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Why charities like Cure Cancer need more support than ever post-COVID

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Every year, 9.6 million people die from cancer worldwide, and one Australian dies every 12 minutes from cancer.

In today’s research environment, funding is incredibly tight, meaning research grants are few and far between.

The majority are awarded to scientists who have a proven track record of results, leaving behind unexplored – but potentially lifesaving – research by talented young minds.

Cancer doesn’t discriminate, which is why Australian not-for-profit Cure Cancer funds early-career cancer researchers working across all cancer types.

Over the past 53 years, the organisation has raised A$69.1 million to support more than 528 lifesaving research grants.

But, like so many other charities, Cure Cancer has been hit hard by COVID-19, as restrictions on events and social gatherings have essentially brought fundraising to a standstill.

"Between the months of April and June, Cure Cancer estimates a loss in funds raised of over A$500,000 – equating to over 10,000 hours of cancer research," explains Nikki Kinloch, CEO of Cure Cancer.

"Cure Cancer receives no government funding, so our ability to fund lifesaving cancer research is solely reliant on the generous support of donors and fundraisers.

"147,956 cases of cancer are estimated to be diagnosed in Australia this year. That’s an increase of over 3,000 in 2019. It’s a disease that affects us all, whether it be directly or indirectly. We can’t afford to let crucial research stop."

Cure Cancer has come up with a number of COVID-safe ways for individuals and corporations to fundraise at home.

These include hosting a virtual "barbeCURE" or dinner party, donating what you’d usually spend on your daily commute if you’re still working from home, or putting your paused gym membership money to good use by signing up to the HIIT Cancer Back community.

Why CSR is the key to doing good business

As CEO of Volt Bank, Steve Weston is a long-term friend and donor of Cure Cancer, and his business is built on the premise that banking can be done in a way that helps people live better lives.

In keeping with that mentality, Steve is incredibly passionate about the importance of corporate social responsibility (CSR), particularly in a challenging COVID-19 world.

He believes that businesses don’t exist merely to maximise short-term profit for shareholders but are – more importantly – there to serve their community.

"They play an important role in our society, providing goods and/or services to the community, providing employment and purpose for staff, allowing them the means by which to pursue their personal goals and aspirations," Steve explains.

"CSR is really just the process by which a business acknowledges this and makes explicit the implied obligations to the society in which it operates."

COVID-19 has amplified this cause, forcing companies to adapt their business models and way of working to help flatten the curve and ensure Australia bounces back better and stronger – even if it’s at the expense of short-term profit.

"In the long run, customers will remember which businesses did the right thing and those which put short-term profits ahead of community welfare and health," Steve argues.

"They will vote with their feet to support companies who supported them, leading to the ongoing sustainable success of those businesses."

An internet-only bank, or neobank, Volt aims to reverse or replace some of the ways of doing things that had become ‘normal’ in the banking sector. "Normal to hide fees. Normal to keep loyal customers on worse deals than new ones. Normal to use confusing language. Normal to not fix mistakes. Normal to just make you feel like a number – except, of course, when it's advertising," its website reads.

For Steve, supporting a charity such as Cure Cancer is a no-brainer.

"Cancer impacts so many of us, whether directly or indirectly. I can think of no better way to tackle this issue than to support those people who are striving so hard to find a cure.

"The work that the researchers who are supported by Cure Cancer do is truly amazing," he says.

"Their vision of making this the last generation to die from cancer is incredibly inspiring but it requires the financial support from those who are in a position to help.

"We will hopefully see a vaccine be developed for COVID-19 in the coming months. If we can take that momentum towards finding a cure for cancer, the world will be in a much better place."

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