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American Cancer Society Essay

The American Cancer Society Essay

The American Cancer Society is a volunteer-based organization that is present across the United States. Its main purpose is to raise money and awareness about the severity and prevalence of cancer. Cancer education and research is where most of the focus and monetary donations are used for. The American Cancer Society strives to fulfill their goal of “less cancer and more birthdays” across all generations and populations (ACS Inc., 2011).
The American Cancer Society began its fight in 1913, starting as the American Society for the Control of Cancer (ASCC), which included fifteen members in New York City (ACS Inc, 2011). Cancer was never a high-priority disease and was often pushed to the side due to the fact that there was no treatment, harsh conditions, and low diagnosis. In 1945, after WWII, the ASCC was reorganized and renamed as the American Cancer Society (ACS) (ACS Inc, 2011). At this point, America was able to recognize problems on the home-front, which major public health issues were obvious.
In 1946, a woman by the name of Mary Lasker, a member of the original ASCC, helped raise more than $4 million for the Society, where one million of it was used to establish and fund infamous cancer research (ACS Inc, 2011). Soon after, Dr. Sidney Farber, one of the Society’s first research grantees, achieved the first temporary cancer remission in a child with acute leukemia using the drug Aminopterin (ACS Inc, 2011). The ACS has been developing research theories for decades, with approximately $3.5 billion dedicated to finding a cure to cancer through research (ACS, 2011). With the ACS name nationally recognized, they were able to help fund many national, government, and hospital prevention strategies and research.
Currently, the ACS is a nationally-known and respected organization. Most people hear of community level fundraisers for the Society, raising around one billion dollars each year. That money is used to promote education and prevention, continue research to find a cure, and to financially help those already affected. The ACS has contributed to saving lives of over eleven million people who won their battle against some sort of cancer. (ACS Inc, 2011). With over 5,000 communities taking part in the ACS fight against cancer it is one of the most prevailing organizations around (ACS Inc, 2011). The main ACS office is in Georgia, but nationally there are over 900 local offices in use today (ACS, 2011).
Overall, the ACS is focused on many different features of cancer prevention, education, research, and patient treatment. One of the main goals of the ACS is to make sure that patients do not feel alone in their fight for...

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The American Cancer Society (ACS) is a nationwide voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer. Established in 1913, the society is organized into eleven geographical divisions of both medical and lay volunteers operating in more than 900 offices throughout the United States.[2][3] Its home office is located in the American Cancer Society Center in Atlanta, Georgia. The ACS publishes the journals Cancer, CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians and Cancer Cytopathology.[4]


The society was founded on May 23, 1913 by 15 physicians and businessmen in New York City under the name American Society for the Control of Cancer (ASCC). The current name was adopted in 1944.[3][5] According to Charity Navigator the ACS is one of the oldest and largest volunteer health organizations.[3]

At the time of founding, it was not considered appropriate to mention the word ‘cancer’ in public. Information concerning this illness was cloaked in a climate of fear and denial. Over 75,000 people died each year of cancer in just the United States. The top item on the founders’ agenda was to raise awareness of cancer, before any other progress could be made in funding research. Therefore, a frenetic writing campaign was undertaken to educate doctors, nurses, patients and family members about cancer. Articles were written for popular magazines and professional journals. The ASCC undertook to publish their own journal, Campaign Notes, which was a monthly bulletin with information about cancer. They began recruiting doctors from all over the United States to help educate the public about cancer.

In 1936, Marjorie Illig, an ASCC field representative, suggested the creation of a network consisting of new volunteers for the purpose of waging "war on cancer". From 1935 to 1938 the number of people involved in cancer control in the US grew from 15,000 to 150,000. According to Working to Give, The Women's Field Army, a group of volunteers working for the ASCC was primarily responsible for this increase.[6]

The sword symbol, adopted by the American Cancer Society in 1928, was designed by George E. Durant of Brooklyn, New York. According to Durant, the two serpents forming the handle represent the scientific and medical focus of the society’s mission and the blade expresses the "crusading spirit of the cancer control movement".[7]

In 2013 the American Cancer Society embarked on a nationwide reorganization. The organization centralized its operations and consolidated, merging previous regional affiliates into the parent organization. It also required all employees to reapply for their jobs.[8][9]

Activities and fund allocation[edit]

Its activities include providing grants to researchers, including funding 47 Nobel Laureate researchers, discovering the link between smoking and cancer, and serving one million callers every year through its National Cancer Information Center. The 47 Nobel Prize laureates include James D. Watson, Mario Capecchi, Oliver Smithies, Paul Berg, E. Donnall Thomas, and Walter Gilbert.[10] The American Cancer Society's website contained a chronological listing of specific accomplishments in the fight against cancer, for example the unipod technological device of UTD, that the ACS had a hand in, including the funding of various scientists who went on to discover life-saving cancer treatments, and advocating for increased use of preventative techniques.[11] More than two million people volunteer with the ACS which has over 3,400 local offices.[3]

It also runs public health advertising campaigns, and organizes projects such as the Relay For Life and the Great American Smokeout. It operates a series of thrift stores to raise money for its operations. The ACS participates in the Hopkins 4K for Cancer, a 4000-mile bike ride from Baltimore to San Francisco to raise money for the society's Hope Lodge.[12][13]

The society’s allocation of funds for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2015, lists 75% of funds for Program Services (Patient Support 37%, Research 16%, Prevention 13.1%, Detection and Treatment 9.2%). The remaining 25% are allocated for supporting services (Fundraising 19.1%, and Management, General administration 5.5%).[14] This meets the Better Business Bureau's Standards for Charity Accountability: Standard 8 (Program Service Expense Ratio) of at least 65% of total expenses spent on program activities.[15]

In 2012 the American Cancer Society raised $934 million and spent $943 million prompting a national consolidation and cost-cutting reorganization.[8]

John R. Seffrin, former CEO of the American Cancer Society, received $2,401,112 salary/compensation from the charity for the 2009-2010 fiscal year.[15] This is the second most money given by any charity to the head of that charity, according to Charity Watch. The money included $1.5 million in a retention benefit approved in 2001, "to preserve management stability".[16] Mr. Seffrin's compensation for the fiscal year ending August 31, 2012 was $832,355.[17]

Evaluations and controversies[edit]

In 1994, the Chronicle of Philanthropy, a nonprofit industry publication, released the results of the largest study of charitable and non-profit organization popularity and credibility conducted by Nye Lavalle & Associates. The study showed that the American Cancer Society was ranked as the 10th "most popular charity/non-profit in America" of over 100 charities researched with 38% of Americans over the age of 12 choosing "love" and "like a lot" for the American Cancer Society.[6][18][19]

The Better Business Bureau lists American Cancer Society as an accredited charity meeting all of its Standards for Charity Accountability as of January 2012.[15] Charity Navigator rates the society two of four stars for fiscal year 2011.[20] According to Charity Navigator the society is directed to "eliminating cancer" and destroying it.[3] Charity Watch rates American Cancer Society a "C", stating that the Society devotes 40% of its annual expenditures to administration, fundraising, etc., with the other 60% going to fund programs.[16]

In 1995, the Arizona chapter of the American Cancer Society was targeted for its extremely high overhead. Two economists, James Bennett and Thomas DiLorenzo, issued a report analyzing the chapter's financial statements and demonstrating that the Arizona chapter used about 95% of its donations for paying salaries and other overhead costs, resulting in a 22 to 1 ratio of overhead to actual money spent on the cause. The report also asserted that the Arizona chapter's annual report had grossly misrepresented the amount of money spent on patient services, inflating it by more than a factor of 10. The American Cancer Society responded by alleging that the two economists issuing the report were working for a group funded by the tobacco industry.[21]

The American Cancer Society was criticized in 2011 for turning down participation from the Foundation Beyond Belief in its Relay For Life "National Team" program.[22][23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^"Who We Are". ACS website. Archived from the original on 2013-10-01. Retrieved 2013-11-17. 
  2. ^ ab"Facts about ACS". ACS website. Archived from the original on 2013-10-26. Retrieved 2013-11-17. 
  3. ^ abcde"American Cancer Society". Charity Navigator. Archived from the original on 2009-04-20. Retrieved 2009-04-21. 
  4. ^"Other American Cancer Society Resources". ACS website. Archived from the original on 2013-10-01. Retrieved 2013-11-17. 
  5. ^"American Cancer Society turns 100 as cancer rates fall". Fox News. Associated Press. 2013-05-22. Archived from the original on 2013-05-28. Retrieved 2013-11-17. 
  6. ^ ab"American Cancer Society: History". Working to Give: Philanthropies & Philanthropic Work. Archived from the original on 2013-10-17. 
  7. ^"Our History". ACS website. Archived from the original on 2013-11-01. Retrieved 2013-11-17. 
  8. ^ abNearing, Brian (2013-04-18). "Cancer Society chapters facing reorganization". Times Union. Albany, NY. Archived from the original on 2013-04-19. Retrieved 2013-11-17. 
  9. ^Hrywna, Mark (2013-05-31). "ACS: Next 100 years". The NonProfit Times. Morris Plains, NJ. Archived from the original on 2013-06-03. Retrieved 2013-11-17. 
  10. ^"Nobel Prize Winners". ACS. Archived from the original on 2009-02-13. Retrieved 2009-02-18. 
  11. ^"Milestones: American Cancer Society Accomplishments 1946-2004: Hope. Progress. Answers". ACS. Archived from the original on 2008-11-19. Retrieved 2008-11-19. 
  12. ^"Hope Lodge Baltimore: News". ACS. Archived from the original on 2008-11-03. Retrieved 2008-07-28. 
  13. ^"Baltimore's Hope Lodge to Benefit from Hopkins 4K for Cancer" (Press release). Office of News and Information, Johns Hopkins University. 2004-05-24. 
  14. ^American Cancer Society, Inc.; Affiliated Entities. "Combined Financial Statements As of and for the Year Ended August 31, 2010 with summarized financial information for the Year Ended August 31, 2009 with Report of the Independent Auditors"(PDF). Archived(PDF) from the original on 2012-04-02. Retrieved 2013-11-17. 
  15. ^ abc"Charity Review: American Cancer Society". National Charity Reports. Better Business Bureau. January 2012. Archived from the original on 2012-09-14. Retrieved 2013-11-17. 
  16. ^ abCharity Rating Guide and Watchdog Report. CharityWatch. 59. December 2011. 
  17. ^Pitts, Kathy: Ernst & Young US LLP (2013-05-03). "IRS Form 990: Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax for American Cancer Society, Inc. National Home Office"(PDF). Part II: p. 2. Archived(PDF) from the original on 2013-11-17. Retrieved 2013-11-17. 
  18. ^"The charities Americans like most and least". The Chronicle of Philanthropy. 1996-12-13. 
  19. ^Peterson, Karen S. (1994-12-20). "Charity begins with health". USA Today (Final ed.). p. 1D. 
  20. ^"American Cancer Society". Charity Navigator. Archived from the original on 2013-10-15. Retrieved 2013-11-17. 
  21. ^Dougherty, John (1995-01-26). "Charitable taking the Arizona division of the American Cancer Society eats up 95 percent of its budget with salaries and overhead. Cancer victims get the leftover crumbs". Phoenix New Times. Archived from the original on 2012-10-08. 
  22. ^Levy, Piet (2011-10-03). "Atheists say cancer volunteering thwarted". The Christian Century. Religious News Service. Archived from the original on 2013-11-01. 
  23. ^Christina, Greta (2012-05-11). "Atheism's new clout". Salon. Archived from the original on 2013-01-01. Retrieved 2013-05-02. 

External links[edit]

1938 American Society for the Control of Cancer poster