American Institute For Cancer Research

Rating: 1.42 stars   19 reviews

Issues: Food, Health, Cancer

Location: 1759 R St Nw Washington DC 20009 USA

Mission: The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is one of the nation's largest cancer charity, focusing exclusively on the link between diet and cancer. The Institute provides a wide range of consumer education programs that help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. AICR also supports innovative research in cancer prevention and treatment at universities, hospitals and research centers across the U.S. The Institute has provided millions of dollars in funding for research in diet, nutrition and cancer.
Programs: AICR's operating programs focus on research grant funding and public education. The Institute has channeled millions of dollars into investigations of the diet-cancer link. These dollars have fostered research at leading universities, hospitals and research centers throughout the U.S. and around the world. With the nation's most extensive program of publications on diet, nutrition and cancer prevention, AICR has distributed millions of AICR educational booklets and pamphlets to the public, and hundreds of thousands of copies of reference works from AICR have reached health professionals. Nutrition seminars, public service announcements and other consumer-targeted programs help to further promote AICR's message that diet plays a major role in cancer risk.
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Community Reviews

Rating: 1 stars  

14 people found this review helpful

I got a phone call last Saturday morning at my Cape Cod vacation home from their telemarketing firm InfoCision. This was an auto-dialed call, and as best as I could tell -- from an off-the-call conversation that I could overhear the caller having with her supervisor, who I asked to speak to -- the caller was using a computer to disguise her voice as a man's. This was a total cold call -- I had no knowledge of this organization, no previous encounters with them, and no reason to do for them, apart from the caller's very one-sided explanation of what AICR does. At first, based on the name of the telemarketing firm and the caller's assurance that this was not a fundraising call, I thought it might be a survey research call about cancer or cancer research. But then came the pitch -- would I simply agree to receive in the mail 5 cards and pre-stamped envelopes and write notes to my neighbors, telling them about AICR's good work and asking THEM (my neighbors) to support the organization? Huh??? So then I started asking questions.

It turns out the organization is headquartered just a few blocks from my permanent residence in Washington, DC. I did some research about them. Although they take in tens of millions of dollars, they do not have a single medical doctor on their very small board of directors -- their long-time board chairman is an employment lawyer in South Carolina, and they also have other attorneys, as well as real estate and finance professionals, etc., on their board, but no doctor. As best as I can tell, their paid staff has no doctors either. Kind of odd for a cancer research "charity." I paid them a personal visit this morning. They're located in a lovely mansion in the heart of one of Washington's loveliest neighborhoods -- high ceilings, nice furnishings, a big wooden spiral staircase leading from the entry foyer to the second floor, etc. Their director of development told me they rent, not own. We had a discussion about their telemarketing strategy -- which I described to her as "cheesy," i.e. preying on total strangers with landline phones, who nowadays are often senior citizens vulnerable to this type of solicitation, by offering up what sounds like a very appealing description of the organization's work and then -- rather than asking for money outright -- asking them instead to write little notes to their neighbors.

BTW, when I mentioned that Charity Navigator gives them 1 out of 4 stars, she responded that they get a Gold Star from GuideStar. Now that I look more closely at the GuideStar site, that simply seems to mean that they get a Gold Star for "transparency," not for the quality of their work or for how much of their money actually goes into their asserted mission. I was also given a copy of their 2013/2014 annual report. I told them on my way out that based on what I could discern (which included an article I found in Bloomberg from a couple of years ago about Infocision's methods and fees in which AICR and other charities are mentioned), they are Exhibit A for why the loophole in the Telephone Consumer Protection Act exempting tax-exempt non-profits should be closed. I also suggested that their Executive Director send me a letter promising to terminate this kind of "cheesy" telemarketing -- in other words, if they want to fundraise by phone, they should just call people and ask for money. If people want to hang up on them, at least then it's all straightforward and honest, as opposed to trying to fool unsuspecting and sometimes downright stupid people into "volunteering" -- their word -- to send out solicitations to neighbors. In a nutshell, I wouldn't even give these folks one star -- but the GuideStar website makes us select at least one.

 
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Review from Guidestar
Rating: 1 stars  

24 people found this review helpful

I received a nice pink envelope on my door from my neighbor asking me to donate. I did what many do these days and looked them up on GuideStar. Their low star rating led me to question their practices so I took a look at their IRS Form 990. I'm sorry, but executives making in excess of $300,000 and key staff making well over $100,000 has soured my outlook on this charity. Too much of their money is going to "fundraising" for me to feel comfortable donating to them.

 
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Review from Guidestar
Role: General Member of the Public
Rating: 1 stars  

17 people found this review helpful

This organization called me repeatedly and were very aggressive in demanding money. They called my 93 year old mother who agreed to send a check. When the check did not arrive in a timely manner, they called her and demanded that she keep her promise. Fortunately I answered the phone that day and blasted them for calling with such an attitude. My neighbor tries to collect for this organization and I will give her these reviews. Do not give to this organization.

 
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Rating: 1 stars  

8 people found this review helpful

Got direct mail from them...checked them out....agree with the earlier post...not sure they make a big difference....good goals...I like the mission, but....results are what we need!

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization?

Unsure

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Some

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

 
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Rating: 1 stars  

40 people found this review helpful

So much money raised and so little goes to research. Where does it all go? This organization is one of many that make people think they are collecting money for research. Of the $25 million collected in donations last year only 10% goes to cancer research!! The educational information on cancer prevention they provide is the same information you can find anywhere for free and don't have to pay to read it. My next stop is to review their 990 form and see how much the executives are making.

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization?

No

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

A little

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

 
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Rating: 1 stars  

22 people found this review helpful

We started receiving phone calls from AICR several months ago. Three or four calls per day, including weekends and holidays. Ignoring calls didn't stop them...telling them we are not interested did not stop them...telling them that we were unable to participate in collecting funds did not stop the phone calls. Some of the calls come very early in the morning and late at night. People suffering from CA do not need to be distrubed over and over. There are legitimate organizations that conduct research and provide services to CA patients. This does not appear to be one of them.

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization?

No

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

None

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

 
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Review from CharityNavigator
Rating: 1 stars  

18 people found this review helpful

These people are scam artists who call from different numbers in the 202 area code. Do not donate.

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization?

No

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

None

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

 
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Review from CharityNavigator
Role: General Member of the Public
Rating: 1 stars  

20 people found this review helpful

The AICR earned a rating of zero as a charity. However, based on the fact that I get at least one robo call per day from their "boiler shop" they certainly are a 5 star telephone spammer.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Eliminate bothersome and perhaps illegal robo calling. The FCC should shut this outfit down.

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization?

No

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

None

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

 
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Review from CharityNavigator
Rating: 1 stars  

16 people found this review helpful

My husband recently received the "Thanks for volunteering" postcard followed by the "Volunteer Packet," which led to my research. He is not going to solicit neighbors (especially since he doesn't remember signing up for it). Plan to notify them by mail that he will not be doing it. Will post more if we hear from them again.

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization?

No

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

A little

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

 
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Review from CharityNavigator
Rating: 1 stars  

21 people found this review helpful

Two days ago I received a packet from this organization with the following on the front address page:

HERE'S THE OFFICIAL VOLUNTEER KIT YOU REQUESTED!

I did not request a volunteer kit nor have I talked to them about one, ever, as far as I know. I think there is a similar charity in Wash DC I had contact with some time ago, but it called itself Breast Cancer Research or the like and I opted out in writing.

In any case this type of mailing, unsolicited and across state lines must constitute some sort of violation - or many.

Can't say it's fraud, but it comes close.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I have had no experience with them except for this unsolicited and frankly brash mailing.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Stop this type of mailing immediately.

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization?

No

How did you learn about this organization?

Never heard of it before.

 
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Review from CharityNavigator