80 percent of ACS donations benefits patients

  • Saturday, May 18, 2019 1:30am
  • Opinion

Did you ever give to a charity organization only to discover that the money you donated didn’t get to the folks who needed it?

It’s a reasonable fear when you hear about charity scams, or huge overhead costs where the organization receives 80 percent of the donations, and the charity is lucky to see 20 percent.

Those less-than-charitable organizations—like the one bad apple that spoils the entire barrel—create suspicion and rumors about charity operations that are doing right by donors.

The American Cancer Society is one of the good guys. Its Relay For Life North Snohomish County starts at noon July 20 at Asbery Field in Marysville, continues all night and concludes at 8 a.m. July 21. For details go to www.relayforlife.org/northsnohomishcowa. In 2018, ACS spent nearly 80 percent of donor dollars on mission programs, such as cancer research, programs and service to benefit cancer patients. Just over 21 percent was for support services. The average overhead for nonprofits in the U.S. runs about 35 percent, according to Charity Navigator, a watchdog group for charitable contributions.

“We are very careful to spend our donor dollars wisely,” said Katie Tormohlen, community development manager for the Relay For Life of North Snohomish County. “There isn’t one volunteer who wouldn’t prefer to see donor dollars going to benefit cancer patients, community awareness and risk reduction programs. Every move we make is based on being good stewards.”

For example, in Snohomish County, nearly 1,100 taxi vouchers were given to cancer patients who needed to get to treatment and asked ACS for help getting there in 2017. Volunteer drivers provided 472 rides to patients who needed transportation and 173 free hotel rooms were given to patients who traveled for treatment and needed to stay nearby. Almost 1,300 gift items, such as scarves, hats, prosthesis and turbans, were given to patients. The society also provides wigs for those who lose their hair during treatment. If you are wondering how ACS is rated, the nonprofit holds the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance National Charity Seal, which provides a clear, concise and accessible means for donors and constituents to find out if a national charity meets comprehensive standards established by that alliance. The alliance is a national charity watchdog affiliated with the BBB. The seal provides the giving public with an easily recognizable symbol certifying the American Cancer Society adheres to its standards. “Since 1991, we’ve seen cancer death rates decline 23 percent—that’s 1.7 million fewer cancer deaths,” Tormohlen said. “Our goal is to create forward momentum—to keep funding cancer research until no one hears the words ‘you have cancer.’”

There is still time to form a Relay For Life team for the July event. Volunteer organizers have created an app to help people with fundraising. You can watch a video on all the tips to get a team together and help fundraise at www.cancer.org/involved/donate/download-mobile-app

Christina Kelly is communications director for the ACS.

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