My Nonprofit Reviews
Review for American Cancer Society Inc, Atlanta, GA, USA
As a cancer survivor, I have read many reviews of ACS and have looked into their annual reports in detail several times. I have tried to see both the pros and cons and be open to all the information. I think they do a good job of cancer awareness and education, but do little to effect the three areas that are most important to cancer patients and their families: 1) Find a better test - many cancers still do not have a good, reliable diagnostic test which would allow early diagnosis and better prognosis for the patient 2) Develop better treatments - whether those treatments help extend life, or are simply more tolerable with fewer side effects or a lower cost 3) Actually find a cure, or help prevent recurrence, the latter being a big issue for many cancer patients that do go into remission, only to recur later. On these three issues, I do not feel the ACS does a very good job. Only about 15% of all their funds go to any kind of cancer research, which is what most people care about when they donate to ACS or participate in a cancer walk. If you look into some of what qualifies as "Research" at ACS, it is not exactly clinical trials or new treatments, but a study on "The impact of cancer on siblings" or "Incidences of cancer near power plants" or something of that ilk. So out of the 15% of funds that do go to cancer research, only about half of that is meaningful, such as actual lab research studies, clinical trials, biological research, etc. Out of that 7% or so of funds, the bulk of it goes to 3 cancers, breast cancer, lung cancer, and colon cancer. So, if you are dealing with a brain tumor, esophogeal cancer, melanoma, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer or anything that is not one of the top 3, you are getting maybe a 100th of a penny out of each dollar raised at those cancer walks. Or maybe no sliver at all, since the figures are for national spending, and it could be that ACS has not funded anything in your state for your particular cancer in several years. So, in terms of helping to save lives, sorry ACS is not doing the job they purport to do. They spend close to 30% of all donations on more fundraising, PR, admin and overhead costs. Not a very good ratio. They do a good job of marshalling lots of volunteers into doing their work for them. As mentioned previously though, that is like giving them credit for all the volunteer time and donations by volunteers. I can't personally trash this organization as they do have some saving graces, but as an alternative, I would highly recommend giving your money instead to the Cancer Research Institute in NY, which is actively funding cutting edge research in immunological approaches to cancer, which have resulted in some great new treatments including vaccines to prevent recurrences in several types of cancer (melanoma, lung) and to prevent cancer in at least one type (Cervical.) If you look at their page, it is all five star reviews, mostly by the actual scientists, doctors and researchers who do the studies. So if you really want to help an organization that is doing something to beat cancer, look them up both on this site as well as on Charity Navigator. Oh, one last thing about ACS - the person who said they are spending all their money on meetings and retreats at fancy hotels - they are right, I have witnessed lavish luncheons at our local Marriott where they try to recruit and pump up the volunteers for the various cancer fundraisers they do. I was sad to see this kind of waste of money, knowing that people contributed their hard earned dollars to these cancer walks, only to buy hotel rooms and lunches for their staff. So, with that I give it a max 2 stars, just for the education and awareness portion of their work.
Review for Cancer Research Institute, Inc., New York, NY, USA
I give this organization my top rating because I am very familiar with the work they do. I was a participant in a cancer vaccine trial that was underwritten by the Cancer Research Institute. I know that this trial would not have happened without the research grant from CRI.
As a result of the clinical trial I participated in 7 years ago, I am still in remission from ovarian cancer today, and I am extremely grateful to CRI for their support of this small research study.
I have also had the opportunity to meet their staff and attend some fundraising events. They have a lean, well run organization with an admirably high percentage of funds going directly to grants for cancer immunotherapy research. I have also personally met several of the research scientists they support, and these are internationally known researchers with excellent credentials. They all say how important the financial support of CRI has been in making it possible to conduct their groundbreaking studies.
CRI has a fascinating website too, with some really great information on recent advances in cancer immunotherapy. Some of the current successes out there now such as Gardisil (cervical cancer vaccine) and Provenge (prostate cancer vaccine) came from researcher studies CRI helped to underwrite. A recently approved vaccine to prevent recurrence in melanoma is the latest CRI supported research effort on its way to the consumer market. So they are really accomplishing a lot.
This is a first-rate charity. It is one of the few I would actually contribute money to, because of their great track record in supporting cancer immunotherapy research, the many successes that have come out of the studies they help to fund, and the high standards they meet as a charitable organization.
I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...
See above - I have attended a few of their educational and fundraising events and find the organization, and the doctors they support, to be first rate.
If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...
Not change a thing.