Cancer touches most people at some point during their lives. As the world’s leading cancer charity, Cancer Research UK is dedicated to finding a cure for the disease in any of its 200 forms. Relying solely on public donations, the charity’s groundbreaking research has contributed significantly to the doubling of survival rates over the past 40 years.

Fundraising and research work in tandem, with one providing the means to budget for the other. “We take a five-year-plus view on funding for our institutes and research centres,” says Iain Foulkes, Executive Director of Strategy and Research Funding. “Having confidence in what we will receive allows us to implement our research priorities in bold and ambitious ways.”


Working on solutions

The charity needs to maintain core research funding alongside more agile, game-changing programmes. “Scientists in our institutes work for five to 10 years, providing a solid foundation to their work,” says Foulkes. “In our response model, new projects are peer reviewed on the quality of the science and how they fit our current strategy.”

Cancer Research UK has taken its response model to a higher level with its £20 million Grand Challenge. “We had become a little traditional in our approach to funding,” says Foulkes. “We wanted to take on the big questions that, if we were successful in answering them, would really move research forward.”

The richness of the award gives a platform to radical thinking that, if fruitful, could enter mainstream diagnosis or treatment. Crucially, it allows a multidisciplinary approach, with physicists working alongside biologists in international teams, accelerating the scope and progress of the research.



Alex (pictured) is a committed CRUK volunteer after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009. “People like Alex know that fundraising, like research, is constantly evolving to accommodate the way individuals choose to donate and engage,” says Ed Aspel, Executive Director of Fundraising and Marketing. “Our 40,000 volunteers support us in a variety of ways based on four pillars: give, do, buy and pledge. Our role is to support how and where our supporters want to contribute.” That could mean working in a charity shop, signing a petition to government, raising sponsorship or leaving a legacy.

New events such as the televised celebrity fundraiser Stand Up To Cancer have raised the charity’s profile. “There is also the Cancer Research UK eBay Shop,” says Aspel, “which allows our supporters to shop on their terms, 24-hours a day.” In addition, a new smartphone app provides an instant connection to supporters who are looking for information, explaining, for example, how certain cancer treatments work.

Cancer Research UK began life in 1902 as The Imperial Cancer Research Fund, which pioneered research into radiotherapy as early as 1904. Always at the forefront of innovation, in 2001 the charity’s Sir Paul Nurse and Sir Tim Hunt received the Nobel Prize for Medicine for their discovery of how cells divide.

“It is so inspiring to work in fundraising for an organisation that has such a galvanising mission,” says Aspel. “Cancer touches millions every year. At Cancer Research UK we strive to provide as many engaging ways as possible for people to take a positive action to help beat cancer sooner.” CRUK’s world-class research and flexible fundraising strategies are targeting cancer diagnosis and treatment in ever more successful and inspiring ways.