June 21st, 2011 by Tim Greenhalgh
Cancer Research Race for Life has raised the bar in fundraising tactics this year by going social.
We all want to know how a charity we support covers costs and then delivers cash that can be used to make a difference. Cancer Research has invested supportersâ€™ cash in a social media marketing campaign that would have raised concerns, simply because it is a brave action.
There are clues on the social media success and, I hope, some further detail about the results of the ground-breaking campaign after Russell Marsh, Group Strategy Director at Rapp, presented an â€œoutstanding case studyâ€ at the Institute of Direct Marketing this evening (Tuesday, June 21st). http://www.theidm.com/marketing-events/networking-evening-race-for-life-harnessing-social-media-to-optimise-engagement/
I would have loved to attend but client work prevented this so I do hope that the Rapp presentation will be available online so that Race for Life organisers can give us a very clear idea of how being social has worked for Cancer Research.
Race for Life defines the spirit of our times in so many ways. I lost my mum to the disease last summer and so have joined the millions who know the pain and anguish that cancer causes both sufferers and those around them.
I hope that the social tactics around Race for Life have delivered new funds and supporters to the campaign, given it an online home, and help us to make some sense of the canker corrosion in our lives. The case study will tell us.
The Rapp campaign was a trial of how a charity could harness social media to help it engage, promote and raise cash. It earned the agency a Data Strategy Award and was shortlisted for the Marketing Week Engage Awards. Rapp says that it â€œtook the charity’s marketing from a one-size-fits-all strategy to a one-to-one communication programme that brought new levels of engagement, participation and ultimately, essential donations.â€
Weâ€™ve been worked with charities In the past, most recently with Medecins San Frontieres, and know how naturally conservative the sector is in its approach to marketing and PR.
So the move by Cancer Research to embrace social media marketing is both astonishing and very welcome.
While we wait for more detail, itâ€™s a very positive development that we hope will encourage every charity in the UK to learn about and then use social media to raise funds, bind supporters closer and speed the process of winning new advocates.
Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life has grown from a single 680-participant event in Battersea in 1994 into the largest women-only fundraising event in the UK with 680,000 entrants and 272 events country-wide. It has raised more than Â£362 million.
Hats off to Rapp and Cancer Research for stepping outside the safe boundaries of direct marketing â€“ a brave move, maybe even a game-changer in the charity sector.