As we sign off our annual Trustee Report and Accounts at the end of the financial year, we have a lot to celebrate.
We’ve made our biggest investment in research ever, an amazing £33.2 million. But that’s not all – this huge figure includes our biggest ever investment in clinical trials of £9.5 million, including the renewal of our innovative Trials Acceleration Programme and our first ever ‘first-in-human’ trial.
Altogether this means that we have a seamless pipeline of research, from understanding the biology of blood cancers in the lab through to the development of new treatments, all focused on saving and improving the lives of patients and preventing blood cancers from happening in the first place.
We’ve also expanded our patient services and completed a two year programme of research into the needs of patients, an investment together of £1.5 million. Our Patient Need research has informed our strategy for the coming year when we’ll launch our first (and the UK’s biggest ever) blood cancer awareness campaign, and introduce a new support service: Blood Cancer Connect. This service will build a collaborative community of patients, carers and health care professionals sharing information, local support and the latest news – a safe space to signpost patients to the information and services they need at every stage of their illness.
Of every £1 that we spent in this financial year, nearly 80p went to help blood cancer patients, compared with 77p in the previous year.
However, there are also challenges. Following an exceptional year for generating income in 2014, when we increased voluntary income by 19%, our income in 2015 year was 5% below the previous year. We continued to demonstrate great strength in our regional and sport income, but corporate, trust and major donor income were disappointing.
As you can see, the vast majority of our income comes from voluntary sources. In a challenging fundraising environment we’re ever more appreciative of our supporters, which enables us to make such encouraging progress for patients.
You might reasonably wonder why, if we raised £20.6 million, we were able to spend £33.2 million on patients. The approach to charity reserves has changed in recent years. Rather than keeping money back to cover every liability, charities are expected to take a realistic view of future income and expenditure, and invest as much as they prudently can in support of their charitable purpose.
Our Trustees have developed a strategy to do this, maintaining the necessary level of reserves to make sure we always have enough money in the bank for a ‘rainy day’, while releasing as much money as possible to invest in research and maximise patient benefit.
Holding large investment and cash balances can give the impression that there isn’t an urgent need for fundraising, when in fact this isn’t the case at all.
In doing this we've consulted with other charities with similar policies, like the British Heart Foundation, as well as our auditors and investment managers.
You can find a full explanation of our reserves policy on page 38 of the Trustee Report.
We have ambitious plans to do even more for patients this year.
Thank you very much for your support. You’re helping to change the world for blood cancer patients and we very much appreciate the many ways that you make this happen.