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Review for ALSAC-St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, TN, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

As the father of a patient at St. Jude, I wanted to weigh in on their fundraising. First, and foremost, I want to thank anyone who has ever donated to St. Jude. It’s a big organization that has relied on small gifts from millions of people over the last 50 years. And because of those gifts, St. Jude has better been able to understand and treat my son’s type of rare cancer. I’ve been on both sides of the coin, and giving to St. Jude is very compelling. It is an easy decision and it feels good to help children fight for their lives. But when you become the beneficiary of those gifts, it is hard to describe how overwhelming the feeling of gratitude is. I vividly remember driving onto their campus for the first time, how relieved my wife and I were to know that we were at the place that knew more about childhood cancer than any other place in the world. As such, before I say anything about the fundraising process at St. Jude, I want to say thank you to everyone who has supported their work. It is because of so many peoples’ generosity that St. Jude gives families like ours that peace-of-mind.

Officially, ALSAC is the fundraising organization responsible for raising 75 percent of the money that funds St. Jude each day. It is a very big organization with two priorities. First, a big part of what ALSAC does is telling the world about childhood cancer. It is not a cause that is championed by religious groups, business, or government. There is no big advocacy group. There are small groups doing things around the world, usually related to families who have been affected by childhood cancer, but nothing significant. That leaves ALSAC as the organization that keeps the cause in the public’s attention through their various media outlets, all which cost money. The second part of what they do is raise money for research and treatment of these diseases. ALSAC employees something like 1,500 people and hosts hundreds of events each year for donors all over the country. They rely on a lot of volunteer hours as well. ALSAC uses an external agency to benchmark their costs to make sure they are in-line with peer organizations. While they have to keep their costs reasonable, they also need to attract talented professionals. It is my experience that those talented professionals will work at ALSAC for less than they can make in the private sector. But we need them to have good people because what they do is significant.

As it relates to their CEO pay, remember that they list two CEOs. One is the CEO of ALSAC, Rick Shadyac, who makes a little bit less than the peer average even though he is an unbelievable leader for that organization and left a lucrative career in the private sector. We know him personally. We met him the first week we were at the hospital. He remembered my son’s name after the first time he met him. He knows all of the children it seems. He is visibly anguished when a child loses their battle, which unfortunately still happens. And he is a tireless advocate for them. He is the leader in the cause of fighting childhood cancer and we need him in that spot. There is also a CEO of the hospital, St. Jude, whose salary is reported. That has been Dr. William Evans, although he is in the process of retiring as CEO. Dr. Evans is a renowned scientist who St. Jude has been lucky to have.

My family is so grateful that people have given their money to ALSAC/St. Jude for the past 50 years because it has given my son a better chance in the fight for his life. We are grateful for the people at ALSAC and St. Jude who have dedicated their careers to fighting childhood cancer. As a donor, I don’t want our gifts to be wasted. And as the father of a patient at St. Jude, I assure you that they are not.

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