Thursday, July 21, 2011

Cancer relay for life donations...where does the money go?

The American Cancer Society

The mission statement of the American Cancer Society (ACS) reads: "Founded in 1913, the American Cancer Society (ACS) is the nationwide community-based voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer, saving lives, and diminishing suffering from cancer, through research, education, advocacy, and service. With more than two million volunteers nationwide, the American Cancer Society is one of the oldest and largest voluntary health agencies in the United States. Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, the ACS has state divisions and more than 3,400 local offices."

Many chose to become involved with the ACS fundraising events, including the "Relay for Life". The funds collected by the ACS are used for many causes. The numbers, in millions:

Childhood Cancer Research - $6.2

Other Research - $143

Prevention - $177

Detection/Treatment - $129

Patient Support - $275

Management - $63

Fundraising - $222



Looks black and white to us. The numbers speak for themselves with regard to the funding for childhood cancer, but just to be clear, 0.6% of funds are directed towards research to cure the entire suite of childhood cancers.


Imagine you participate in a Relay-For-Life. You raise $1,000. $270 (27%) goes to admin and fundraising costs. Only $150 goes to any research, and only $6 of that $1000 you raised is targeted towards childhood cancer.

The Stats
Overall, Charity Navigator gives ACS 3 of 4 stars but only 1 of 4 stars for efficiency. John Seffrin, Chief Executive Officer earns $685,884 or 0.06% of expenses. Program expenses (what it spends on the programs and services it exists to deliver) are 72%, management 6% and fundraising expenses 22%. Total revenue in 2009 was $897,051,000.

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