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5 key takeaways from our review of the financial year

The Cancer Research UK logo
by Cancer Research UK | Philanthropy and partnerships

10 October 2019

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Front cover image for Cancer Research UK's Annual Reports and Accounts. Image shows a man and a woman embracing.
From income to insight, we pick out some of the important themes from this year’s Annual Report & Accounts
Science leaders, volunteers, philanthropists and people affected by cancer collectively grace the pages of our Annual Report & Accounts 2018/19. To dip into inspiring stories, fascinating science and enlightening facts and figures, click here. Or, if you’re tight for time, read on for five digestible takeaways from another fantastic year of progress against cancer.
  1. We raised more money than ever before

Our fundraising income rose by 2% to £540m, in part thanks to people leaving gifts in their wills, and our flagship fundraising campaigns, Race for Life and Stand Up To Cancer. Combining this with other income, such as royalties for drugs and innovations we helped to develop, brings the total to £672m – the largest amount we’ve ever received*.

  1. Spending on cancer research rose too

With income on the rise, it’s perhaps no surprise that we also increased our research spend. But far from this figure being commensurate with the 2% increase seen in fundraised income, we were able to allocate a whopping 12% extra funding to our research budget. And on top of this, due to a change in the way we award multi-award research grants, we committed to an additional £74m of research spend in the year. Unlike any other organisation, we’ll make this income available to fund research on any of the 200+ types of cancer.

  1. Investing in our fundraising activity brings in substantial returns

At £99m, our fundraising spend forms a hefty wedge of expenditure. But this year, that activity brought in £431m, equivalent to a very satisfying ROI of 435%. In other words, for every pound we spent, we made around £4. And for every pound we received, we made 82p available to beat cancer.

  1. Patient involvement is at the heart of our work

Our Involvement Network of people personally affected by cancer swelled to 1,130 this year, with more than 200 new members. Our Cancer Insights Panel grew too, and we trialled new methods to recruit people with more diverse experiences, and socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds. By selflessly joining this insight-sharing forum, members help ensure our focus is fixed firmly on patient benefit for this generation and those to come.

  1. Philanthropy is gaining importance

On page 37, we meet former investment banker Jill May, whose husband Mick has incurable cancer. She’s mobilising her network to unlock philanthropic potential among her City peers and has so far raised a huge £1.25m. With a shifting fundraising landscape and an increase in wealthy individuals looking to give something back, philanthropy is now an important part of our strategy to beat cancer.


*Figure excludes exceptional gains. In 2016/17, total income was £679m but only because of two exceptional gains on the disposal of properties.

– Joanna Lewin, Philanthropy & Partnerships Communications Manager and Editor at Cancer Research UK