Supporting the Cancer Council's Relay For Life


Case Studies

The Client

Cancer Council


No consistent method for benchmarking performance.


Introduced .idPlacemaker which connected event performance to underlying demographic indicators.


Clear understanding of which events are achieving their potential and which are underperforming. More effective allocation of training resources to volunteers.

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Relay for Life is one of the Cancer Council’s flagship fundraising campaigns. We worked with them to develop a rigorous strategy for increasing both participation and funds raised.

With over 200 individual events around the country, they were also looking for a method to identify promising areas and communities in which to focus the development of new events.

Deploying an .idPlacemaker application specifically tailored to Cancer Council’s needs, .id were able to help Relay for Life construct a methodology for comparing the success of individual events, and identifying communities with favourable demographic characteristics. The ability to compare ‘like with like’ also helped focus training and development efforts across events.


Relay For Life began in Australia in 1999, when the Victorian community of Murrumbeena raised over $75,000 for the Cancer Council. Relay For Life is now run in every state and territory and raises over $24 million each year for cancer research.

Although Relay For Life runs in some 6,000 communities across 24 countries around the world, it remains a not-for-profit event and is primarily operated by volunteers.

Taking charge of the newly formed Relay for Life Business Unit, Mr Rick Willis became responsible for overseeing fundraising growth in Australia, with an aim of increasing donations to $36 million in the next 3-5 years, as well as raising participation from 140,000 to 240,000 people.

However, prior to the creation of the national business unit, each state had managed and recorded the performance of its events differently, and there was no consistent evidence base upon which to make investment and resource allocation decisions.

Mr Willis needed a consistent way of benchmarking the performance of individual events across the country. He also needed a mechanism for identifying under-performing events and untapped geographic areas of potential and promise for new Relay for Life events.

The .id solution

.id’s spatial consultants ran a workshop with Mr Willis and his team to agree on benchmark KPIs and to carefully select which spatial and demographic data would be loaded into the .idPlacemaker application.


Mr Willis reports that ‘the consultation process with .id was priceless,’ and enabled the Relay for Life team to understand and engage with the results of the modelling effectively, and ultimately, to invest with confidence.

Custom-built around Relay for Life’s needs, the .id Placemaker application initially mapped the performance data for each of the 200+ events around the country. This was then overlayed with heat maps showing the socio-demographic data of the underlying population.

This process has helped Cancer Council understand the profile of the communities they operate in, and given them the ability to model event performance against underlying demographic characteristics. They now have the ability to categorise existing and potential event communities, work out what they can learn from events that perform well, and understand the potential of those events that are underperforming.

As Mr Willis says:

“We’ve never had ability to compare like with like. Now we can do that and expand.”

Mr Willis also reports that the custom-built reports have been “pivotal” in understanding event performance. For example, they have given staff the tools they need to have objective goal-setting conversations with their volunteer committees.

The insights gained from the .idPlacemaker project have also led to an evidence-based strategy for allocating training resources to thousands of volunteers, as well as a way in which to measure the success of these efforts.

.idPlacemaker has now become an essential component of Relay for Life’s vision for growth. In Mr Willis’ words,

“.idPlacemaker enables you to make intelligent, evidence-based decisions to help grow your business.”

Learn more about .id’s services for non-profits.

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