Macmillan launches emergency fundraising appeal as it faces ‘unprecedented’ demand

24 Apr 2020 News

Macmillan Cancer Support faces a 50% drop in its income and has today launched an emergency fundraising appeal

The charity said it has also seen a sharp rise in demand for support in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. It has set aside a £5m fund to cover the cost of new services and support. 

Macmillan’s annual income is £235m, most of its income come from the public and it relies heavily on event fundraising. 

It did not say if it has a target in mind for the emergency appeal, but a spokesperson said: “The emergency appeal has already been kicked off with an incredibly generous donation of £250,000 by the Julia and Hans Rausing Trust.” 

It has enlisted celebrity supporters to raise awareness of the appeal. Fearne Cotton, Johnny Vegas, and Naomie Harris have taken part in a video which is being shared on social media from today. 

Lynda Thomas, chief executive at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “At a time when our support has become more important than ever, our income faces a staggering drop, and the truth is we can’t continue to be there for all the people who need us without the support of the public. 

“We’re doing everything we can to help people living with cancer, including the new services announced today to help address the immediate and unique challenges that having cancer during this pandemic brings. But we simply can’t make sure that no one faces cancer alone, without the public’s support.”
 
Macmillan’s latest accounts, for the year ending December 2018, show that it holds £180m in cash and investments that could be “liquidated at relatively short notice”. This is higher than its £100m target and it said it planned to reduce it over two years. 

Macmillan changed its reserves policy in 2018 to “focus on holding an appropriate level of liquidity cover rather than targeted levels of reserves”. 

Surge in demand 

Macmillan said it has seen a huge increase in demand over recent weeks. 

Calls to the Macmillan Support Line about Covid-19 rose by 1,600% during March. The number of calls that specifically mention the coronavirus currently stands at around 750 a week. 
 
Towards the end of March, around one in three (33%) calls to the Macmillan Support Line were about the coronavirus. Currently around one in four calls (26%) relate to the virus.

Coronavirus content on the Macmillan website and online community has had more than 160,000 views since the beginning of March.
 
In March 2020, the number of people with cancer in financial hardship who Macmillan supported with a cash grant increased by 14% compared with the overall monthly average for 2019. Macmillan gave out grants to almost 3,500 people with cancer, worth a total of £1.1m.

£5m Covid-19 response fund 

Macmillan has set aside £5m for new projects launched as part of its response to coronavirus. 

This will pay for things like; additional roles like support workers to help with increased workloads, or IT equipment to enable cancer patients to speak virtually to their loved ones. 

Macmillan is also rolling out a series of new virtual services to make sure that three million people living with cancer in the UK can access support they need.

This includes:

  • Cancer and coronavirus digital hub – New section on the Macmillan website with guidance and advice for people affected by cancer and healthcare professionals. 
  • Telephone Buddies - A new volunteer telephone befriending service is being rolled out across the UK to provide an emotional lifeline to cancer patients in isolation. 
  • Virtual "prehabilitation" services to help people with cancer cope with the emotional and physical effects of cancer, including video calls and virtual workshops for patients to support their wellbeing while they isolate at home. 

Exploring whether to furlough any staff 

Macmillan has not yet placed any staff on furlough, but said it is considering whether to make use of the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. 

A spokesperson said: “The impact of coronavirus has meant that some members of staff are unable to carry out their jobs to the fullest and have experienced a decrease in their workloads. We are in the process of reviewing which roles it would be appropriate to furlough and Macmillan will top up a government grant to ensure these members of staff continue to receive full pay.”

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