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American Cancer Society Inc

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Cancer, Community & Neighborhood Development, Economic Development, Human Service Organizations, Human Services

Mission: To eliminate cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer, saving lives, and diminishing suffering from the disease through research, education, advocacy, and service.

Programs: Research programs provide financial support to fund and conduct research into the causes of cancer; how it can be prevented, detected early, and treated successfully; how to improve the quality of life for people living with cancer; and to advocate for laws and policies that help further cancer research. Our research program expenses included both our extramural research grants and intramural program, which includes our comprehensive cancer prevention study ('cps-3'). Grants to affiliates: $3,408,964

patient support programs assist cancer patients and their families in an effort to ease the burden of the disease for them. Expenses included our specific assistance to individuals through the look good feel better program; our 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year national cancer information center; and our hope lodge facilities, which provide free, high quality, temporary lodging for patients and their caregivers close to treatment centers, thereby easing the emotional and financial burden of finding affordable lodging. Grants to affiliates: $22,499,629

prevention programs provide the public and health professionals with information and education to prevent cancer occurrence and to reduce the risk of developing cancer. Prevention expenses included activities such as our ongoing advocacy efforts to increase certain state tobacco taxes in addition to general prevention work. Grants to affiliates: $14,441,453

Community Stories

57 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

American Cancer Society is not publicly respected and they are not trustworthy because of their poor reputation and shams. All they are interested is to get your money. Here are just a couple of public record links about them:

http://naturalsociety.com/100-page-report-american-cancer-society-scam/

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/05/24/american-cancer-society--more-interested-in-wealth-than-health.aspx

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've volunteered for many organizations and I have never found one that is as good as the American Cancer Society. The biggest reason I support the American Cancer Society is because they are one of the few cancer charities that actually fund research for the cure. They have also funded 47 nobel prize winners researching the cure for cancer.

5

General Member of the Public

Rating: 2

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.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 4

No organization is perfect, every company needs to have overhead or they don't operate. For all of you who balk at the CEO making 600,000+ put it into perspective. This is a national organization with thousands of employees to manage and millions of donation dollars to distribute. Yes this is a non-profit charity, but you still need to attract top talent to run such a large charity responsibly. The CEO isn't getting paid millions as other CEO's of comparable sized companies are. I think they should be commended for being able to get the leadership they have for the prices they are paying and a lot of that is because their staff all have a personal connection to the cause. Relays are great events that bring together communities for a great cause. ACS offers many services and donates directly to cancer research. Not many other charities can say that. If it's not for you I understand, but bashing of an entire charity because you had one bad experience or don't believe the head of an nation wide charity deserves to get paid as little as they do compared to other CEO's.

Review from Guidestar

7

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

I have a friend who worked for the ACS in one of its call centers. He said that a large part of their training is to learn who all the other non-profit organizations are, then refer the caller to them by giving the other non-profits telephone numbers. This gets the patients and families off their backs. ALL of the best ACS programs are operated and carried out by volunteers. And, as some other commenter said, the wigs, bras, supplies, are all donated. Drivers to appointments are volunteers. Camps for kids are all donated with volunteers. He also said that ACS hourly employees were almost forced into making candy, selling hot dogs, making and selling crafts, and anything else they can think of to make money for ACS which they have to do on their own time with their own money, and then BUY the stuff from each other. He said they were also supposed to answer questions that came through email or regular mail. One such question he received was "Is there a test yet for ovarian Cancer?" When he tried to find out the answer (other than "no", ie try to find out and provide the latest research, updates, etc), he was told "Just tell her NO." The ACS is primarily there to support the employees and their pension plans. As others also have said: KEEP YOUR MONEY LOCAL. All the volunteers in your county or city who willing to work: organize on your own and keep the money for local cancer patients who need help. DO NOT GIVE TO ACS! YOU WILL BE WASTING YOUR MONEY THAT YOU BELIEVE IS GOING IN MEMORY OF YOUR FRIENDS OR FAMILY MEMBERS WHO HAVE DIED!

Previous Stories
7

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

The people who have given ACS 5 stars need to sit up and smell the coffee. Wake up! If you don't believe CN's (bad) ACS rating is worth considering, do a little research. You don't have to look far to find out the truth about ACS. If you don't trust the rating of Charity Navigator, check out other reputable organizations who do the same thing. If you just google a little, you'll find out a lot. Also, the fact of the employee pension plan is huge. Of course they can't drop employees who are currently drawing their pension. But if the money wasn't coming from donors, they would immediately do what large corporations have done: stop funding the pension plans for current employees. Of course it's legal, it's done all the time. Not good for employees, but the DONATED money in ACS's case could then go toward research and also to helping cancer patients more directly. ACS mission is not to set up their employees for their retirement years--it's to fight cancer. If they really believed that, they would follow through and make the necessary cuts.

Just a few links from a casual google:

http://www.indeed.com/forum/cmp/American-Cancer-Society/s-company-culture-at-American-Cancer-Society/t16550
ACS employee:
...You are expected to meet workplans that are sometimes ridiculous while being forced in training/brainwashing sessions, sometimes every week, but definitely at least once a month. These are usually overnight events. They try to brainwash you so you can explain to people where their money goes, when really it is going to pay for all the meetings, hotel rooms, salaries, gas, car rentals, food, etc. that you use each month. My expense report averaged over $2000 a month! It is disgusting to participate in a huge, extravagant 3 day meetings, but we were not allowed to give a patient the money to pay for a small co-pay on their much needed medication. I have even seen die-hard volunteers accept employment positions with ACS and then quit after a few months because of how appalled they are with how ACS is run.

http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/american-cancer-society-where-does-your-money-go/nFX4j/

http://www.wtflungcancer.com/where-do-your-relay-for-life-donations-go-american-cancer-society-doesnt-tell-you/

http://www.preventcancer.com/losing/acs/wealthiest_links.htm

http://www.chondrosarcoma-support.org/index.php?topic=963.0

Review from CharityNavigator

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7

Volunteer

Rating: 2

I was a Team Captain for the Relay for Life in 2014. My team of 14 people raised $3,600. I was naïve and thought most of the money raised would go towards cancer programs. I did not know that most of the money would go to pay the executives who run ACS. I have also been bombarded with emails, mail and calls asking for more donations. It’s sad that most of the money goes for salaries and fundraising events than to cancer programs. I will find another cancer program to support.

7

Client Served

Rating: 1

I found out that I had stage 2 colorectal cancer in 2010. I had surgery to remove 8 inches of my colon and 2 inches of my rectum. I was declared cancer free. But a year later my follow up colonoscopy showed I had both cancers again. This time I had stage 3B colorectal cancer, went through weeks of daily radiation therapy, carried a chemo pump which continuously pumped chemo into me. Then I had all of my colon and rectum surgically removed with chemotherapy afterwards. I lived, even though most people with my condition do not (about 90% do not live with colorectal cancer with those stages twice). Not once did the American Cancer Society help me. Not one thin dime. And since there have not been any direct research funded by this organization recently that has helped cure colorectal cancer, I have decided to let people in my area, Lawrence, Kansas, know that their money donated for cancer help would be better spent elsewhere.

9

General Member of the Public

Rating: 3

After reviewing the financial statements, looking at the organization's 990, and the Stewardship report, I find it hard to believe that people are so thoughtless in their reviews.

Yes the organization has cut a lot of programs, probably because the organization has been going through a massive overhaul! This may be the reason why there have been major cuts this past year and a half.

People are also complaining about the structure and pay scale of these organizations, something that is being handled in the same manner as most other not for profit, or even corporations in the US. The board of directors, who are comprised of elected organization members, vote on compensation for executives and officers of the organization. What all these complaints encompass is a systemic problem prevalent across the US, not because the organization is bad. Since this higher pay scale is systemic it means finding excellent executive officers can be costly! They seem to have the skill set that everyone wants! So, just because this is a not for profit organization, does not mean that it can be run any old way- by any old unqualified persons!

Please read the information that is provided to us, all of this information I got from reputable sources of information available to the PUBLIC, in the previously mentioned sources. Please pay attention to the circumstances!

9

Volunteer

Rating: 2

If you google ACS, it states that the CEO made 1 million dollars - then in 2011, ACS gave him a raise - HE NOW MAKES 2.4 MILLION A YEAR.

9

Volunteer

Rating: 1

I have volunteered for ACS for seven years as a committee member for Relay For Life and a Road to Recovery driver. Our county raises over $400K every year for Relay For Life. We have (had) an amazing committee and a phenomenal event chair for the past seven years. Now ACS has asked our chairperson to step down with no one in the wings to take over. This event chair has dedicated her life to Relay For Life and has been treated with no respect from ACS. The whole committee is quitting and ACS doesn't seem to care. They have to follow their "best practices" which say that no volunteer should serve on the committee for more than 2 years. The staff partners at ACS are paid very little so they really don't care about the "cause". It's just a job to them. And they certainly don't care about their volunteers. All I have to say is that there are many non profit organizations out there where more of the money they raise is spent on research and programs. Our community will find another organization to give our $400K to....one that appreciates it's volunteers. And one where the CEO doesn't make $628K per year salary. To think that our year of fundraising doesn't even pay the CEO's salary... Wow. Check out The Cancer Research Institute or Livestrong on the charitynavigator.org. They are much better organizations!

9

Volunteer

Rating: 2

I'm a cancer survivor and former beneficiary of ACS. They have helped me through their childhood cancer programs quite a lot, and now, as an adult, I know the immense impact that those programs had in my life.

Recently they have cancelled the program that allowed me, as a child, to attend summer camp even when I wasn't well. An experience that remains the catalyst for most of the best things in my life (talking best friends I have, a woman I love, the ability to positively affect the lives of kids in a position I used to be in myself. Life altering stuff.).

In addition, they have cancelled the scholarship program that allowed me to graduate from college. I do not come from money, and my childhood treatment bankrupted my folks. This scholarship saved my future in the career I fell in love with.

All of this could be forgiven if it was necessary. It is not necessary, however. These programs are reported to cost $1 million annually. They say they just cant afford it anymore, that they're trimming the fat. And yet in the board room THIS YEAR there are bonuses of upwards of $1.5 million.

Quality of life matters to more than just your executives, ACS. I am deeply disappointed that this has been forgotten.

Review from CharityNavigator

7

Volunteer

Rating: 1

As someone who decided to become a team Captain for their college's Relay for Life, I have been less then thrilled with the experience. I am representing and leading a small church group, we don't have many members and we don't have the most resources as compared to other participating. It began to bother me that in the RFL meetings, all that would be talked about was money and to raise as much money for them as possible; survivors, treatment and everything else was barely mentioned and certainly not stressed.
Each team had to raise at least 200 dollars to get a campsite, or else we wouldn't have had anywhere to put our stuff. If a team didn't have a large donation or a lot of members, they were heavily criticized by the organizers. Many small groups were flat out told it was worthless for them to participate, which I would think the organization should be thankful for any help they get. I think their rudeness should speak for itself.
I really wanted to support Relay for Life and our group was originally excited to support others who have had to fight such a tough battle, but I am very disenchanted with how I have seen the money used and the fact that the only thing being stressed is to raise money, not awareness or education or research but just money. When I asked the organizers how the money would be used that was raised, they couldn't give me an answer, which did bother me; however they were able to tell me what prizes I could earn as a team captain if my team raised so much money.
My experience may be due to the fact that this is a college campus and these were students running the event; however when I was talking to a family friend who is both a cancer survivor and how had participated in Relay for Life (in a different states location) her experience seemed very much like mine.

Review from CharityNavigator

4

Advisor

Rating: 5

http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_pallotta_the_way_we_think_about_charity_is_dead_wrong.html

I think if you take 18 minutes to listen to the video above, you might see that these ratings are crap. The fact is yes, they only get about 1/3 of their donations into the cause... but that is 100's of millions of dollars.... 100s!!!!!! Listen.

Review from CharityNavigator

3

Advisor

Rating: 1

A plant based diet has been proven to CURE CANCER. This company is a complete sham. End of story.

13

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

It amazes me that so many people can take the advice from one internet site and believe it all to be true. I have worked with and for this company and I am just flabbergasted at how narrow minded some people can be. I understand that people come to this site to become more educated however, from the post that are on here they are not. My recommendation is, if you want to donate to an organization call them and ask questions! One person said it's hard to find financials on ACS. Sure their web site isn't as user friendly as it once was but every local office has them and the 1-800 number will mail them to you! I would also like to know where the CEO makes millions come from. I worked for ACS for 6 years and he never made more and $600,000. Do I think that's a lot, sure, but he's also sitting at the table with the president trying to change legislation so that EVER person who gets cancer, insurance or not will get treatment. And to the non-profit president that couldn't believe that ACS would send people to them, if you would call your local ACS office you would understand that because they are good stewards of their donor dollars they don't repeat programs that already exist in an area. Now, should you not be able to help all the people who need your services then yes, they would start that program. I also understand peoples frustration with ACS not handing out checks to people but that is not part of their mission. Finding a cure is.
People need to stop being lazy, start being proactive and stop believing everything you read on the internet.

4

Donor

Rating: 1

This organization is a sham along with all the other big charities, Red Cross, etc. It is reprehensible to pay over $600K dollars for a chief executive. Other than sucking up huge amounts of money, what does this organization really do? Only $1 of every $3 donated actually goes to someone. The rest pays chief executives and folks like ACS DS Dan. If you really want ot make a difference, donate your money to a charity that does not have the bloated, overpaid, and just PLAIN GREEDY executive staff.

5

Donor

Rating: 2

We have been giving to ACS since 2007 and sporadically for a number of years before that. I rated it two stars because that coincides with the Charity Navigator rating. It bothers me that the CEO's salary is well over $600,000 a year... hey, this is a non-profit. We just received a 2013 Annual Fund solicitation in the mail today, but we are not going to give any longer until they earn at least 3 stars, and preferably 4 stars. Even then, if the CEO salary is not reduced or capped, we might never donate again.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a volunteer with the American Cancer Society fo several years now and I am saddened by all the negative comments and I'm not really sure where people are pulling their info from. I can tell you that I have seen first hand numerous friends that have been helped free lodging, travel, medical equipment, wigs, programs and numerous other patient services. I have also seen first hand cutbacks within the ACS organization...as in less employees....more work taken on by the remaining employees. I can tell you that our Staff partner as well as the Quality of Life Manager, Executive Director and the staff of our local office work their butts off for that organization. Anyone that thinks volunteers do it all is wrong. Granted, ACS is approximately 90% volunteer driven...but I think of that as a plus. Shame on you people for being so gullible - do what your heart tells you. Do you really think that many volunteers would be volunteering if they felt ACS mismanaged their monies? Why do you think they have such a huge volunteer base?? Because the volunteers have seen FIRST HAND how many lives have been helped by the American Cancer Society. I don't believe all the negative articles I read about places such as the American Red Cross, Komen, etc. I believe what is in my heart. I will continue to volunteer for the American Cancer Society until cancer is gone or I'm gone.

Review from CharityNavigator

2

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I am employed by the American Cancer Society. I have been reading some of these unsatisfied comments and the misinformation and unusual situations being shared are certainly disappointing but most can be easily rectified or more accurately informed with a simple call to 1-800-227-2345. Also we welcome your feedback as we are constantly trying to improve our services and to make sure that donations get routed to where they can do the greatest good.

3

Donor

Rating: 1

I have donated to this charity several time for Memorials. Not only have they NEVER acknowliedged these donations, they NEVER sent an acknowledgement to the families I "memorialized". They won't be getting any more donations from me ValentineGal