Bloodwise, the UK’s leading blood cancer charity, primarily focuses on the funding of research into treatments for the many different types of blood cancer that affect people of all ages (leukaemias, lymphomas, etc.).
Most of Bloodwise’s research is funded by individual donations (unrestricted funding) but the charity recognised that the total amount of research funded could be increased by gaining more funds from major donors (individuals or institutions). However, these larger donors generally want some input into where the money will go (restricted funding) and sometimes, input into the type of research funded.
Although the process for assessing potential research projects worked well for the Research Team, there was no opportunity for any useful input from the charity’s Fundraising Team. Equally, the Fundraising Team did not have good quality information about what Bloodwise-funded research had achieved previously, or about the main themes of current research.
The flow of information between Research and Fundraising regarding research funding was also poor, with no-one clear on timings for involving potential donors, no clear process or roles and responsibilities.
Ad Esse were asked to lead a project looking at the end-to-end process for funding all projects and also improving the working relationship between Research and Fundraising.
A multi-disciplinary project team identified all problems across different functions throughout the process. This revealed that the poor flow of information about the current status of activity between Research and Fundraising was due to the fact that things were not 100% certain, but by the time they were certain, it was often too late for the other team to use it.
The team mapped the end-to-end value stream, with particular focus on the flow of information about potential donors and potential research projects. All areas where better, earlier communication of information between the teams was possible were identified.
At the process redesign stage, the project team created a new process with early flow of information between teams (even if subject to revision afterwards). They also created many new, standardised documents providing useful information to teams (about existing research, outcomes from previous research or future research trends), and also standardised forms to ask questions or pass information between teams.
With usual timescales of over 12 months for research funding, demonstrating benefits in hard cash terms takes time, but immediate benefits include:
- A new process for generating research updates and proposals for Fundraising
- A standardised approach for responding to potential donors based upon donation size and impact
- Areas where FR were lacking research knowledge and content were identified and addressed, including: a list of ‘hot topics’ in blood cancer research, disease summaries that ensure that accurate, up-to-date information is used by Fundraising, current spend and expected outcomes, etc.
Tom Tyler – Head of Partnerships said ‘ We have been able to respond to donor requests and pull together proposals quicker. The one-off investment of time will save FR and Research lots of time going forwards’