Asso­ci­a­tion of Inter­na­tion­al Can­cer Research: Inspir­ing Sto­ries Book

Exhibited by
Reuben Turner, The Good Agency.
May 12, 2011
Medium of Communication
Direct mail
Target Audience
Type of Charity
Country of Origin
Date of first appearance

SOFII’s view

The AICR’s ‘your cancer story’ campaign, developed with The Good Agency, clearly demonstrates innovation and success in legacy fundraising. By creating real, personal, one-to-one conversations, AICR not only inspired their supporters, they also made them feel as though they really cared. Unsurprisingly, response to this appeal was phenomenal and AICR have subsequently received a number of pledges and requests for further information. This campaign really does demonstrate the importance of friend-raising before fundraising.

To increase legacy income for the Association of International Cancer Research (AICR).


For a cancer charity AICR had an unusually small legacy income and this was something they wanted to change. One of the main issues they faced was that many of the people on their direct marketing donor file had been recruited through incentives such as raffles and prize draws. Many donors were, therefore, uninterested in the AICR cause and brand.

The Good Agency built a propensity model to try and identify the best legacy prospects on the AICR database. This was based on length of giving, appeals given to and other factors.

Rather than go straight in with a legacy ask, AICR and The Good Agency decided to begin by asking donors about their experiences with cancer. Initially they were sent a mailing asking them to share their cancer stories. The cover letter was written by a member of AICR’s staff, where she talked about her own experiences of cancer and encouraged the reader to do the same.

It was a real, personal, one-to-one communication and the response from donors was phenomenal. AICR received hundreds of moving, heart-breaking and touching stories.

This initial mailing started a conversation with the donors about something much deeper than a straight legacy ask would have. Consequently, it was a natural extension for AICR to follow up with feedback on the initial letter.

They did this by producing a book featuring some of the most inspiring, funny and moving stories about people’s experiences with cancer (available here: and by talking about legacies in the covering letter and asking about pledges.

Influence / Impact

This campaign has had a large impact on AICR’s previously low legacy income. The Good Agency and AICR employed a new and innovative approach to legacy giving using conversations, not pledges, and by persuading donors, not just asking their intentions. By opening these honest and sincere lines of communication, many supporters of AICR felt compelled to write several pages of incredibly personal stories that they were happy to share with others. By inspiring and engaging their supporters, AICR was able to successfully grow its legacy income considerably.


The AICR legacy campaign phase has elicited 114 pledges, eight responses indicating the intention to leave a legacy and 59 requests for further information. Based on an average legacy gift of £20,000, the pledges will be worth over £2.2m, if they are all fulfilled.


It shows the power of friend-raising before fundraising and the importance of strong, emotional and involving stories. It would have been easy to send the charity’s supporter base a standard legacy letter and to have been pleased about any pledges received. However, this two-step approach works much better. It’s all about connecting with the donor, giving them the chance to share and then showing that you’ve listened by responding to the stories by talking other people’s experiences. By responding to their stories and sharing them with others, AICR were able to make donors feel more connected to the cause and therefore far more likely to consider leaving a legacy.

The AICR legacy campaign won the award for the best legacy campaign in the UK’s Institute of Fundraising national awards, 2010.

Roger Lawson, a director at The Good Agency, says:

‘We are delighted to have won this award but, most importantly, to have produced such a successful legacy fundraising campaign for the AICR. We wanted to encourage people who support the charity to really think about why they give and the difference it makes. It was a challenge to speak to this audience about such a sensitive issue but this campaign shows that real people and real stories are a strong motivator for others.’
View original image
By creating real, personal, one-to-one conversations, AICR not only inspired their supporters, they also made them feel as though they really cared.
View original image
AICR’s Inspiring stories book.