Cancer Research

Modernising a Charity With Online Donations | Future Platforms

Discover how the Race for Life app revolutionised fundraising, surpassing targets with a user-focused design and strategic integration.


Cancer Research

The client

Cancer Research is the world's largest independent cancer research organisation. As a public-funded charitable organisation, its remit is to conduct research using both its own staff and grant-funded researchers while also raising awareness about cancer and running campaigns to influence policy making. 

In 2014, Cancer Research won a competitive pitch to become a technical partner (along with the creative agency Dare) for the development of an iOS and Android app that facilitates quicker online donation. The app itself was designed to support the UK’s largest women-only fundraising event, allowing people to donate online to the charity marathon ‘Race for Life.’

Our brief 

We were tasked with transforming the way participants of the race managed their sponsorship activities in a bid to help online donations to maximise fundraising potential. Users who downloaded the Race for Life app needed a quick, creative and interesting way to promote their participation in the race whilst also keeping track of online donations via an integration with the charity payment engine, Just Giving.

The challenge faced by the charity was to keep participants motivated with their fundraising in a way that fitted around their busy lives.

What we delivered

We initially used Agile delivery methods to focus on the priority features and strategised the development of the app in collaboration with partners from Dare and Cancer Research. 

Together, we scoped out all the required features and conducted the initial design for the app while responding to feedback from the Cancer Research team, which included new features to motivate participants into reaching new training or fundraising milestones.

We implemented an official Race for Life newsfeed into the app itself, along with a countdown to the event and shareable ‘JustTextGiving’ codes to help participants in the race to not only facilitate reminders for donating to charity online, but to actually get sponsored by SMS, too.

Future Platforms maintained a close collaboration with all parties throughout the project lifecycle, especially during the planning phases, to ensure alignment before development commences.

Working alongside Cancer Research and Dare, we collaborated on their tight design and layout specifications to deliver a truly responsive final product.

Through thoughtful planning, we considered the core needs of the users who would be running the marathon and using the app itself and thus added new features accordingly.  Some of these gamified inclusions included “nudging,” “teasing,” and rewarding users to keep them motivated to hit their fundraising goals through online donations. 


We had a maintenance and reporting contract in place throughout the project, which included regular reporting on the performance of the apps, all integrations and SDKs. This highlighted potential issues before they became critical, ensuring updates were planned and delivered in the most efficient and cost-effective manner.

The maintenance contract included SLAs covering response times and target service restoration. These were covered by service credits should we not respond or deliver to expectation, and were never enacted.

To ensure well-defined and well-planned work, we use our standard process of Discover, Define and Deliver. This allows budgets to be planned and approved based on known deliverables.

Future Platforms works on Time & Materials, with regular open reporting on past and forecast burn to ensure that resources are directed cost-effectively. Running projects using agile scrum boards ensures developers always have access to tasks. Cancer Research could, therefore, easily view what was planned in each sprint through their daily and weekly involvement in sprint ceremonies.   

As a result of our efforts, the newly unveiled Race For Life  app was able to achieve: 

56k downloads to date — 79% over Cancer Research’s target