Voluntary Sector: Public lacks medical research knowledge

Charity PROs should be bolder in communicating medical research success, the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) has urged.

The body, whose members include the Alzheimer's Society, the British Heart Foundation and the Parkinson's Disease Society, has spoken out after a survey it commissioned found 'a worrying lack of public understanding about the relationship between charities and medical research'.

Of the 2,000 British adults polled by Ipsos Mori, only 22 per cent thought charities were sufficiently open about their research. The respondents also found it difficult to name three medical research charities, with 30 per cent naming Cancer Research UK and 17 per cent citing the Cancer Research Campaign, a charity that has not existed since 2002.

'This is a wake-up call to charities to be bolder about their successes,' said AMRC comms director Sophie Petit-Zeman. 'Charities are in a difficult position because they do not want to raise the hopes of vulnerable patients with "miracle cure" stories. But they can afford to be bolder about singing their own praises,' she added.

'We're hiding our light under a bushel,' said British Heart Foundation's director of policy and comms Betty McBride. 'We are the sector that can say "we make a difference. Join us and make life better".'

The AMRC poll found that half of respondents were more likely to give if they knew a charity funded medical research.

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