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Our life-saving work relies on the money our supporters give us. More than 9 out of ten donations we receive are for less than £10, proving that small amounts make a difference. But where does this money actually go?
It’s thanks to your support that we’re making progress in preventing cancer, diagnosing it earlier and making treatments kinder and more effective.
And we believe we have a responsibility to make sure you know how we spend your money.
So read on to find out more about how your donations are helping to beat cancer sooner.
Pence in the pound
One of the questions we’re asked most often is how we spend the donations we receive.
For every £1 donated, 80p is used to beat cancer (the remaining 20p goes towards raising funds for the future).
The majority that we spend each year goes towards our ground-breaking research.
And thanks to research, cancer survival is improving and has doubled over the past 40 years in the UK. Today half of people diagnosed with cancer will survive their disease for ten years or more.
But we need to do more.
Your donations are helping us accelerate progress towards our ambition to see 3 in 4 cancer patients surviving by 2034.
Right now we’re funding research into the fundamental biology of cancer, as well as more than 200 specific types of cancer: from the most common – such as breast, bowel, lung and prostate – to rare types of tumour and children’s cancers.
We’re also spending your donations on our vital policy and information work. We work closely with the government and key decision makers to campaign on issues important to our supporters and scientists, such as tobacco, obesity and early diagnosis. And we empower millions of people by supplying up-to-date, accurate information about cancer to help them understand and cope with the disease – for example through our website, Cancer Awareness Roadshow, Cancer Chat Forum and nurses helpline.
How we spend money on research
Thanks to our generous supporters, we’re funding hundreds of research projects and supporting the work of over 4,000 scientists, doctors and nurses across the UK.
We also fund research programmes such as the Grand Challenge awards – a new £100 million funding scheme, which will give grants to researchers tackling some of the biggest hurdles in cancer research. And our Pioneer Award funds research into truly innovative ideas from any discipline that have the potential to lead to new discoveries. You can read more about our different funding schemes on our website.
Our scientists have helped develop many pioneering cancer treatments – from brain tumour drug temozolomide and breast cancer drug Herceptin in the 1980s, through to the ovarian cancer drug olaparib, which was approved for use by the NHS in December 2015.
Right now your donations are going towards vital programmes that are helping us make more important discoveries and develop new treatments. We’re also funding over 250 clinical trials, which recruit more than 25,000 people each year. Clinical trials test new treatments, prevention and diagnosis techniques in patients, to help advance new treatments and drive progress.
We’re also carrying out research into the causes of cancer. Many believe that cancer is just down to ‘bad luck‘, but we know that our risk actually depends on a combination of our genes, our environment and aspects of our lives. Through research we also know that 4 in 10 cancers can be prevented, largely through lifestyle changes, for example quitting smoking, maintaining and healthy weight, cutting down on alcohol and doing more exercise. We’re researching to build on our understanding and discover more about how the disease develops in the body.
How we decide how much to spend on each type of cancer
Another question we’re often asked is how we decide how much we spend on different types of cancer.
All of our research has one thing in common. We have a responsibility to make sure your money is used to fund the very best science that will make the biggest difference to people with cancer – whether that’s research into preventing and diagnosing the disease, or making treatments more effective.
We spend money on the very best projects that come our way, so we don’t have set amounts to spend on each cancer type.
But we do keep an eye out for projects that will help speed up progress for cancers with very low survival, such as lung, pancreatic, oesophageal and brain tumours. And we run specific fundraising campaigns to raise money towards particular areas of research. For example, the donations raised through the Stand Up To Cancer campaign go towards clinical trials to develop new tests and treatments for cancer patients, and the Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens campaign raises money for research into children’s cancers.
We also rigorously assess every project we fund to make sure each one deserves our support.
To help us make these important decisions, we enlist the advice of independent expert scientists, to get views from those who are working in the field. We also work closely with people affected by cancer who share their experiences and provide invaluable insights.
- Watch our animation on YouTube
Once we’ve decided to fund a project, we don’t always spend all the money straight away. For long-term projects that run over several years, we set aside funds for future work. This means the amount we spend varies from year to year as new research projects start and finish.
How we spend money on research facilities and support
Your donations are also going towards running our specialist institutes, where some of our most important laboratory work takes place. The institutes provide scientists with long-term support, technology and equipment, and play an important role in recruiting and retaining world-class researchers.
In recent years, we have raised funds to contribute towards the construction of a brand new biomedical research centre in London, the Francis Crick Institute. Based in King’s Cross, London, the Crick opened in August and is a unique collaboration between Cancer Research UK, the Medical Research Council, the Wellcome Trust, Imperial College London, King’s College London and University College London. The institute will be home to 1,600 scientists from a variety of disciplines, who will work together to turn research into benefits for patients faster.
How we spend money on our policy and information work
Every day our Policy team is fighting to make sure cancer stays at the top of the political agenda. Your donations are supporting our vital work to campaign on issues important to our supporters and scientists – from cancer prevention to early diagnosis and treatment.
Examples of our recent successes include working with the UK Government and NHS organisations to implement a new NHS cancer strategy for England; calling on the tobacco industry to pay for Stop Smoking Services; lobbying the Government to put more money into cancer tests and pressing the Government to do more to tackle children’s obesity.
Not only do we want to improve cancer survival, we also want to make sure people have the information, help and support they need when they’ve been diagnosed with cancer or are undergoing treatment. That’s why we spend money on providing high-quality information and support to people affected by cancer.
Examples of what we do in this area include our patient information website, which more than 20 million people visited last year. Our Cancer Awareness Roadshow travels to cities across the UK, and our brilliant specialist nurses on board talk to people about cancer signs and symptoms and healthy living. We also have a team of dedicated information nurses who answered almost 11,000 queries about cancer last year, over the telephone or via our online chat service.
How we spend money on fundraising
The remaining 20p of every £1 goes towards fundraising for the future. This is essential – we’ll only be able continue our life-saving work by raising funds for the future.
We’re always finding new, innovative ways to encourage donations. For example, we’ve recently invested funds into developing our online donation system so that if they would like to, supporters can more easily make a donation towards all of our research into a specific type of cancer or area of research.
We also need to spend money on marketing to help keep donations coming in. A recent example is our ‘Right Now‘ brand campaign. The content we produced for the campaign shows the day-to-day reality of cancer. It features the stories of real patients, their loved ones and their experience of cancer, and shows the work of Cancer Research UK scientists and medical staff who are researching the disease to find new cures. The campaign is important because it highlights the need for constant support to continue our pioneering work and to help us beat cancer sooner.
How we spend money on people
We need to attract and retain the very best people if we are to continue to deliver world-leading research and meet our ambition of seeing 3 in 4 cancer patients survive their disease by 2034.
You’re also helping to fund our invaluable staff, each and every one of whom contributes to our progress in beating cancer sooner.
How we spend money on running our shops and events
We spend money on running our high-street shops and putting on events such as Race for Life, Tough10, Shine and Dryathlon.
The amount of money that we spend on running our shops and events (‘trading’) is excluded from our calculation of the 80p figure.
When our supporters and customers pay a registration fee to take part in an event or buy a product from one of our shops, it is a completely different activity to giving a voluntary donation.
This means that by excluding our trading costs from our calculation of the 80p figure, our supporters can see the true impact of every £1 donated.
If you’d like to find out more about our finances, you can read more information here, and download our Annual Report and Accounts or Annual Review.
We hope this blog post has given you a better understanding of how your money is spent. None of our life-saving work would be possible without our dedicated volunteers and generous supporters. Every year you help us to raise hundreds of millions of pounds towards the fight against cancer, which is an amazing achievement. And every day we’re making progress. We want to say a huge ‘thank you’ for your support in making this progress happen.
Ali Glossop October 5, 2016
Dear Carl Leake,
Thank you for your comment. We closed the defined benefit pension scheme to future accrual on 31 March 2015, which means that staff who were members of that scheme have transferred over to the defined contribution scheme, hence the payments to defined contribution schemes has gone up from £690k to £933k.
As the pension plan is defined contribution, the individual does not accrue an entitlement to a particular pension at retirement. Instead, the employee accrues a pension pot, which is based on contributions paid and investment returns. So, the average pension pot accrued for that group over the year would be the average contribution paid over the year, plus investment returns which will vary from employee to employee depending on their personal investment choices.
Cancer Research UK’s defined contribution plan is open to all employees.
Ali Glossop, Cancer Research UK
Bertram L. Hemsley October 2, 2016
Dear cancer research team,
Thank you for your news letter explaining how our donations are helping your quest to fight cancer. I m pleased to be able help.
Adam September 28, 2016
Why is the CEO on a salary of roughly £240,000? A cure for cancer will never be found it has too much money involved. Who doesn’t profit from the sick, Harpal Kumar? Personally I think he should be ashamed of himself living off the ill people and from the generosity of
people who donate their hard earned cash.
David Parry September 26, 2016
There is obviously a lot of research going on to find treatments and hopefully one day cures for cancer. Even though it is advertised on the television I would say that most of the general public are unaware of the intensity of the research. But I think that it is important to keep on making the public aware of lifestyle changes that can help to prevent the disease. Thank you to all the researchers involved in cancer its good to know that our donations are helping.
Sue Whetnall September 25, 2016
Very informative + interesting thank you
Sarah Collins September 25, 2016
I’m proud to support your charity. Thank you for everything you do. It’s life changing.
Terence and Evelyn Barton. September 24, 2016
My wife and I know how hard you work but being pensioners aged eighty 3 and eighty
4 we only help by supporting with Charites..Please keep up the good work.
Linda Sales September 24, 2016
A huge thank you for the amazing work you do it kept my husband going for 14 years with various forms of cancer
Gez September 23, 2016
I think what you, we, and I all do is pretty amazing………….we must all keep up the good work and soldier on in the battle against cancer.
Carl Leake September 23, 2016
Can you explain why the average accrued pension benefits for those earning over £60,001 rose by over 30% compared to those of 2014, (from a mean of £7500 in 2014 to £9925 in 2015), and what is the anticipated average accrued pension benefits for these staff members for 2016? For information the 2015 accounts presented this on page 46 as follows: “In respect of employees in the £60,001 and above bandings, 94 accrued benefits under defined benefit pension schemes (2014: 92) and payments to defined contributions schemes totalled £933,000 (2014: £690,000).” Are these benefits paid to staff below this salary level? If not why not?
Ali Glossop September 23, 2016
Dear Mrs Pisani,
Thank you for your comment. We receive no Government funding for our life-saving research so every step we make towards beating cancer relies on every pound donated. For every £1 donated, 80p is available to beat cancer. Every single pound really does count as nine out of ten donations we receive are for £10 or less.
And yes, you are right – TV advertising is part of the 20% of every £1 that we spend on fundraising.
Ali Glossop, Cancer Research UK
Louise Flynn September 23, 2016
I am aware of all the research your company does and hope it keeps finding new ways to treat various cancers, I myself have been through cancer twice and have been grateful for the treatment I received. Wish you all the best for future research.
Trevor Pook September 22, 2016
I think there should be research into alternative/natural remedies, assuming that unprofitable solutions that can’t be patented are still considered?
Mrs Sandra Pisani September 22, 2016
Thank you for this important information. Whilst doing one of the sweepstakes at my local gym.i was asked, who pays for the expensive TV ads? Is it from the 20%? Or donated by TV. Thank you.
Claire September 22, 2016
Thank you for the blog post .. it has made me smile that you have took the time to explain to us where all this money goes and what it helps you to do now and in the future.. I will continue to donate when I can.. this detailed post has given me more insight into how significant our help is.. although it is a shame that the government doesn’t fund even a small amount of this yet we are all affected by cancer in some way .. thanks again #beatcancersooner
Bill September 22, 2016
Thanks for the information- keep up the good work
Trish September 22, 2016
Thank you for all that you are doing. It’s nice to know where my donations are being spent. Keep fighting this horrible disease.
Christina Chetwynd September 22, 2016
Thank you for the infortmation. it is very informative indeed. people do appreciate it when they know where their donation is going and how it is helping. it encourages them to donate more. So thank you very much for this information. I would just like to mention one thing about Turmeric. it is indeed a wonder herb for many many illnesses and diseases. How ever it is impotant for people to know that they must always consult their treatment provider before taking turmeric, as there are Cautions. The most important one being, if they are on Anticoagulants such as Warfarine or Xeralto(Riverexoban), as there is tendency to bleed with Turmeric interfering with anti coagulation drugs. Also for Diabetics a Turmeric does interfere with blood sugar. having had 2 members of my family who suffered from Cancer, happy to say that both survived the cancer and that is most definitely because of Cancer Research UK doing such a wonderful job with the money raised fron Donations. So well done Cancer Research, keep up the good work, and thank you.
Lynn September 22, 2016
I have always believed that most of my donation went into research. Great.
S September 22, 2016
I just hope that after all the supporters have donated, if one day you find a cure, it’s not snatched by the drug companies, then over-priced so high that noone can afford it.
After all…. the drug company revenue for current drugs will need to be replaced, it’s a lucrative industry, which is part of the reason a cure is taking so long.
Fiona Conway-Jones September 22, 2016
Thank you for your comment. Chemotherapy is a tried and tested treatment, and there’s solid evidence that it helps to cure and extend the lives of many people. Interestingly, many chemotherapy drugs were discovered from chemicals purified from plants – such as paclitaxel (from needles from pacific yew trees) and vismodegib (from corn lily).
Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a treatment for non-melanoma skin cancer and is being tested as an experimental treatment for other types of cancer. But it shouldn’t be confused with sonodynamic therapy (SDT) which is unlicensed and isn’t supported by any scientific evidence. More information can be found here.
You also mentioned turmeric and shiitake mushrooms – researchers have found chemicals extracted from them have had some effect on cancer cells growing in the lab, (more information can be found here and here but we’re a long way from knowing if they’d be safe or effective in people with cancer. You might be interested to know that we’re funding research to find out whether curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, helps reduce the risk of developing bowel cancer, or stop the disease coming back after treatment.
Fiona Conway-Jones, Cancer Research UK
Denise Thomas September 22, 2016
Sorry could complete registration as site did not like my name or address which I can’t change not doing event because of it
Ruth Jackson September 22, 2016
Without people like you and your researchers and scientists, we would be in a dreadful state with cancer. A huge thank you from me for the work that you do and i know will continue to to do. If i can donate more, I will
peter killick September 22, 2016
You are doing so well and i feel happy to help you although not as much as i would like but as i keep telling other’s if everyone gave a little it would make so much difference.
Diane Henley September 22, 2016
Really informative and it’s great to know where my money goes. So pleased that so many intiatives are in place to tackle cancer.