Cancer Research UK’s income fell by £74m 

22 Jul 2021 News

Cancer Research UK Race for Life At Home participant

Cancer Research UK (CRUK)’s income fell by £74m to £582m during the pandemic, but this is less than it was expecting and its chief executive says she is now “cautiously optimistic”.  

The charity published its annual report and accounts for the financial year ending 31 March 2021 yesterday, which set out the impact of the pandemic and the measures the charity took to reduce its costs and open up new funding streams. 

CRUK has reforecast its anticipated financial loss over three years from £300m to £250m. It also made fewer redundancies than it had first expected.

Michelle Mitchell, chief executive of CRUK, said: “We were forced to take difficult emergency measures at the start of the pandemic to ensure our financial stability and buy us the time to put a plan in place for how we would recover from the pandemic. This agility, unity and the collective strength displayed by our wonderful staff, supporters and volunteers throughout this time, has been admirable. 

“I remain cautiously optimistic for the future. The past year proves the value of investing in the long term in the highest quality discovery science and medical research, and what can be achieved through collaboration.”


The main reason for the drop in income was the closure of its charity shops and cancellation of fundraising events. 

Retail income for 2020-21 was £39.7m, down from £90.5m the previous year. Event income was £22.6m in 2020-21, significantly less than the £156m in 2019-20.

However, legacy income rose by 16% compared to the previous year. In 2020-21 it reached £213m, and “outperformed our expectations in the year”, the report says. 

This was partly because the charity was able to process more legacy notifications than it expected because HM Courts & Tribunal Services had worked through a known backlog.

Income from donations was relatively stable at £186m (2020: £190m). 

Virtual fundraising 

Two urgent appeals raised a combined total of £8m, while people carrying out fundraising activities at home and in their community raised another £8m.

More than 100,000 supporters took part in one of CRUK’s new virtual fundraising challenges, such as Walk All Over Cancer, Cycle 300 and Marathon Month, raising over £20m.

Some 87,000 people created fundraising pages using Facebook charitable giving tools, raising almost £10m, nearly half of which was connected to the virtual challenge events.

Meanwhile, CRUK says that virtual mass participation events, such as its Race for Life at Home, raised £15m. 

“This is a reduction of 70% on the £48m in the previous year, and £25m less than last year’s Race for Life, it was an outstanding result given the circumstances,” the accounts say. 

Government coronavirus support 

During 2020-21 CRUK received £14.2m via the government’s job retention scheme. It also received £900,000 in discretionary grants from local authorities and £700,000 in retail, leisure and hospitality grants. 

As part of the charity’s cost-reduction plan it furloughed nearly 70% of its staff for part of the year. 

It also moved all staff to working 80% of their time for part of the year. 

The executive board team saw a 20% reduction in salaries for five months from April to August 2020 inclusive. This was applied to all staff for four months from May to August 2020 inclusive.

Fewer redundancies than projected

Last year CRUK said it anticipated making between 295 and 345 people redundant to help it save money, however this year’s accounts report that fewer than 200 redundancies were made. 

The annual report says this was partly down to “vacancy management”. 

Total headcount fell from 4,607 to 4,386. The accounts show that £1.3m was spent on termination payments. 

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