Race for Life

How RAPP harnessed the power of social connections to drive participation, sponsorship, and donations for the “Race for Life.”


Founded in 1994 by Cancer Research UK, the “Race for Life” is the largest women-only fundraising event in the UK. Despite admirable growth, the organisation wanted to harness more organic advocacy from the 670,000 people that had signed up for the race—both to encourage more people to take part, and to help drive sponsorship. Believing social was key, they partnered with RAPP, asking the agency to help it test out social media as an acquisition, sponsorship, and donation channel.

RAPP recognised that, in its roster of race participants, Cancer Research UK already had the perfect list of “best and most engaged supporters.” The participants’ social connections gave RAPP a way to reach a massive pool of other potential participants in an efficient, personally relevant way.

The solution was a referral email with a simple call to action—“invite your friends”—that participants could use to ask friends to join them at their local race. There were three response options: Email a Friend; Invite by Facebook; or Tell Your Friends on Twitter.

Personalisation was key to the campaign’s success. Participants could customise their content, editing the subject and populating the email with social sites that friends could relate to—a unique, user-generated “Race for Life” communication that got results. It enabled Cancer Research UK to be in front of a new audience, without needing that audience to opt in.

The outstanding success of this trial has demonstrated to Cancer Research UK the importance of social media as a central element of their future fundraising strategy, which they have since adopted.


Our Impact


increase in registrations through advocacy email and posts


posts shared


friends clicking


email click through rate


Million impressions