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R&D in charity communications

30 Nov 2022

As household names with passionate public supporters and a visible public presence, medical research charities occupy a unique position in the R&D system. We brought together a group to understand how they engage the public with R&D through their fundraising campaigns and donor communications.


  • Alzheimer’s Research UK
  • Association of Medical
  • Research Charities
  • Blood Cancer UK
  • British Heart Foundation
  • Cancer Research UK
  • Eve Appeal
  • Stroke Association

Key Conclusions

  • Medical research charities should be at the forefront of the R&D sector’s public image, with their high
    street profile and experience blending emotive and pragmatic messages.
    However, the contribution
    medical research charities make to R&D is too often overlooked, and more work is needed to
    strengthen that connection in the public eye.
  • R&D advocates should go further to champion the voices and experiences of patients and
    Visibly linking the beneficiaries of research to those conducting it can help humanise
    the R&D process, especially as researchers are generally well-trusted by the public.
  • Audience segmentation could help tailor public-facing messages and ‘asks’. Framing messages
    as participatory movements was seen as one way to engage younger people. Other public
    audiences will respond better to messages about the progress made to date rather than how far
    there is to go.
  • Medical research charities should do more to highlight their collaborative work. Despite frequent
    cooperation, these partnerships between charities are not necessarily seen by the public. Making
    more of collaboration between funders can reinforce the value for money that charities extract from
    everyone’s donations.

R&D in charity communications

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