So, where is the money still going? -- The ACS, 2014, and childhood cancer research funding

In 2008 and 2010 we presented in-depth analysis of the amount of funding directed to childhood cancer by the American Cancer Society (ACS) and others.  We have updated the analysis for the ACS based on links to financial data provided by the ACS for 2013/2014 below. Things have not changed. 

According to the report: American Cancer Society, Inc., Management’s Discussion and Analysis..., As of and for the Year Ended December 31, 2013 prepared by Ernst and Young for The American Cancer Society:

Total revenue for the year ended December 31, 2013 was $971 million.

According to Childhood Cancer: Key background facts and American Cancer Society ...:

The Society is currently supporting 49 active, multi-year research grants for a total $23.6 million specific to childhood cancer.

Giving the ACS the benefit of the doubt and assuming that "Multi-year research grants" only last two years (when in reality they would generally last 3 to 5 years), the average annual funding from ACS specific to childhood cancer would be $23.6 million/2 years or $11.8 million per year.

$11.8 million / $971 million = 1.22% of total revenue directed to childhood cancer.

So, when you raise $100 at a Relay for Life event, 1.22%, or $1.22 goes to childhood cancer research.

We're only saying that if you want your money to go to childhood cancer research, you can find some great options for your money here and here. Or, for that matter, donate directly to the Children's Oncology Group or NMTRC.



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This is great information and highlights one commonly overlooked feature of making donations: designated funds. When you make a charitable donation to an organization, they can use that money however they see fit. This is when your donations get spread among administrative costs, fundraising costs and the like. However, you have the right to specify where and how your donation funds are used. If, when you make the donation, you specify that it is to be used for a research project or in a specific area, they, legally, are required to use that money only as you have designated it. You'll need to be specific, so if you're unsure, contact the organization and ask them about their current funds to which your money can be donated. If you've ever sent in money to a March of Dimes letter or to St. Jude's in response to the mailing labels that you received in the mail, then you've already given money to a designated fund. Don't let this power to determine how your money is spent go by the wayside!

Ami, the ACS will not let you designate where your donation goes. It all goes to their general fund. I know families who did Relay and other ACS events and raised money only to be told that they could not designate their money to childhood cancer research.

Events are created with their own designated fund, typically the general fund, unless otherwise specified. Additionally, campaigns to raise money also typically have a designated fund that goes towards their general fund.

For other donations, not associated with events and campaigns, you should be able to make donations to a specific fund.


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