Women scientists in a lab looking at a Petri dish

The Cancer Research UK Challenge Fund, which we launched in the initial throes of the pandemic, will help to ensure we can continue funding vital research.

We launched The Cancer Research UK Challenge Fund in June 2020 to inspire our philanthropic community to support us as we entered one of the most challenging periods in our history. The peer-to-peer initiative was funded by four supporters, who together donated over £2 million. This was used to match donations from other supporters of £100,000 or more. Inspired by this opportunity to double the value and impact of their donation, 18 supporters responded, with some stretching their charitable commitments. They collectively donated an additional £2 million, resulting in a combined donated total of over £4 million to help ensure that we can continue to fund innovative cancer research.

When we launched the fund, we were still in the early stages of the pandemic. We feared a significant reduction in our ability to fund world-class research as our initial income forecasts projected a worrying financial picture. And so, we set about developing a plan for how to respond to a significant drop in annual income and yet remain at the forefront of the global fight against cancer. This involved making cuts to our research budget – which we knew would inevitably result in fewer discoveries, new treatments and clinical trials – while our income recovered. But it also presented us with an opportunity to reach out to some of our closest supporters at this critical time, and they responded immediately and enthusiastically.

Knowing that our money would be matched by other supporters meant we could double the impact of our gift

While our income losses remain significant, our determination to beat cancer has never faltered. The £4 million these supporters collectively contributed, as well as donations from our broader community of supporters, means we can continue funding life-saving research projects led by some of the most talented scientists from around the world, who have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to reduce the devastating global impact of cancer.

Two supporters who gave through the fund are Nick and Annette Razey. “We’ve had people we love experience and die from various types of cancer,” they told us. “And as Cancer Research UK supports research into all types of cancer, we know our donation will be used where the need is greatest. Knowing that our money would be matched by other supporters meant we could double the impact of our gift.”

Our chief executive, Michelle Mitchell, offered: “I’d like to say a huge thank you to our Challenge Fund supporters for stepping up at such a critical time and responding so generously. The investments we’ve made in research and policy over the decades have brought us so far. And it is only with the continued backing of all our supporters, that we’ll realise a world in which a cancer diagnosis is no longer feared, treatments are precise and targeted, cancer is detected earlier or prevented entirely, and cancer survival is a given. Cancer Research UK is the largest charitable funder of cancer research in the world and we will stay at the forefront of the global fight against cancer.”

– Joanna Lewin, Philanthropy Communications Specialist at Cancer Research UK

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