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American Cancer Society

Is This Your Business?
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LAST UPDATED: April 2nd, 2024

The American Cancer Society was founded in 1913 by 15 physicians in New York City. The first mission of the American Cancer Society was to educate the public about cancer as a disease and improve its diagnosis and prognosis. Today, the American Cancer Society is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. The current mission of the organization is to eliminate cancer through education and funding of cancer research. The organization’s website is a comprehensive educational resource for those diagnosed with cancer and their families.

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The Good

  • Administrative expenses
  • Donor communication

Administrative Expenses

The American Cancer Society spends an average of 5 percent of its revenue on administrative expenses each year. Executive salaries are relatively high when compared to similar organizations, with the president and CEO of the American Cancer Society earning $1.4 million per year. However, this salary is less than the what the previous CEO of the American Cancer Society was earning.

Donor Communication

The American Cancer Society provides many ways for users to receive updates, including the organization's journal for providers, A Cancer Journal for Clinicians and Cancer Cytopathology. Donors can also receive email updates, follow the organization on social media, and expect fundraising requests via email, postal mail, and phone.

The Bad

  • Total income
  • Fundraising expenses
  • Program percentage
  • Accessible financial information
  • Negative press
  • Awards

Total Income

The American Cancer Society has had varying levels of income over the last several years. Last year's donations are down nearly $100 million from 2012. Revenues for the past five years are as follows:
  • 2015: $815,827,000
  • 2014: $812,525,892
  • 2013: $878,083,920
  • 2012: $904,294,009
  • 2011: $896,170,911

Fundraising Expenses

The American Cancer Society's fundraising budget is significantly higher than that of most similar organizations, with between 20 and 35 percent of incoming funds being spent on fundraising activities each year.

Program Percentage

Most charity watchdog organizations consider a program delivery percentage of between 70 and 80 percent as a responsible allocation of funds. However, the American Cancer Society's program percentage has varied for the last several years, ranging between 60 and 76 percent.

Accessible Financial Information

The American Cancer Society has published an infographic that provides basic financial information on its website. However, finding specific information about the total income, executive salaries, and administrative expenses of the organization is quite difficult. The last annual report which was published online by the American Cancer Society was for 2011. Additionally, the organization has published its IRS Form 990s for 2010 to 2014 on its website, but these forms are not easily accessible.

Negative Press

The American Cancer Society has been involved in a number of controversies, including the following: Executive Salaries The former president and CEO of the American Cancer Society earned a $2.4 million annual salary up until the time of his leaving the organization. In 2015, a new president and CEO, Gary M. Reedy, assumed the position. Mr. Reedy does not earn the same salary as the past president and CEO, but does receive a salary of over $1.4 million. The organization defends its high salaries, saying that the percentage of executive salaries is less than 1 percent of the annual revenue received by the organization and that caliber of leadership provided by Mr. Reedy justifies his salary. Breast Cancer Screening Changes In October 2015, the American Cancer Society announced new recommended screening practices for breast cancer detection, which brought swift criticism. Many leading physicians immediately went to the media to dispute the recommendations, stating that the organization, being influential, could change public opinion of the serious nature of breast cancer and lead women to refrain from early screenings. Past recommendations included annual screening mammograms beginning at age 40, while the new guidelines recommend beginning annual screenings at age 45. The American Cancer Society defended its new guidelines, stating that it was moving away from a one-size-fits-all approach and that the new guidelines were set to encourage communication between a woman and her doctor about appropriate screening practices for her particular situation. Refusing Entry to a National Team The humanist group Foundation Beyond Belief contacted the American Cancer Society in 2011 about sponsoring a national team for the upcoming Relay for Life fundraising event, offering up to a $250,000 pledge match for all support pledged to the team. The American Cancer Society initially welcomed the team entry, but subsequently pulled its entry and refused to communicate with the organization. Some speculate that because Foundation Beyond Belief is purportedly atheist, that the refusal was based upon potentially damaging public relations. Lack of Meaningful Research Some have criticized the American Cancer Society for not spending more on researching a cure for childhood cancers. The American Cancer Society has responded to these complaints with surprising statements suggesting that childhood cancer is not its focus and that if donors want to support the fight against childhood cancer, they should donate to other organizations. Planned Parenthood Grants As late as 2007, the American Cancer Society was providing cancer screening and prevention grants to Planned Parenthood. In 2015, when Planned Parenthood was the focus of an investigation for selling the remains of aborted fetuses for profit, a list of organizations supporting or providing funding for Planned Parenthood was released. The American Cancer Society has not disclosed the amount of funding which was previously allocated to Planned Parenthood or when the funding was ceased. However, the American Cancer Society did release this statement about the matter:
"The American Cancer Society does not fund grants to Planned Parenthood affiliates. We have previously funded a very limited number of cancer control grants to Planned Parenthood affiliates to implement cancer control (smoking cessation) programs....These grants expired several years ago. The American Cancer Society does not fund-nor has it ever funded-abortion or contraceptive counseling."


Our Review Team could not find evidence of the American Cancer Society receiving awards, which is a negative indicator of the outreach and impact of the charitable organization's program efficacy.

The Bottom Line

The American Cancer Society's income has been declining over the past several years. Additionally, the organization's administration and fundraising expenses are relatively high and its program delivery percentage is low. The American Cancer Society has been involved in a number of controversies as well.
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20 Reviews

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Joe. D

DO NOT SEEK ACCOMODATIONS THROUGH THESE DEADBEATS! The discounted plan is a scam through their partnership with Extended stinky Stays. Then good luck actually getting into a HOPE House anywhere. They are the most miserable people to deal with and they play the run around game of not even confirming availability before telling you to go get a letter from your doctor. Totally rude unprofessional and completely disgusting wasting my providers time and mine with their games. I and all other patients don't have time for this garbage ACS! You all should be better than to be so rude and inconsiderate of sick people' time and energy that we don't have to waste on your bad and worthless information.

1 month ago Edited April 2, 2024

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Stephanie Axworthy

I had cancer and went through treatment. I had much better help by just finding support and help in my area then calling the ACS. They give you company names saying they will help but the companies just spam you when you give your information. Also, phone reps just try to get you off phone, that’s it. Nothing helpful, nothing special. Do yourself a favor and call nonprofits in your area for help with cancer support. I will never donate money to this company. Way to make it harder for cancer patients by wanting to kick them off phone and giving companies that just spam you.

1 month ago

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Elisha Pretorius McKinney, TX

I am a newly diagnosed Stage 3 Cancer Patient. I contacted the American Cancer Society for rides to and from my appointment. The ACS depends on volunteers to give rides. A kind volunteer July picked up the first leg of my ride but no one picked up the 2nd leg so I have to drive myself. It’s Christmas Day 2023 and I’m extremely anxious about my first treatment. The drive to my cancer treatment is over an hour away, one way with traffic. I don’t know if I will be able to make it back home safely. Its a travesty that an organization who collects millions of dollars a year refuses to provide rides to cancer patients.

4 months ago

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Eddie Rios Ogden, UT

I have contributed to the American Cancer Society. The are a great organization that helps our local community a lot. They are managed well that most of their donations get to the right place and they have great leadership that drives their success to combat cancer.

4 years ago


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Makayla Manus Gulfport, MS

So many people in my family have had to live with and eventually pass from cancer. So this is one of the first associations that come to heart when thinking about charities. The employees are great people, and it's not much to ask to give back to the people that have been through do much. I love knowing that my money is used to help do more research on cancer and treatments for and by such amazing people.

4 years ago

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Natalia Correa MDTribe Tallahassee, FL

I work with the American Cancer Society annually to raise money for different efforts and it is always a pleasure. Their customer service is phenomenal and they live up to their mission.

4 years ago

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Miss Survivor

Their commercials are beautiful, compelling & persuasive -- a lovely faced young woman in a kerchief giving the agency their props, & a gentleman pretty much doing the same, although mentioning their RESEARCH efforts as well. OBVIOUSLY PAID ACTORS trained to SAY anything to make this incompetent agency look sensitive and professional. THEY ARE NOT!!! What this agency, however, does NOT tell you is that if you're unfortunate enough to have a RE-CURRENT cancer (as I do), they cease being pleasant & professional regarding their FREE RIDES TO CHEMO. They snap at you that "your funding has run out" and rudely suggest that you call another agency! DEPLORABLE, HOSTILE & UNPROFESSIONAL! The last agent I spoke to ("Brandon") was so insensitive you wonder how he ever got a job servicing a vulnerable population AT ALL. As if the terminal disease isn't stressful enough -- the reps should REALLY be offered more SENSITIVITY TRAINING & cease acting as though the money is coming out of THEIR pockets personally! This agency should be better versed in forseeing comprehensive CRISES needs, such as re-current cancers that plague a survivor for many years. NOBODY ASKS FOR THAT!!! WHY PENALIZE A SURVIVOR FOR NEEDING IT??? Oh, and as for their "LODGES" & "FREE PLACES TO STAY" -- another insult to ones intelligence. There are VERY few of them, NONE are local, and by the time you drive several HOURS to get to one, you're better off paying for a motel in your home town! Each requires the patient has a "caregiver" with them, despite the fact that each guest must be over 21. RIDICULOUS, since the average survivor needing the service is already an adult -- so why the need for a "babysitter"? Gimme a break! This agency is deplorable, insensitive, undignified and needs a LOT of investigation and re-vamping of their quality care standards! They are MISLEADING & its no wonder the agency itself is in DECLINE. SURVIVORS DESERVE SO MUCH BETTER THAN AN AGENCY MANNED BY PEOPLE THAT COULDN'T CARE LESS!!!

5 years ago

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Thomas Hullinger Pleasant Grove, UT

The American Cancer Society has been doing great work for a long time. I appreciate their efforts on my behalf as I have had family members who have died from cancer and I know they are working hard to find cures.

5 years ago

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Amanda Nacogdoches, TX

They lie in their commercials. Even when you go to their website for help, all they have are articles to read. They actually told me that if I had a different type of cancer than colorectal, that they would have more help for me. They only give rides to and from treatment if you live in certain areas and it all depends on who in their organization that you know. The lodging is a joke as well. They are only interested in offering free lodging if you're well off financially, so that you'll donate to them later. They also don't help with free or discounted wigs. They direct you to TLC which is a wig company that they own. This company is a joke. All of the donations go to pay their salaries and to put out ads to get more money. I'm suffering from cancer, I'm poor. Your donations to help people like me are paying for the CEO's Christmas this year.

4 years ago

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Tom Pleasant Grove, UT

I want to get rid of Cancer any way that we can. It has affected me personally and The American Cancer Society is leading the charge and I love them for it.

5 years ago

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Donated vehicle to the American Cancer society.. American Cancer society has nothing to do with donations they pawn it off on a third party.. which is shady in itself. Told the whole process would take two weeks. Took an entire week for the tow company to come out and pick the vehicle up.. American remarketing services lost the title three separate times.. It took them another two months to take it to auction.. Then they sold a 3,500 $ daily driver for 300 bucks.. so they say.. I say don't do it.

1 year ago

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Rita Depastina Vista, CA

Requested a ride to a cancer appt three weeks ago. Still no response although I call every day. They DO NOT provide adequate assurances to get to cancer appointments. American cancer society does NOT help cancer patients. I had to cancel my medical appt because after three weeks of waiting for a ride confirmation, I got none. They should desolve themself.

2 years ago

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Seedyboom Miami, FL

The initiative of this organization has such a beautiful and useful purpose behind it. I respect this organization a lot!

3 years ago

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Michael Barnell New York, NY

If you read their financials you will see that they make around 850 million each year and of that they only spend 145 million on cancer research & even there much of that is on prevention & detection. The CEO and other top managers are making over 1 million dollars each and the rest is for prevention information. A charity like this SHOULD BE SHUT DOWN!! But people don't look into the facts and just keep giving to these rich, greedy executives. Disgusting!!!!

4 years ago

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Allen Coalgate, OK

I was diagnosed with lung cancer and lost my right lung. I spent a month and a half in the hospital and scared to death. I needed someone to talk to. Each time I tried to contact the ACS, all I got was suggestions to try your state organizations and a hard press on making a donation. Not only did I get hit up for donations then, that's all I get from ACS. EVERY DAY! Phone calls, spam all wanting donations. Well screw you. I'm scared and I just needed help and all you want it cash. What is wrong with you people?

5 years ago

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Roni Stockton, CA

When patients need rides, wigs, housing, or any form of support; ACS is not available. This is a great money making machine with no help for patients. They advertise locks of love, and giving to patients for hospital stays, rides for treatments. All money goes to fund raising and salaries.

5 years ago

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Alicia Holman Gilbert, AZ

This charity has way too much overhead and isn't transparent enough. I know it's a business, but more of the money needs to directly to either finding a cure or benefiting cancer victims. Either that or they need to explain why they spend so much money on items not related to either one of these items.

5 years ago Edited September 14, 2021

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Maryann New Milford, CT

They don’t help you have to be in treatment they tell you. I have stage 4 breast and liver cancer I need help with finances and other things I take Ibrance and they said that’s not treatment . Find a cure. There is one but cancer makes money so why cure it just let people die and collect money

6 years ago

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Amanda Warrendale, PA

American Cancer Society does great things to fundraise like Relay for Life and different walks. It's a good organization that cares.

4 years ago

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Dorothy Mayo Storm Lake, IA

They advertise all this help that they can give you yet i could not even get a ride from them for my chemo. They had no other services to offer me.

4 years ago