should charity fundraising consider sufferers as well as supporters?

This is Campaign’s Ad Of The Day today (Thursday):


By AIS London for Harrison’s Fund (the Dad in question is a friend of the agency according to The Drum), it might well help fundraise for a less well-known and very serious illness, but I don’t imagine it will make the parents whose children are currently suffering from cancer (or have even been killed by it) feel terribly good.

The (however unintentional) insensitivity of it reminded me of this campaign from last year, which coming from a family riddled with breast cancer made me wince:


It was a ‘statement pose’ by ex Spice Girl Mel B and some other female celebs in a 2012 Cosmo feature supporting breast cancer charity CoppaFeel (yes, really…), but a near identical ad ran over ten years ago as a pro bono project by an agency I later worked at – and no-one there ever discussed it as anything other than a good ad that raised some good publicity.

Making breast cancer related fundraising efforts sexy, pink or fun can feel downright insulting to many sufferers, with unhappiness around the corporate ‘pinkification’ of breast cancer fundraising continuing to be raised by sufferers and survivors both here and across the pond.

Cancer isn’t pink, or sparkly, or pretty, or sexy, or about perfect breasts and many sufferers seem to be getting a bit sick of also being told that it’s a Fight.  Someone I know who is in recovery from cancer recently tweeted something along the lines of ‘I keep seeing stuff telling me to Stand Up To Cancer. I’m bloody trying!

The big question when fundraising for medical charities must be how far do you go?  How do you balance the need for funds with the emotional needs of the people suffering from the disease you are fundraising for (or denigrating as in the ad at the top)?  I’ve sat in meetings with senior charity fundraisers and been amazed to hear them talk about switching fundraising spend from other charities as if they were Anchor chasing market share from Flora.

I suppose the real question is who are medically-related charities run for the benefit of?  Those currently suffering, future sufferers who might benefit from investment in medical research, or the CV of the fundraisers themselves or their agency’s showreels?  Sometimes I wonder whether one of the latter two come out on top more often than not.

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