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The first year of the new strategy period started amid the Covid-9 pandemic. 2020 had already taught us how to operate under conditions where all sorts of encounters and gatherings were severely restricted.

Interacting with people plays a central role in the work of the CSF. Personal counselling, peer support, support group activities and other forms of psychosocial support are based on face-to-face encounters. At least that was our thinking before the pandemic. The past two years have shown that if you cannot meet face-to-face, you can still provide psychosocial support. For example, brief therapy was provided online with good results in 2020-21, but the short-term support from the Funding Centre for Social Welfare and Health Organisations (STEA) did not allow the service to continue.

The pandemic has not necessarily had a significant impacted services for people with cancer and their loved ones. Rather, it is the way the CSF operates that has changed – perhaps permanently in some cases. The board has met once in a hybrid meeting (some attending in person, others remotely), but other meetings have been held remotely. On the positive side, there has been active participation in the meetings. The traditional Cancer Society Days, which were to be held in Turku, were postponed several times and finally by 18 months from the original date to May 2022. Instead of the Cancer Society Days, an online event on similar topics was offered to the CSF folk twice in the autumn. The experience was promising!

We now have a reasonable idea of what can and cannot be organised as a virtual event. Some meetings of the governing bodies can continue to be held remotely. This will also save money, time and reduce climate emissions. Many training courses can also be held remotely and we have learned to organise group work in connection with them. Staff meetings also work well online. And some services for patients and their relatives can be delivered remotely. But there is no substitute for face-to-face meetings. They allow you to perceive and experience the other person in a more complete and nuanced way. Even short, unplanned conversations with different people in the context of meetings can be meaningful. They cannot be experienced remotely. It is difficult to foster spontaneity in the network context.

To be effective in achieving its purpose, the CSF needs a strong funding base. It is funded by government grants (STEA and the National Institute for Health and Welfare –THL), membership fees (member associations) and its own fundraising. There is currently a high degree of uncertainty regarding state subsidies, as the government has not yet decided how the organisations will be funded from 2024 onwards. Our membership has been steadily declining, but this is something we can influence ourselves. Some associations have even seen an increase in membership. Self-fundraising is more important than ever. The Cancer Foundation’s fundraising is getting stronger every year, and its role as a supporter of the CSF and its member associations is more important than ever.

Active fundraising by the third sector has developed by leaps and bounds in recent years. The Cancer Foundation and the CSF’s member associations have to compete for donations under increasingly challenging conditions. The Cancer Foundation has managed to position itself, and in particular the Pink Ribbon campaign, as one of the most popular donation sources. In 2021, Pink Ribbon proceeds far exceeded its targets and already approached €5 million. Fundraising is a professional activity, where only a good cause, the right way of describing it and a first-class command of all aspects of fundraising can lead to success. Here too, we hold the key.

Cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation require robust research to make progress. The Cancer Foundation is the main private funder of cancer research in Finland. In 2021, the foundation distributed more than €7.2 million in research grants. For this, we have to say a big thank you to our donors! One of the major grants in 2021 was made possible by a group of donors who raised €450,000 for this purpose during the year.

Advocacy has always been an important part of the CSF’s work. In recent years, particular attention has been paid to it, both in terms of human resources and in strengthening cooperation with various stakeholders. In spring 2021, the Board adopted a comprehensive and thorough Social Policy Paper, which is the substantive basis for our advocacy work. One of our years-long, multifaceted and persistent advocacy projects culminated in the government’s decision to add colorectal cancer screening to the national screening programme from the beginning of 2022.

Thanks to a broad and motivated pool of volunteers, skilled and committed staff and loyal donors, the future of CSF is bright. This is important because our work and services will be needed even more in the future.