How much of each entry fee for the Race for Life goes towards funding actual research into cancer?
100%? 75%? 50%? 25%?
It’s a good question. The Race for Life website doesn’t share this information. In fact finding out is a little like uncovering one of life’s really big secrets.
But why? Surely it can’t be because they would rather people assume that some of their entry fee goes to research rather than let them know it doesn’t?
That’s right, the actual figure from each entry which goes to research into cancer is £0.00.
Yes, you read that right, 0%. Zero.
While the Race for Life’s current website doesn’t disclose this fact anywhere, previously Cancer Research UK did admit to it in the small print.
In 2006, a clause in the small print stated:
“We have to charge an entry fee to cover the organisation of our events and participant communication costs. By charging an entry fee we make sure that every penny of your sponsorship money goes straight to Cancer Research UK*. We do everything in our power to keep costs as low as possible. Here are a few examples of what Cancer Research UK needs to pay for with the entry fee: Barriers and staging; Venue hire; PA system; Toilets; Race numbers; Medals; Marquees; Van Hire; Signage; Postage of entry packs; Data processing; Call centre operators…”
And yet, what this expensive looking list of ‘overheads’ fails to mention is that many venues are provided free of charge by local authorities and other providers (yes, your Council Tax subsidises the event in many areas). It also fails to list the numerous paid positions reliant on the Race for Life for their salaries; and the fact that the event has a number of corporate partners who support it is also conveniently overlooked.
For example, Tesco’s support for the event has recently been valued at £40 million. And still not a single penny of your entry fee supports research into cancer. Are you feeling just a little misled? Just a little like a key piece of information (or two) has been withheld from you?
£40 million! And there are other corporate partners to the event, listed here.
There is more. Re-read that small print clause quoted above. We have marked an asterisk next to another potentially misleading comment. *Note that they do not state that it is so that every penny of your sponsorship goes to fund research into cancer. No, they actually state it is so that, “every penny of your sponsorship money goes straight to Cancer Research UK.”
That is not the same thing as funding research. That is paying for expensive London and regional offices, paying executive salaries (of which the top five combined earn over £1 million p.a.), and subsidising other activities…. How much goes to actual research? We don’t know. An extensive search found no answer and in the absence of any solid facts, of anything unambiguous, how much is anyone’s guess.
But hang on, there is a ‘Where Your Money Goes’ page on the Race for Life website. But, again, it is misleading. It covers only the (unstated) percentage of funds raised which actually go to research into cancer. Not the entry fee. And not that percentage of funds raised which Cancer Research UK don’t seem to disclose. Is it deliberately misleading given none of the entry goes to research, something clearly intimated by omitting any correct information as to where the entry fee actually goes? Only Cancer Research UK can answer that question.
There are local authority employees who carry out lots of local work as part of their job description (your Council Taxes at work again). And let’s not forget the number of unpaid volunteers who support the event every year in good faith, who provide time and service free of charge. Much of the work is done by these volunteers while the entry and a portion of the funds raised off the back of their work contribute to the salaries of others. And some of these volunteers tell some pretty damning stories about the ‘professionals’ involved in the staging of the Race for Life and the resources provided.
And just to be absolutely sure that something about all of the above isn’t hidden somewhere in the event’s rules, we checked them too. As might have been predicted, there is nothing about where the entry fees go (or don’t go) here either.
But then, Cancer Research UK have a history of misleading you. They have been misleading everyone as to who created the Race for Life for nearly a quarter of a century. We can only guess as to what else they mislead the public over.
(For the record, Jim Cowan’s original model for the Race for Life guaranteed a percentage of the entry fee funded research and all funds raised through sponsorship did, along with profits made through merchandising. It is Cancer Research UK who have changed this. Maybe that is what they refer to when they say it wasn’t Jim’s idea?).
Want your money to actually support research into cancer? Click here to see some alternative charities you could support.