Quite reasonably, when most people enter the Race for Life they assume that their entry fee is helping fund research into cancer. After all Cancer Research UK frequently repeat the mantra “this is beating cancer” when promoting the events. But the truth is very different.
When you enter the Race for Life it would be a fair assumption that your entry fee, at least in part, helps fund the fight against cancer. The marketing for the event proudly proclaims, “this is beating cancer,” the event website carries no mention of where the fee does (or does not) go but does carry a link to a ‘where your money goes page’ which claims “you are helping to fund life-saving research.”
This is misleading at best. However, we prefer the word dishonest. Cancer Research UK choose their words carefully, not only the words included but those not. It is lying by omission. Why?
The fact is that, despite what the link suggests, not a single penny of your Race for Life entry fee funds research into cancer. It is entirely absorbed by the sky high costs of staging the event, over and above the corporate sponsorships and local authority support which also support its running. Your entry fee is not beating cancer as they disingenuously claim, it is funding the many jobs, the slick marketing, the wool being pulled over your eyes.
But when you read Cancer Research UK’s claim that over 80% of income funds research, perhaps you forgive them the deception?
Except, when they quote that 80% they are, again, being disingenuous, being economical with the truth. For a quick check on their most recent Annual Report tells us that not only does none of your entry fee fund research, that entry fee is also excluded from the income they use to calculate that 80% figure.
It gets worse. Did you but a T-shirt or other Race for Life merchandise in the hope that “this is beating cancer?” Guess what, income from merchandising isn’t included in the figure either. We can but wonder what else is excluded.
Incredibly, the economically truthful way they massage the figures is not illegal. But, certainly to us, it is disingenuous, deliberately misleading, downright dishonest, lacking in integrity, and wholly unethical. Not descriptions that should apply to any charity, and certainly not to one of the largest income generating vehicles in the sector!
We were curious as to whether this was the way the event has always been, the model under which he established it. His response was an emphatic “no.”
Jim told us that the original model guaranteed a percentage of the entry fee went to research. He added that 100% of the surplus from merchandise was earmarked for funding research. The event was open and transparent about where the money went.
This was before the fraud, the lies, the hypocrisy, and more kicked in and the Race for Life became more ‘income generator’ than fundraiser, creating invisible income ignored in their headline claims.
It is time Cancer Research UK did the right thing and recognised Jim Cowan for his incredible creation AND restored that creation to the honest, open, transparent event it was when he created it.
In the Race 4 Truth, Cancer Research UK are lagging behind.