Five fundraising questions for Cancer Council Victoria

Since its inception in 1936, the Cancer Council Victoria has been supporting cancer research and running public awareness programs. With half its funds coming from fundraising, we chat to Andrew Buchanan, Head of Fundraising, about their most effective strategies.


The Cancer Council has had many fundraising strategies over the years. Which ones stand out as the most successful?

Cancer Council Victoria relies on the generosity of donors to continue our work in cancer research, prevention, support and advocacy. More than half of our income is derived from fundraising.

One of our largest fundraising campaigns is Relay For Life. This began in the USA in 1985 when a surgeon, Dr Gordy Klatt, wanted to raise awareness of cancer and boost the income of his local cancer charity. He spent a gruelling 24 hours circulating a track in Tacoma, Washington, and raised over US$27,000. It showed that one person really can make a difference. Last year $4.4 million was raised through 62 Relay For Life events in Victoria alone!

Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea, is also a big one. Last year 9,000 Biggest Morning Tea hosts raised more than $3 million.

Over all, last year our supporters raised $37.3 million in a variety of ways, such as regular giving, taking part in events or purchasing merchandise through the much-loved Daffodil Day.

Girls’ Night In seems to be gaining a lot of traction. How have you marketed this ongoing fundraiser and what sort of numbers are you getting?

Girls’ Night In turns 13 in Victoria this year, encouraging women to register as a host, hold a Girls’ Night In event with their female friends and donate to the Cancer Council what they would’ve spent on a night out.

The campaign runs throughout the month of October and raises funds for research, prevention and support programs for breast and gynaecological cancers.

In 2017, Cancer Council Victoria aims to raise $1.2 million by recruiting 1,100 Girls’ Night In hosts – and we’re thrilled to be well on the way to reaching our target!

Our strategy to recruit these hosts included a mix of direct mail, promotion activities and PR outreach, social media and some advertising on radio and TV.

Your donation webpage with its ‘single’ and ‘regular’ donation buttons is wonderfully simple and easy to use. Has the website had a recent revamp to make it look this good and does it help draw donations?

Yes! Our aim is to make it as seamless and easy as possible for generous Victorians to support us and our work in the fight against cancer.

Our donation pages went through a refresh late last year, which streamlined the donation process and simplified the pages. We also illustrated the value of each donation with our new dollar handles. Finally, we ensured that the pages were optimised for mobile browsers.

After updating our donation pages we saw a huge increase in online donations which reinforced how important it is for us to have user-friendly donation pages. We have been able to run digital regular giving campaigns that are currently in market.

The Cancer Council Victoria website will be having a further refresh later this year to streamline and simplify its look and feel.

Has having SecurePay as your payment gateway been a positive partnership and do you think it’s helped the simplicity and security of the donating process?

We have enjoyed the flexibility and customisation that SecurePay offers, which has allowed us to have appropriate branding and a consistent user experience for our donors. It’s great that our supporters can feel confident when they donate, which is important to us.

What does the Cancer Council Victoria do with its precious donated dollars?

In 2016, Cancer Council Victoria spent $23.7 million on cancer research. We fund researchers working in hospitals, universities and medical institutions across Victoria. We also fund our own researchers here at Cancer Council Victoria, including behavioural scientists and epidemiologists who work at finding more about the causes of cancer and its prevention.

We spent $16.3 million on cancer prevention programs in 2016. We have a number of programs, such as Quit Victoria, SunSmart, LiveLighter, Rethink Sugary Drink and screening programs which educate the community about how they can cut their cancer risk by eating a healthy diet, being physically active, limiting alcohol, not smoking, being a healthy weight, and getting checked for cancers such as bowel and melanoma.

Last year, we also spent $4.9 million on providing reliable information and support to people living with cancer and those around them. Our cancer support services include Cancer Council 13 11 20, which had about 11,000 people affected by cancer contact a qualified cancer nurse to get information on cancer types, treatments or to be referred to other support services last year.

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