Where does your $1 to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Go?
If you’ve participated in any of the thousands of fund-raising activities for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital or shopped at CVS, Target, Pottery Barn, Williams Sonoma, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Brooks Brothers, GNC, Claire’s, or Kmart, then you’ve probably been asked at the cash register to make a donation to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. More than likely, you’ve said yes, as evidenced by the $976 million (nearly $1 billion) collected by the ALSAC (American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities) – the fundraising organization for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital – for the year ending June 30, 2013.
You may have been told that 100% of your donation goes to the hospital or patients (I was told this) but that does not appear to be accurate because ALSAC does not give the total donation to the hospital (based on their income tax filing). Of the $976 million collected by ALSAC, $488 million (50%) went to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital while $278 million (29%) went to functional fundraising expenses (which include salaries, wages, benefits, mailings, campaign expenses, travel, and more including $3.3 million to 8 key employees for program services, management, and fundraising). The remaining $210 million (21%) went into their fund balance, which had $2.8 billion at year-end (most of which is in cash and securities).
In other words, for every $1 received, 50 cents went to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital while 29 cents went to pay ALSAC’s functional expenses and 21 cents was added to their fund balance.
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital received a total of $695 million for the year ending June 30, 2013. $488 million (70%) came from ALSAC along with $104 million (15%) from patients, $84 million (12%) from government grants and contributions, $10 million (1.5%) from other contributions, gifts, and grants, and $10 million (1.5%) from other sources, such as patents, licensing, cafeteria, vending machines, etc.
Functional expenses for the hospital were $654 million, most of which – $374 million (57%) – were salaries and management compensation-related expenses (note: $7.8 million was paid to 11 key highly compensated employees which equates to about $700 thousand each). Also reported: $93 million (14%) in other expenses (no detail provided on the tax return), $65 million (10%) on laboratory and pharmaceutical supplies, $21 million (3%) on occupancy, $10 million (1.5%) on IT, $10 million (1.5%) on travel, $5 million (1%) on legal, and more.
In other words, the hospital used that 50 cents as follows: about 28 cents for salaries and compensation-related expenses, 7 cents on other expenses, 5 cents on laboratory and pharmaceutical supplies, and 10 cents on all other expenses (occupancy, IT, travel, legal, accounting, interest, office, telephone, etc).
-$0.29: Functional expenses at ALSAC
-$0.21: Added to fund balance at ALSAC
$0.50: Given to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
-$0.28: Salaries and compensation-related expenses
-$0.07: Other expenses
-$0.05: Laboratory and Pharmaceutical supplies
-$0.10: Occupancy, IT, travel, legal, accounting, interest, office, telephone, etc
Given that St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is a “research, treatment and educational center,” high salary expenses are to be expected because the primary services are labor intensive. Of course, there are pharmaceuticals, lab and surgical supplies but these expenses pale in comparison to the human labor cost. Smart, talented, and hard-working employees need to be well compensated or they will go elsewhere.
Most people don’t have a problem making a contribution to pay these expenses but they may take issue with having their charitable dollars pay some of the management and functional fees (see Part IX: Statement of Functional Expenses on Form 990) – especially those of the fundraising arm, ALSAC.
When functional expenses of a fundraising arm account for 29% of donated dollars, you have to ask how efficient the fundraising really is? The counter argument is that they spent 29 cents and got back $1, netting 71 cents (giving 50 cents to the hospital), although the question of whether they could have spent less to get the same dollars (and thereby contributing more to the hospital) also needs to be asked. But the bigger question is:
Why did ALSAC add $210 million to their fund balance and why keep $2.8 billion in a fund balance instead of giving more to the hospital to assist more children and families?
The website for the hospital says they have to keep 1.5 years of operating expenses (in case donations stop coming in) which equates to less than $1 billion. That leaves $1.8 billion that could go to treat more children.
There is also the issue of what many cashiers soliciting donations at the cash register of numerous retailers tell inquisitive customers: that their total contribution is going to the hospital. The tax returns tell a different story. But, this is not to say the hospital does not do great work – they do but as a donor, I want more than 50% of my contribution to go to the hospital and, although I don’t like being solicited at grocery or retail stores, I want to be told the truth if I ask where a donation goes.
All of the above figures were obtained from the IRS Form 990 filed by both entities: ALSAC and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Inc. To access and review this information click on the links below:
Form 990 ALSAC for the year ending June 30, 2013
Form 990 St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, Inc. for the year ending June 30, 2013
To read about Executive Salaries at St Jude’s (2017), click here.
To read about Executive Compensation at St Jude’s (2018), click here.
To read updated financial trends (Top Ten Financial Tips to Know About St. Jude’s), click here.
To read an updated Where Does $100 to St. Jude’s Go, click here.
To read an updated Where Does $100 to St. Jude’s Go (2018), click here.
To read an update, click on: Where Does $100 to St Jude’s Go (2019)?
To read an update, click on: Where Does $100 to St Jude’s Go (2020)?
Comments are closed.
Whether or not hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on helping sick children and their families is NOT nitpicking. Raise the bar, yours is too low.
Either way, no family pays. Stop nitpicking.
I’m in tears just reading all this and the commercials are bad enough, THE BEST THING TO DO IS, GO TO YOUR NEAREST CANCER CENTER PERSONALLY. Find out from them how you can help a family with a Child that has Cancer. Or JUST PICK SOMEONE OUT and give them a blessing, show them kindness and compassion and hand it to them personally. 100%
In a card or a small envelope….skip the middle, middle, middle man.
The comment above by jay:
The Fund’s returns are suspect.
Returns on investments since 2012 have gone thru the roof.
Amazon stock from $300 to $2000. Google & other the same.
The return on these investment, do they appear on the financial statements.
I agree there is a psychology in giving – one that marketers often take advantage of (it’s no different in any industry).
As for valuing a non-profit’s freedom, there is no room in this industry for allowing any non-profit that relies on government and public funds to go unchecked. It’s not about controlling our donation but instead transparency and accountability.
I don’t agree that a CEO is getting paid often absurd amounts because he/she wouldn’t be motivated or do as good a job (there are plenty of CEO’s who have been and are generously compensated while a non-profit does not prosper..see March of Dimes, and numerous other non-profits written about on this site). I think the answer is much deeper with the widespread practices of what goes on in the non-profit industry. And, if their intentions were truly altruistic, the non-profit would be more transparent and provide the truth to donors on their websites and in other communications. As for the majority of executives and what they do with their salaries: your claim that they may be philanthropists and may very well re-donate back into the organization is highly doubtful (that one was quite a reach but nice try).
The criticisms are not just directed at salaries but also transparency and how donor dollars are spent. For example, there is no reason an employee of a non-profit should be flying business or first class, have social club or initiation fees paid for, etc.
But, getting back to the point of how donor dollars are spent…the detail has to be looked at because, as you pointed out, it depends on how the non-profit classifies expenses. I don’t know anyone who would dispute the small expenses (you refer to as video games, candy, movies for a child…), it’s the overall picture of where money is spent and in looking at ALSAC and St. Jude’s, there is a lot of room for improvement.
The point of the post is to educate donors. There are plenty of people (see the previous comments) who don’t care and in fact, have gotten very defensive about the truth being put out there. At the end of the day, ALSAC and St. Jude’s submitted those numbers to the IRS and the public has a right to know this information. It’s up to the public to decide if they want to support the organization knowing where their donations go. For me, less than half of my donation to a children’s hospital is not good enough (I challenge ALSAC and St. Jude’s to justify why they need more than $4 billion in net fund assets instead of helping more kids and their families).
The psychology of giving, I think people also want to feel good about themselves being generous. Some don’t care, or want to spend the time investigating, or even justify the expense distribution. “The CEO is getting paid that amount because otherwise, they wouldn’t be motivated or would do as good a job. (as if a lower or more charitable salary like $65,000 would somehow incapacitate an executive’s education and experience or charitable desires) They’re getting paid that much because it’s a comparable rate. Of course they have to spend your money on telephone and travel/transportation expenses.” some would argue.
Or executives earn, but aren’t transparent on how they spend their salaries. A majority could be philanthropists and very well re-donated back into the organization or none at all. Do we value their freedom or do we want to control our donation.
Even if money were given directly to the family, what if some of that were spent on video games, candy, or movies for the child, or paid for the parent’s meals and gas money? It just depends on who cares and how comfortable are we with that.
Point well taken. However, it can be argued that almost any expense can “go to support the treatment, research, and future needs of St. Jude” which is why it is so important to look at the specific expense categories and not just how ALSAC and St. Jude categorize expenses.
Your comments were based on the audited financial statements whereas my post addresses the financial information reported on the tax returns submitted to the IRS by ALSAC and St. Jude’s, with your comments based on large broad categories whereas mine on more specific expense categories and how the revenue flows from ALSAC to St. Jude’s.
The information on the tax return does not support the claims on the website. If you look at the Form 990’s, it is specific in that approximately 50 cents of every dollar given to ALSAC went to the hospital (although last year it was 44 cents). ALSAC spent 29 cents on fundraising and put 21 cents in their fund balance. Of course, you can argue that these allocations go towards helping the kids (yes, fundraising does but do they have to spend 29 cents for every dollar collected? And, yes, some of the net fund assets will be used for capital projects but after accumulating several billion in net fund assets, how much more is enough? $2 billion? 3 billion? I can’t help but think that instead of putting another $250 million in the net fund assets, 250 kids and their families could be helped.
From St. Jude’s website: “For the past seven years, 82 cents of every dollar received has gone to support the treatment, research and future needs of St. Jude.”
It all depends on what numbers and categories you want to use to calculate and interpret your figures and meanings. https://www.stjude.org/content/dam/en_US/shared/www/about-st-jude/financial-information/fy18-combined-audited-financial-statements.pdf page 6 of 26
Combined statements – ALSAC, St. Jude 2017 and 2018
“Contributions” – $1,177,028,581
“Bequests” – $267,036,082
“Special events –net” – $20,324,877
Expense: (Program services)
“Patient care services” – $457,825,537
“Research” – $410,716,516
“Education, Training, and Community services” – $153,764,029
Total program services – $1,022,306,082
(Program Services = salaries and benefits, professional fees and contract services, supplies, telephone, occupance, travel and meetings, miscellaneous)
Based on these figures, I can say factually but selectively, the combined general “contribution”, to round up, 74% or 74 cents out of a dollar, was spent on “patient care services” and “research” to ALSAC+St. Jude for 2017 and 2018. (Education, Training, and Community Services excluded) If I include support from “bequests” and “special events” the percentage lowers to 59%.
I think when most people give, they want to feel like their money instantly translates into getting those kids free from cancer at no expense. While donations do go towards that, it’s an indirect action. You’re really directly funding “program services” to the workers and non-profit organization whose mission is to treat and cure these pediatric patients. Some of that money is no doubt also put to work to produce investment “revenue”. It’s like the interpretation of “non-profit”. It’s not like non-profits don’t profit, or their ceos don’t get paid obscene six figure ($772,284) salaries, it’s about their mission. Not as persuasive or pathos-inducing as marketing “cure kids with cancer at no charge”, but for those that want to put some sober awareness into that nuanced reality…
Please contact them directly to stop mail contact.
Please stop sending me mail.
Katie…thank you. Whatever you can do to get more funds to help the sick children and their families would be an improvement! Please update me.
Anne, I think I am learning more from your answers to commentary than from the article itself! 🙂 I think this is a great article- as you may know the Warrior Dash race which is partnered with St. Jude is a pretty huge event and we support it every year. I didn’t get to sift through the entire chain of comments but am reaching out the staff at Warrior Dash to see if the money actually gets funneled through ALSAC. I will update with what I find if they respond…
I give hundreds each year and Iam sadden to find out these facts it all at least 80% go to the children my heart aches please send me info on 990 formelizabeth _
Hi Mark: Thanks for your response. I don’t know of any way to bypass ALSAC but you may want to contact them and see if that’s a possibility (as I said in the post: St. Jude’s does good things but they could do so much better). I am always amazed that people are not holding them more accountable to give more to help sick kids and their families, even when you tell them the truth of what the non-profit reported to the IRS. Unfortunately, so many non-profits take advantage of hard working people who have generous hearts and don’t realize they are supporting an organization that is paying high salaries, generous retirement packages, first or business class travel, travel for companions, social clubs, etc.
Another option is to give to a local charity that helps sick children and their families. There are many small local non-profits who watch every penny they spend, don’t pay high salaries, don’t fly first or business class, pay for social club fees, or pay professional fundraisers a large portion of the donations. The key is to read the Form 990 (if you ever want me to look at and summarize a 990 from a local charity, let me know).
First, thanks for your time and all the in-depth info, like so many others I’ve struggled with the question of making charitable donations. They all ARE doing life saving work, but at what cost? I’ve yet to find a charity at a national, or even local level, that I feel deserves my hard earned money. But you have suggested something I hadn’t considered. Do you know for certain if a donation can be made directly to St. Jude’s, -bypassing ALSAC? If so, why doesn’t St. Jude’s expand this option to the public and make it more known & readily available? -I have a feeling it is because they don’t want to negatively affect their executives at the money making machine, (re. ALSAC)! I would love to be able to make a monthly donation by bank draft directly to St. Jude’s, but I’m lazy, (and forgetful), and I won’t remember to sit down and write a check every month, specifying it be used directly by St. Jude’s, -and I demand a better return on my dollar than their current system offers.
To all the people arguing with you- would they please explain to me why a person making $40000.00 a year doing manual labor should help support someone making over $900,000.00?! If they were doing this out of the “goodness of their heart”, they wouldn’t be accepting that big salary, let alone flying first class, etc!
Unfortunately, in my state you can open a “charitable donation center”, sell the donations taken in,(clothing, furniture, etc.), -donate less than 15% to a charity and keep the rest! I know a lady who makes over $200,000.00 a year doing this. It’s sad, but this is what we settle for in our society today.
Keep up the good fight and I look forward to your answer to my questions.
Thank you for the information.
Yes, Eric it all costs money. We know that St. Jude’s does good things (they really do). We simply believe that St. Jude’s can do so much better by using more money to help sick children. If you really want to help more children, then you would stand up and demand that more money go to help sick children and their families instead of saying “…at least I know 60 is going to help a cause…” If 60 was really going to help a cause, that would be an improvement. Raise the bar,Eric. It’s for the kids.
When Danny Thomas started one of the best charities that I know of, he did not care about his legacy of helping the thousands he has. Not did he help the sick he realized the pain the non sick family members we’re going through.For an organization to raise this amount of money “which money was not his reason” the reality is it all cost money.
This organization is a class act, and the person who complains, I pray you never have to experience the cause St Jude’s Stands up for Those who believe and work. Understand I am 45 and have no kids. If I donate 100 dollars at least I know60 is going to help a cause. My Grandpa was a believer and soIs my wife and I. Go St Jude’s
They should not claim that.every dollar goes to research they should say that every.dollar after all expenses.are paid and.point to the fact salaries are included. Liz
The best way to give is to give locally I give to my church what little I can and I volunteer my time almost all local charity’s and food banks shelters and programs are staffed by volunteers not by employees making rediculous salaries these big charities have become employment programs the ceo of st Jude’s makes 900 plus thousand a year this is abhorrent give locally and get involved
Freemasonry, not good
My husband and I have each been giving $19 a month to St. Jude for years. After reading the breakdown of monies collected and how it is used (50% going to Alsac and the labs get next to nothing) I am ending my contribution today.
The greed is appalling! And don’t say ”she doesn’t understand!” God forgive you .
Sandra: Thank you for your comments…much appreciated.
Anne, thank you for your research regarding St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and ALSAC. This morning I opened yet another envelope with return address labels. Frankly, we could wallpaper our family room with all the address labels we have received from St. Jude Children’s Hospital and other charities. We decided instead of writing another check, to invest the monies in our family which includes seven grandchildren currently in college. Thank you Anne for standing up and informing the public of what the IRS has made available for all to see. And before anyone asks, no we do not know Anne. Be kind, forgive and pay forward.
The IRS Form 990 requires for them to report if their staff flies first class or charter travel. They don’t have to provide a justification but they can clarify information, which many organizations will do. They also have to report housing allowances, social or health club fees, personal services (maid, chauffeur, etc), etc. Here is a link to guide you through a 990:
I don’t have their tax return in front of me at this moment but if you want to check, look at Schedule J, Part 1, Section 1a…and look at several years of tax returns so you can see if they pay these fees regularly (year after year).
Hi Anne — very informative info you post — I’m just getting ‘educated’ by them — here’s a nit question — do their execs fly first class, how do you know that, and what is their justification? I would love to fly first class but can’t afford to!
I am amazed at how ignorant and uneducated we are as a nation when it comes to understanding how our cultural and political institutions work. Much of the problem is a lack of factual information being disseminated to the public. Most of these institutions tend to scratch each others backs to prevent public outrage.
All our non-profits are a creation of a very bad taxing system run by bureaucrats. They are mostly run for the benefit of those who control them. They do some good work but very inefficiently. They also do some bad work, enabling their clients bad behaviour.
There is not many ways to be charitable except family helping family and friends helping friends.
While we have free press and speech, there is nothing to guarantee its accuracy. The lawyers on the supreme court gave the media an exemption from libel and slander laws ending any responsibility for informing the public.
Sad but I feel I’ve been taken.be more up front with us
1. I never said the money that goes into the fund doesn’t benefit the children when it is used to build new facilities and expand services (my point being that they don’t need to save that much and could instead help more children now). Read the first sentence on my previous response. In fact, historically I have always said that St. Jude’s does good things BUT they could do so much better.
2. The post is about finances and the numbers St. Jude’s and ALSAC submit to the IRS. The whole point of the post originated when I was told that 100% of my donation goes to the hospital which is simply not true (the tax returns verify this claim is false). Your comments lead me to believe you have a problem with the truth or the public knowing the truth, and that is very sad.
3. The number of times a person visits a hospital or meets with parents or children has nothing to do with what St. Jude’s and ALSAC submit to the IRS. You keep trying to discount the financial information by talking about your own personal experience. Again, St. Jude’s does good things but they could do so much better. What I fail to understand is why you and many others think they get a pass because they do good things. It’s not a good or bad but rather a “they could do so much better” if held accountable. I am appalled that they put $250 million in their net fund balance when this post was written, when there was already about $3 billion, and more importantly, when that $250 million could have helped so many more children and their families.
4. My comment was not a complement. I firmly believe the public needs to hold St. Jude’s and ALSAC more accountable and that more money should be spent on helping more children and their families.
5. I am flattered that you think I am making a name for myself but what I’m doing is a public service (I pay for the site, I don’t accept advertising). I was told false information at a Brooks Brothers store several years ago and decided to read the IRS Form 990’s and then to let the public know what St. Jude’s and ALSAC report to the IRS. This is public information and the public has a right to know how revenue is spent. Not everyone is willing or able to read a 100 page tax return so my goal was to write an easy to understand post so that someone understands how a $1 donation is spent.
6. You may very well be working to save children but you are also enabling St. Jude’s and ALSAC to spend only 43 cents of every $1 on helping sick children and their families, by not demanding they spend more dollars to help them now. If you look back over 5 years of tax returns, you will see that ALSAC consistently gave only 50 cents of every dollar to the hospital (the point being they could have given more to treat more kids instead of continuing to increase their net fund balance). Again, this is ok but if you set your bar higher, then more sick children could be helped now instead of the net fund balance increasing annually. I agree with your point that the net fund balance will help the sick children and families in the future but the question becomes: how much is enough? The parent of a sick child will probably say they would prefer their child be treated now then have millions and millions put into a net fund balance that already has billions in it.
7. Using a tax return is not partial information. The tax returns appear complete to me.
8. If I “hurt” St. Jude’s by making more donors demand that their donation dollars help more kids, then that’s a good thing.
9. It’s unfortunate that you seem to classify things as “good” or “bad” (i.e. St. Jude’s is all good) or “helping or hurting” (i.e. what you’re doing is helping and me reporting the financial information is hurting them). Just because a charitable organization does good things does not mean they do everything right. St. Jude’s and ALSAC do good things but they could do so much better (i.e. do their executives really need to fly First Class? I would think that money would be better spent on helping a sick child). You help by raising money for a charitable organization that helps sick kids and their families but you could do so much better by holding the organization more accountable and not saying that people who dare to read and report the financial information to the public, are hurting the organization I view my input as helping the kids because holding St Jude’s and ALSAC accountable should make them spend more helping kids. The world is not black and white.
10. And, lastly, every single donor deserves to know the truth about how their money is spent. That’s called transparency and when an organization relies on public and government donations, you have to respect transparency.
Anne. How do you justify your logic that the money that goes into the fund doesn’t benefit the children when it is used to build new facilities and expand services? Your logic is flawed. By the way, have you visited the hospital? Met with patients and their parents? Met with some doctors and researchers? I’m guessing not as you seem to discount the value of first hand knowledge. As far as your comments that they must like people like me I will take that as a compliment. I’m working to save children with cancer. You appear to be making a name for yourself by using partial information and flawed logic to hurt one of the finest charities ever conceived. I’m helping – you’re hurting. Plain and simple. Now go get on your computer and come up with some mean spirited logic to discount my twenty years of first hand knowledge of the great things St. Jude has done to find cures and save children.
Gary: First of all, St. Jude’s and ALSAC have $4 billion dollars in the net fund balance which is way more than is needed to operate the hospital for a year and a half (assuming all fundraising ceases) and for capital expansion projects.
Second, people are not foolishly criticizing St. Jude’s and AlSAC. On the contrary, they are making educated statements based on information St. Jude’s and ALSAC reported to the IRS.
Third, no one needs you to explain “a little bit” about fundraising because your numbers don’t reflect the information submitted to the IRS. The tax return says it all and your numbers don’t sync with the tax return which shows: for every $150,000 raised by ALSAC, $43,500 went to pay fundraising costs, $31,500 went into the fund balance, and $75,000 went to the hospital. The hospital used $65,500 to help sick children and their families and put $9,500 into the fund balance. What part of this do you not understand?
Fourth, If you’ve been a volunteer raising money for St. Jude for 20 years and have not read a 990 in all those years or can’t tell a donor how their money is spent, then I am astounded. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve visited the hospital or what people you have met with. If you are asking people for money then you should be able to tell them how its spent. If you don’t read the tax returns and financial statements and relay this information accurately to potential donors, then you have NOT educated yourself. How can you even think that meeting with doctors or families trumps knowing the financial information of the organization you’re raising money for?
And, finally, I’m guessing St. Jude’s and ALSAC love people like you who don’t do their homework, won’t accept the truth (after all, St. Jude’s and ALSAC submitted the numbers to the IRS – the numbers used are not my numbers) or don’t care that the hospital is only getting 43 cents of every $1, and that you don’t hold them accountable to help more kids rather than keeping $4 billion in the bank.
There are some perspectives not being considered on this site.
First: St. Jude recently announced a new $412M research facility as part of a $1B expansion to continue their life-saving research. They also announced a $100M initiative to take their life-saving services to the non-developed world where only 20% of children survive cancer. Where do you think that money comes from? Maybe from that fund that ALSAC keeps that so many people on this site are foolishly criticizing?
Second: let me explain a little bit about fund raising. Let’s say I put on an event with ALSAC to raise money. Let’s say we buy food and drinks, rent out a venue, hire a band, etc. Then we sell tickets, solicit sponsors, do a silent auction, etc. At the end of the event we raise $150,000. Our expenses for food, drink, rentals, etc. were $50,000. So we net a $100,000 donation to the charity. Pretty good, right? The charity netted $100,000. Well guess what folks? The charity has to report that only $0.65 out of every $1 for that event went to the charity! The rest for “administration”.
Far too many people love to jump to conclusions by reading a few lines and never really digging deep enough into the charity to fully understand. I’ve been a volunteer raising money for St. Jude for almost twenty years. I have been to the research hospital a dozen times. Met with dozens of ALSAC leadership, the research staff, and, most importantly, the patients and their parents. I give lots of money and lots of time to them and will continue to do so. And I do so on an educated and experienced basis. I say this very sincerely; I truly believe that any money you give to St. Jude is being used wisely and effectively to find cures and treat children at no cost to their families.
Saribeth: Then, by all means go for it if that’s your justification….I just wouldn’t be so proud of donating to an organization that only gives the the hospital 50 cents of every dollar, AND an organization that thinks its more important to have $4 billion in the bank than to help save more children. Contrary to your statement, there are children turned away for a variety of reasons.
As far as writing about the truth (after all, the information comes from St. Jude’s and was submitted to the IRS), if you don’t want to know or accept the information as the truth (which it is), and want to keep your head in the sand, that’s your choice. There are many of us out there who believe St. Jude’s and ALSAC don’t get a pass just because they do good things – BECAUSE THEY COULD DO SO MUCH BETTER. Shame on you for not standing up and demanding they help more children with donation dollars.
And, finally your justification that St. Jude’s doesn’t give money to terrorist organizations or Syria or countries in the Middle East has absolutely nothing to do with how they spend donation dollars – and is not a criteria most people use to donate to a hospital or fundraising organization that helps sick children and their families. There are a lot of things they don’t do and there are a lot of things they should do. The whole point of the post is to report to the public how St. Jude’s spends donation dollars.
ALSAC’s “sole mission is to raise the funds and awareness necessary to operate and maintain St. Jude”. They do not support terrorist organizations, nor do they send money to Syria or other Middle Eastern countries. I have supported St. Jude for years and will continue to do so because no child is turned away, and no family ever receives a bill for travel, housing, treatment, or food. As far as I am concerned, that in itself is enough to justify my donations.
I donated $5 to this charity….are you telling me only $2.50 went to the actual hospital?!? Two dollars and fiddy cents?!?!
Desiree: Which is precisely why more donation revenue should go to help more sick children!
Did we find a cure yet
Great article. All information obtained “from the horses mouth.“ That’s the only way to do it. I stumbled on this article because I want to give but HATE getting scammed. Concluding that televangelists are scammers is pretty much self evident. But when you see the commercials, laced with images of suffering children, how could one not want to help? This is where a little bit of research goes a long way. Thanks for putting the time into it and trying to get the word out there. I hope that people who want to give to Saint Jude go the “direct“ route. As for me, I’m going to give directly to my local children’s hospital, hopefully with at least a modicum of specific instructions .
Al Francis: Thank you for the suggestion.
Anne, wikipedia tells a different story. Still not good, but better than the numbers you provide. You should try and post corrections/updates to wikipedia due to the large amount of traffic they receive and thus have more people see this important information.
Its a elephant hiding in plain sight… let me show it to you…
I think its to me… its a money laundering scam with donors hard earned Dollars. They have only 78 beds in hospital, rest are outpatient only. It means come in, take meds & go home! 2.7mil a day expense? No wonder they advt a lot on TV & all other media to lure kind hearted ppl. All this by…(ALSAC) American Lebanese & Syrian associated charities? Where’s that 2.8 billion? In Lebanon or Syria ? To use it for what?
Thank you, Don Webster.
I am glad you post this. As over years I heard so many bad story concerning giving money to different companies. I am going keep my money and help my family and friends.
Thank you for approving my comment. We were shocked by some incredibly vicious and threatening trolling on behalf of St. Jude, so we hired a psychologist to independently analyse the behaviour of ALSAC/St. Jude’s committed donors. He also analysed ALSAC’s donor solicitation, conversion and stewardship tactics used on St. Jude donors, as well ALSAC’s treatment of employees. ALSAC/St. Jude meets the clinical definition of a cult, which may help explain the behaviour you see; their self-image has been crafted heavily by ALSAC and your analysis threatens their identity with logic and data. The clash elicits quite irrational responses. Thank you very much for your good work on this crucial subject – please keep it up.
Thank you for your comments and additional information. That people/donors/potential donors don’t accept the numbers submitted by St. Jude’s and ALSAC to the IRS always surprises me.
Anne is 100% correct, yet the tenor of a majority of comments is to attack Anne and her analysis. St. Jude does very good work, but so do many other charities; their good works do not exempt them from facts. There are quite a few of us now digging up info on ALSAC / St. Jude, and many have had the opportunity to speak confidentially with ALSAC employees. We have found that the truth is worse than the 990’s tell us. The 990’s are “rigged in ALSAC / St. Jude’s favor” :
1) ALSAC gets free advertising for “St. Jude” through PSAs (Public Service Announcements).
2) ALSAC writes off roughly half of their direct mail spending through putting dense, obtuse information about pediatric cancer on the back of a direct mail piece, so they can charge roughly half of their direct mail solicitation costs to “Program Service” as “Raising Awareness”.
3) ALSAC routinely writes entirely false comments about working at ALSAC or St. Jude and posts them on job websites, such as Indeed or Glassdoor. Many of my contacts have found these entirely false comments attributed to them!
4) ALSAC responds to every negative comment because they have a 24/7/365 team assigned to social media and web. No doubt there are some here as well. There are plenty of ALSAC “Hit Teams” and “St. Jude Drone” teams about — one of my friends innocently tried to correct a social media post and was vastly abused even though he was correct in his statements.
5) ALSAC in particular abuses their employees in unbelievable ways. Fundraising $/employee went from $436K in FY10 to $744K in FY16, as more and more is pressured from the employees. This is a book in itself.
6) There is only 1 Fund & it is managed by ALSAC. ALSAC has the Chief Investment Officer & his staff to manage it. All of this “beneficial interest” business is simply smoke and mirrors. The Fund is a vast worry at ALSAC — how to hide it.
7) There is recently a new racket to ‘plus up’ the fund and make things look good. ALSAC “Over-Donated” to St. Jude, then St. Jude hits the insurance companies, and ends up with a big surplus at the end of the year. That surplus goes to the Fund. But…and this is the important part.. this racket makes ALSAC & St. Jude’s ratios look good for the BBB, so they don’t lose their BBB approval. It also hides the amount of money they really have. (See FY16 for this new innovation to the tune of $200 M).
8) The “Fund” is about $4.0 billion now, and they do not spend it to keep up the hospital in the event of a donations sag. In FY10, ALSAC was going to fall some $40 M short of fundraising goal, so they laid off 69 employees at an annual cost of about $7.0 million, instead of taking money from the fund. They still made a $93.5 million dollar contribution to the Fund in FY10! The Fund is like the roach motel – money goes in, and it never comes out!
9) The Fund’s returns are suspect. They have consistently under-performed the average return of endowments for the years FY10 through FY15.. Look at the endowment returns that are “missing” — in not coming anywhere near the average endowment — it runs about $50 million per year. Where that money is going is anyone’s guess, as no fund manager could vastly under-perform the endowment average for 6 years running and keep his job!
10) We’ve done extensive analysis of ALSAC / St. Jude, from 990’s, Audited Financials, interviews with employees, and more – these are just some of the tidbits.
There is an interesting website, apparently still in development, detailing the financials (at least so far) It has through FYE10-FYE16 on it: http://www.truthtopower.re/alsac1/Index.htm
In short, Anne has been more than gracious attending to commentary. When I read it, I see real donors, the “Hit Teams” & the “St. Jude Drones”. The ALSAC ./ St. Jude behaviour are issues that have been heating up for some time. I’m sure many of you will not like what Anne and I are telling you, but it is fact nonetheless.
How much ALSAC and St. Jude’s spends on ads is a good question. The 990 does not provide that level of detail although ALSAC (the fundraising arm) does list $67 million in “campaign expenses,” $12 million in “other expenses,” and $17 million in “all other expenses” – but it is not clear if ad costs are under these categories. St. Jude’s does list $1.2 million in advertising and promotion but, again the type of advertising and promotion is not listed.
I highly doubt they get free air time since they are a very wealthy organization. I have not ever heard of any network providing free advertising for an entity that has $4 billion in net fund assets.
Finally, I will say they run those ads because they work..they wouldn’t run them if they didn’t. Despite the tax returns indicating that only 50 cents of every dollar raised by ALSAC goes to the hospital, revenue continues to increase so people either don’t care or don’t realize this despite the fact that the IRS Form 990’s are publicly available for review.
Very useful, your research and thanks. We always write a check to St Jude every year and we rarely give at the grocery checkout. Recently I’ve been bothered that St Jude runs SO many ads on TV, I mean just carpet bombing of viewers. At some point you would imagine that all those folks who want to give have seen one or more ads and are giving — they don’t need to be hit over the head relentlessly. That’s how I feel anyway and it does bother me. What I DO NOT know and would like to know is how much St Jude has to spend on ads. Do they get primarily free air time or do they pay? If they pay, they should consider that more ads don’t necessarily translate to more donations.
Hi MJ Travis:
I simply summarized the information they provided to the IRS.
Please feel free to contact St. Jude’s and ask the questions you are interested in getting answers to.
I’m sure they will tell you they need enough money to run the hospital for 1.5 years (if donations ceased completely) – they have enough to run it for years at their current spending level. They actually now have $4 billion.
I read all comments and thank everyone for their input. I end up here because I too received mailing lables from St Jude Children’s Research Hospital. I too am very much concerned primarily with $3B not being used. My question to Anne Paddock is – Since you have done such a marvelous job to do all research and advise us, would you mind to write to St Jude and ALSAC why they not using all or majority of $3B for St Jude Primary mission of Research and Children care? Will you please. Let us know what they say. You never know they may listen to our concern and use these billions and more lives can be saved and make our dollar work as 0.75 cents rather than just 0.50
Sounds like the cashier that told me my whole donation goes to the kids. The tax returns don’t support those statements!
I just had my name removed from the St Jude list… because I have been receiving requests EXTREMELY FREQUENTLY (every week or two)… and the young lady on the phone told me incorrectly that there was no cost/expense for fundraising, that ALSAC did it free!!!
Hi Luis…I believe you can make a restricted donation (which specifies where the donation has to be spent) but you would have to call and ask.
Can one contribute directly to the Hospital and is there a way to tell how they are spending the money? We contribute yearly but will no longer do that since half of our money is going to that organization that has nothing to do with the children.
I did not know about that article nor have I read it but it seems The Memphis Commercial was ahead of its time! The 30% they write about is now 29% and these funds are spent supporting the ALSAC organization (the fundraising costs). 21 cents of every dollar goes into the reserve which has more than $3.5 billion, which leaves 50 cents of every dollar for St. Jude’s. The hospital does in fact do good work but they could do so much better by spending more money on helping more sick kids and their families.
Over twenty years ago The Memphis Commercial had a five or six page spread on St. Jude. It stated that ALSAC took 30% off the top of every dollar that was donated to St. Jude. At that time, I do not remember anything about a “reserve”. However, the article stated that, of the 30% for ALSAC, money was sent to various organizations in the Mideast. That’s when I decided to NEVER donate another cent to St. Jude even though I believe that the hospital does great work.
I am no longer donating to St Jude children’s research hospital. I’m disappointed that most of my donation
Is not going to the research hospital. I understand it’s less than 50 percent. Sad.
I think it depends if your donation can be restricted to a specific allocation. You would have to call them and ask.
Would it not be better to send one’s contributions directly to the Hospital instead of through ALSAC? Would the contributions be best used by the Hospital this way? Thank you.
I don’t know why there are not more requirements. 501 (c) (3) status is obtained through the IRS. They may think that requiring the non-profit to submit the information is transparent enough and leave it up to the donor to decide if he/she wants to donate to a non-profit based on that information. The problem is that most people don’t have the time to tackle a 50 or 100 page tax return.
Why doesn’t the FCC require St Jude to include a fine print disclaimer about the organization’s fundraising costs in it’s ubequtious TV ads? A little more transparency would benefit everyone, especially with such a high-profile group that consumes much of the donation apple.
By the way Ann, we stopped giving to Sam’s Purse through our church (this was for natural disaster assistance) after learning about the amount of Rev Graham’s compensation package.
Thanks for the info Anne. I will take a look. Have a wonderful day!
Hi Sybil: The best advice I can give is to read the IRS Form 990 that these organizations have to submit to the IRS because the numbers on these forms tell where dollars are spent. As you said, both places are important and they do good work but not enough goes to help the sick children and their families whether those funds go towards treatment and assistance, or research. The IRS Form 990’s indicate at St. Jude’s, 29 cents of every dollar is spent on fundraising, 21 cents is put into “savings” which has more than $3.5 billion, and 50 cents is given to the hospital (where 43 cents is used to help the sick children and families and 7 cents is put into “savings”).
I would like to donate to either st Jude’s or Shriners but now I’m confused. I have heard at Jude’s all goes to children. I was researching about Shriners when I came upon this post. Both places seem very important but I was leaning towards st Jude’s because I know that some rare children’s cancers aren’t researched for a cure because they are so rare. I’m not sure my money would go to research but if it went to feed or house a set of parents while their child is being kept comfortable and having the best his or her last months on this earth that is fine. I want to help someone hurting not help someone get rich. Paying doctors, nurses, staff is fine also we need these places going for these children parents and hope. Any advise on the best place to give?
Anne Paddock… thanks for your information, it got me thinking… When I give, I usually give to charities that have a least 80% to 90% going to the cause…
I give twice every month for years. I just saw a comment/post on here about NOT receiving their Tee-shirt and that made me remember I was told I’d get a tee-shirt for which I’d proudly wear… LOL… I never received one NOW thinking back. It kind of makes what Tim Sanders on Jan 7 2017 said; “If they’re THAT incompetent in managing simple t-shirts, how do think they are at managing children’s healthcare?” and to me MONIES. While this might not be important to others, it DOES raise a RED FLAG to me to think that if something so simple (that I can actually experience) is regarded as a waste of time to St. Jude, what else is a waste of my money.
Today am calling St Jude’s and stopping both my donations… There are other charities i.e. Save the Children etc that can use my money. This time, I’ll check as to how much is going to the cause before giving…
PS: This is not about the tee-shirt, but how they treat donors and where/how the monies are spent after they get you monies…
Allen: If you think this is about answers then you are missing the whole point of the post. I was solicited by a cashier to contribute money to St. Jude’s and was told my total donation goes to the kids. Since I found this hard to believe, I went and read the IRS Form 990 and then wrote a post about what ALSAC and St Jude’s report to the IRS, which is vastly different than what I was told. I am not seeking any answers because the numbers look pretty clear to me: 29 cents of every dollar went to fundraising (no question there); 21 cents went to the reserve (no question there), 50 cents went to the hospital (no question there), 43 cents of the 50 cents went towards hospital expenses (no question there), and 7 cents went to the reserve (no question there). Your e-mails have always been about finding something wrong when in fact, what’s wrong is how much the organization is spending on fundraising and putting into the reserve. What they do right is spend 43 cents BUT they could do so much better. Your most recent response implying that a $100 contribution going to the reserve means that another $100 contribution goes to the hospital is in fact inaccurate (28 cents of every dollar goes to the fund balance). The point of my post is to point out the discrepancy between what donors are told and what ALSAC and St. Jude’s report to the IRS. There is no need for word games…the numbers are what they are and the bottom line (not a question) is that ALSAC and St. Jude’s do good things but they could do so much better. That’s it.
Sorry, I did not realize you had all of the answers and are not to be questioned. I thought you were interested in analyzing the numbers and coming up with answers. My apologies for suggesting any of your reasoning could be flawed or in need of adjustment.
You may want to look at the IRS 990 which shows that only $3 million was added to the endowment last year. The endowment started off with $915 million and ended the year with $873 million. My analysis is based on the IRS Form 990, not a “report” that you reference. The bottom line Allen is this: St. Jude’s spends 29 cents of every dollar on fundraising. They put 21 cents into their fund balance. They give 50 cents to the hospital. The hospital spends 43 cents. They put 7 cents into the fund balance. These numbers are not mine – they are the numbers submitted by ALSAC and St. Jude’s to the IRS. Yes, St. Jude’s needs to have a reserve and we all know what an endowment or reserve is. We also all know that St. Jude’s doesn’t need to have $3.5 billion dollars in their net fund balance (or put $250 million in the fund balance last year) when kids are dying of cancer. So, instead of arguing with me and trying to find a loop hole in my analysis, why don’t you put your analytical efforts into making St. Jude’s and ALSAC better?
If you give $100 donation and I give $100 restricted donation. Your donation is spent on the hospital and mine is held in reserve, When you look at the report for the year, you would conclude 50% of every dollar raised is put into reserve account.
Yes St Jude has high fundraising fees which I do not like. But, it is not as simple as you paint it.
Yes, Allen many charities do have reserve funds…but, that’s not the point. The point is how much of a reserve fund is needed, what St. Jude’s tells donors when they contribute, how much of every dollar is spent on fundraising (29 cents), how much is put into reserves (21 cents), how much is given to the hospital (50 cents) and how much the hospital spends of that 50 cents (43 cents) leaving another 7 cents placed into reserve.
Many charities have reserve funds. At universities they are often called endowment funds. A donor wants their large gift to live forever, so they give a restricted donation that states the charity may spend any earnings from the investment of the donation, but not the donation itself.
Shelly: If you really did your homework, you would have looked at the IRS Form 990 and see that the hospital’s annual operating costs are about $685 million (program and management expenses less depreciation). 1.5 times 685 is about a billion dollars. They have $3 billion in savings. So, tell me again why they shouldn’t have taken the $250 million last year and helped 500 more kids instead of putting more money in a reserve fund?
As a children’s research hospital, St. Jude must be able to provide lifesaving care to patients regardless of economic fluctuations, and this necessitates we maintain a reserve fund. At the core of our mission is our ability to research and treat life-threatening childhood diseases for the patients who come through our doors today as well as the children who will need us in the future. ——The reserve fund consists of restricted funds that we cannot use and are legally required to maintain in perpetuity according to donor stipulations, and unrestricted funds that we could use in times of economic stress to ensure we can meet the hospital’s operating costs for approximately 1.5 years.—- The availability of these funds allowed us to embark on the Pediatric Cancer Genome Project, a collaboration between St. Jude and Washington University in St. Louis. This is one of our most ambitious research efforts to date which began during the heart of the economic downturn because we know that this initiative to sequence the pediatric cancer genome will forever change our understanding, diagnosis and treatment of cancer…… That was a quote from St. Judes. I completely understand people are on a budget and deserve to know where their donation money is being spent. Before I even replied the first time I did do some research. This is a quote I copied and pasted from them staying the “reserve fund” that is the percent everyone wants them to use to help more kids (which I think is a very good idea and I never disagreed on that) it seems that legally they must keep a percentage to be able to be considered to receive donations. Also, some of those are being spent on a project (which they also state). Now, I don’t know by law what percent they must keep or if they fluctuated it because I don’t work on the board but I do understand their need to abide by laws to keep them a “donation” hospital.
I agree with you Anne, more people need to know the truth about how their donations are being spent. Shelly you seem biased and uninformed. Many people who donate are on fixed incomes. They live their lives on a budget but consider donating to better the lives of others. Shelly, Anne’s point is if these people who donate can live on a budget, then maybe a powerhouse such as St Jude’s can do better than taking 29% and saving the surplus. We want more of our donated dollar going directly to patients or research. Maybe they need a better budget…
I am outraged that they spend 29 cents of every dollar on fundraising and put 21 cents into the fund balance leaving only 50 cents of every dollar donated to the hospital and that the hospital only uses 43 cents to help children and families (saving the other 7 cents).
I am outraged that cashiers tell me that 100% of my donation goes to the hospital when this is not the truth.
I am outraged that $250 million was added to the fund balance last year instead of helping 500 more kids and families that are stricken with cancer and don’t have the resources to get the help they need.
I am outraged that people like you think that because an organization does good, they deserve a pass.
I am outraged that you don’t think people should know the truth (because as you said, they may not give).
I am outraged that you think the goodness factor outweighs the honesty factor.
And, finally I am outraged that you have the gall to rant at me for writing about the truth when in fact you should be holding St. Jude’s accountable and questioning why they are not spending more money on helping sick kids and their families.
I hope thousands of people link to my page and ask the questions that need to be asked before donating. 43 cents of every dollar is not enough. It should be twice that.
Contrary to your statement, you are not looking “at the whole big picture in bold color.” The big picture is this: St. Jude’s does good things but they could do better. You want to give them a pass because you think they are doing enough good. I say no, they should do better with donor dollars.
I am well aware I’m not in the club by myself. I was simply implying I know first hand the benefits of places like St. Judes. (As do many other family’s for many different reasons). I am not ignorant to that fact. I understand what you are saying, my head is not” in the sand”. My opinion is that they are a wonderful organization and I hate to see people stop giving donations because they think their money is being unfairly spent. They have an 80% survival rate. These kids that had no chance now do because of people who generously donate no matter how big or small. I look at things in color. If they have money sitting in an account and they have a big break through we as the public know that it will take new machines and new medicine and new doctors so any “extra billions” will enable them to do that. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe I’m not but I know people “follow” That’s why we have trends and if just 10 people linked your page to theirs and 50 people who donated changed their mind because of an article, (maybe not even what you wrote but someone else or just peoples comments) that’s a lot of money lost for the foundation. Your outraged because of how they split the money, it’s understandable but me I’m more concerned with people not donating anymore because they feel it’s a ripoff ( and I don’t think it is). I already see quite a few in the comments above who changed their minds. Again, you are looking at the numbers on a form and I’m looking at the whole big picture in bold color. If you don’t understand where I am coming from as well then I guess we can agree to disagree.
Shelly: Read the IRS Form 990 and take your head out of the sand. They have $3 billion dollars in their net fund balance that could be used to help more children and families. What part of that don’t you get?
The article is not slander, it’s the truth: you must accept that the numbers are the numbers that St. Jude’s submitted to the IRS.
Maybe if you looked at things less as black and white and instead as grey, you will see that St. Jude’s does good things but they could do so much better. And, that is the point of the post that you fail to see. Just because an organization does good things doesn’t mean they get a free pass when it comes to accountability.
You ask what would happen if one year they didn’t get any donations (which is unrealistic because their fundraising efforts are so effective)? They could use the funds in their fund balance and would still have billions in there. More funds should be spent on helping children and their families stricken with cancer. And, by the way, I don’t know any family that hasn’t been struck by cancer. You’re not in the club by yourself.
Me writing these articles will hopefully push people to hold St. Jude’s accountable and answerable to the public who make donations. ALSAC should not be spending 29 cents of every dollar on fundraising, saving 21 cents, and then giving 50 cents of every dollar to St. Jude’s (who only uses 43 cents and saves another 7 cents). If you find the truth offensive, I suggest you take your outrage to St. Jude’s and not to people who expose the truth.
I just keep reading your article and I am just outraged. I have lost family to cancer. I have family living with cancer. I would never wish that on anyone ever. Yet, you writing these articles will make people stop donating and then there would be less research and more children staying sick. That would be absolutely horrible. No one ever should die of cancer and companies like st.jude are getting closer and closer to that with people’s donations. I understand that they have billions in an account. But, what if one year they don’t receive enough money from donations. They would most likely take from that fund. I can see it as a safety net for the company. This is simply my opinion but I have seen first hand people who slander companies (other comments from peopl above) and then need them for them or their families and are grateful they are there and grateful for those that continued to donate.
In your long list of expenses I don’t see where you listed the food they pay for, for the families and the patients. You looked at one form but in fact there are always multiple papers and multiple reasons for why money is dispersed the way it is. I bet if your child was sick and needed treatment at that hospital you would be more than willing to accept their help and people’s donations. The “paperwork of funding distribution” wouldn’t bother you one bit. No family is ever turned away so I don’t understand the comments about “using the money to help more families”. Smh
The IRS Form 990 is what it is. The numbers are what they are. My posts are a public service (I pay for the costs to support the site and don’t take advertising) because the public, supporters and potential donors should know the truth. I have to disagree on your conclusion that “it remains confidential with no leverage” as my site gets a lot of traffic from these posts. That said, my goal is not to lead a crusade against St. Jude’s via communication or a petition but to simply inform the public that St. Jude’s does good things but they could do so much more (i.e. why aren’t they helping more children and families with the $3 billion in their net fund balance? And, why do they continue to put hundreds of millions in their fund balance every year instead of helping more kids?). Feel free to contact St. Jude’s or start a petition but I highly doubt they will answer your questions using the specific numbers they submitted to the IRS on the Form 990.
i will look at the 990 – but you did correct? so the next step if you would want to foment changes would be to ask St Judes for comments! or start a petition on Change.org! – otherwise it remains quite confidential with no leverage – my take only of course.
No and No. I would think it would be very difficult to dispute information they submitted to the IRS. Again, the numbers are not mine but ones they submitted to the IRS. You really should look at the 990’s.
most interesting – did you receive any mail/ notices / corrections/ objections from St Judes? did you sent them your analysis with an opportunity to respond?
You may also be interested in reading about the most recent analysis BASED on the tax returns:
Nothing replaces doing your homework and that includes reading and analyzing the IRS Form 990 of any organization that you are considering donating money to. No matter what their answers are, the bottom line is that if you read St. Jude’s and ALSAC’s IRS Form 990’s (and these are THEIR numbers), it is indisputable that 29 cents of every dollar is used to cover fundraising costs (it’s there in black and white), 21 cents is saved (they now have more than $3 billion in their fund balance), and 50 cents goes to the hospital (again, it’s all there in black and white and indisputable).
Thanks for the quick reply. I did send an email to both and waiting for answers. This year I took the time to investigate my charity giving through Charity Navigator and overall it is not very encouraging. Very few organizations are in fact tracked by them. I would have to change the way I give money and convey the money face-to-face with a local organizations or with an individual i can trust.
“My research” are the tax returns submitted by ALSAC and St. Jude’s to the IRS. It doesn’t get any more real than that. I think the question you should be asking or digging into is how St. Jude’s computes their numbers; and what charity navigator bases their conclusions on.
did you contact St Jude or Charity Navigator ? the latter provide a different read than your research would indicate!
Here is the link to the executive salaries:
Check how much the executive staff of this non-profit company makes before donating! Millions! $$$
Be wary of what an organization says on their site with regards to where the money is spent…best to always read the IRS Form 990. Non-profits place their expenses in three categories: program, management, and fundraising. So, you have to look at the numbers that make up the three categories and see if the organization uses first class or charter travel, pays for club fees, companion travel, etc.
Generally speaking, Food Banks have much lower fundraising and management costs. See the analysis of Palm Beach County Food Bank.
Another one bites the dust!
Goodbye Samaritan’s Purse.
Thanks for the eye opening information Anne. I feel like such a fool.
I will donate to Halifax Urban Ministries, Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida and Our Daily Bread (although I am not pleased with the 15.6% that goes to administrative funding. I would like to see that going to the cause, which is at 81.3% and 3% to fundraising.
Very informative article and I thank you for your prompt response.
A few months ago I made a one-time donation to st. Jude’s. With that donation I included a letter making a statement that this was a one-time donation only. As my income is $1,032 a month and I cannot afford continuation of such donations. I included in the letter my sincerest concerns about no further solicitation. I have been inundated with mail and request for money every sense. I regret giving them money and it’s actions like st. Jude’s that make people leery of doing so. I am ashamed of st. Jude’s and there disregard of the letter that I sent. So I plan on being one of the social media people who brings the story to everyone who can read it.
Thank you. What you have to understand is that the tax returns TELL US: 50 cents of every dollar donated goes towards fundraising (29 cents) and the fund balance (21 cents) at ALSAC. Of the 50 cents that reaches St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 43 cents is spent while 7 cents goes into their savings account.
You may want to look a little closer at Samaritan’s Purse. The IRS Form 990 (2015) for Samaritan’s Purse shows that the organization raised $594 million in 2015 and spent $504 million in 3 areas: grants ($223 million), salaries and benefits ($99 million), and other expenses ($183 million). They retained $88 million (15% of revenue) in their fund balance which had a balance of $386 million at year-end. Why they didn’t use the $88 million to help more people instead of putting in their “savings account” has to be asked. It is also noteworthy to note Samaritan’s Purse paid W Franklin Graham, III $822,145 (chairman, president) in compensation, and that the organization pays for First Class or Charter travel for staff and companions, personal services (maid, chauffeur, chef), and housing allowance for personal use. And, finally it is important to note that there are 8 relatives of Mr. Graham who are on the board and/or receive compensation or benefits from the organization.
I decided to look up St. Jude Children’s Research on Charity Navigator and I was not pleased to find out that when you donate:
73% goes to the cause
10.8% goes to administrative purposes
16.1% goes to fundraising
I understand that these Doctors and Scientist all need to be paid but come on! How about we reduce the fundraising and the administrative and put more towards the cause.
Samaritan’s Purse donates 87.7% to the cause, 4.6% to administrative and 7.5% to fundraising (although that number should also be lower).
How heart breaking.
Thanks Anne for your very informative post. It has made it crystal clear to me.
Next time I will try to check on a charity before I start donating.
I don’t know. If you want to donate (and I say that because the hospital does really good things but they could do so much more by helping more sick children instead of keeping nearly $4 billion, of which only $1 billion is restricted, in their net fund balance), you can request that your funds not be processed through ALSAC and make the check payable to “St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Inc.” and that the funds be restricted to a specific use. But the choice is yours. St. Jude’s (both organizations) won’t change unless their donors call them out on this (and the high fundraising costs…they spend 29 cents of every $1 on the functional expenses at ALSAC, the fundraising arm).
For me, I won’t donate because I don’t want 50 cent of every $1 going to fundraising and into a fund account.
Thank you Anne for the extensive research on ALSAC-St.Jude. I’m still a bit confused about donating to St.Jude Hospital exclusively. Would that money still go through ALSAC for their 50% cut?
Nate: And, the IRS Forms 990 submitted by ALSAC and the hospital to the IRS reveal the following:
For the year ending June 30, 2015, the hospital had $680 million in functional expenses (does not include non-cash charges of depreciation and $4 million in grants to outside organizations which conceivably would not be granted if the hospital did not receive funds in a specific year). Hence 1.5 times $680 million is about $1 billion.
The two organizations – ALSAC and the hospital – had $3.8 billion in the net fund balance as of June 30, 2015 of which $1 billion is restricted, leaving $2.8 billion in net fund assets unrestricted.
Still seems to me they could spend more helping children and families and still cover the operating costs of the hospital for 1.5 years and not touch their restricted assets.
See http://www.charitynavigator.com or the ALSAC and St.Jude’s website to review the 2015 IRS Form 990’s.
This is on St. Jude Website:
As a children’s research hospital, St. Jude must be able to provide lifesaving care to patients regardless of economic fluctuations, and this necessitates we maintain a reserve fund. At the core of our mission is our ability to research and treat life-threatening childhood diseases for the patients who come through our doors today as well as the children who will need us in the future. The reserve fund consists of restricted funds that we cannot use and are legally required to maintain in perpetuity according to donor stipulations, and unrestricted funds that we could use in times of economic stress to ensure we can meet the hospital’s operating costs for approximately 1.5 years.
I think nearly everyone loves what they are doing for children and families. If they would just reduce their fundraising costs at ALSAC and spend the few hundred million they put in their fund balance (that has billions) helping more kids…..
Sad to hear this. Makes me second guess if I’m giving to the right charity. I love what they are doing as an organization but wish more of my money went to the actual research and cure.
As I previously wrote, there is about $4 billion between the two organizations in net fund assets.
We now agree on (1)one $3 billion+ pile of cash held by St Jude’s and its affiliate ALSAC.
I will let you know if St Jude’s answers my inquiry as to its purpose.
Yes, Allen….St. Jude’s has a beneficial interest in the assets of ALSAC …you are correct, but they are not a subsidiary. My point is this: the bottom line is that the two organizations have nearly $4 billion in net fund assets which could be used to help more children and families. They also need to reduce fundraising costs and tell people the truth when asked where donation dollars go.
Anne, #1 read what I wrote. The $3 bil other asset on St Jude’s balance sheet is ALSAC. ALSAC is a subsidiary of St Jude’s.
#2 look at page 121 and you will see that $3 bil of St Jude’s $4 bil in assets is ALSAC.
St Jude’s biggest asset is ALSAC which = $3 bil
ALSAC biggest asset is money which = $3 bil
There is only one stock pile of $3bil cash and investments. Why so much I do not know, but I have sent an email to St Jude’s asking. I agree it seems like way too much. I agree their fundraising expenditures are too high. I am just adjust the level of outrageous stockpile of cash.
Allen: ALSAC is not a subsidiary but it does have an interest in the assets of ALSAC. The net fund balance (total assets less liabilities) of ALSAC were $2.8 billion at FYE 2013, $3.3 billion at FYE 2014, and $3.5 billion at FYE 2015. St Jude’s had a NET fund balance (total assets less liabilities) of $3 billion at FYE 2013, $3.6 billion at FYE 2014, and $3.7 billion at FYE 2015. If you net all of the above out, ALSAC had $2.8 billion while St. Jude’s had $200 million in net fund assets in 2013, $3.3 billion while St. Jude’s had $300 million in net fund assets in 2014, and $3.5 billion while St. Jude’s had $200 million in 2015.
The bottom line: Between both organizations, there is nearly $4 billion in net assets that could be used to help more children and families.
Anne both organizations do not have $3 bil in assets. ALSAC has $3 Bil in cash and investments as you correctly point out. St Jude’s does not. The $3 bil other asset on St Jude’s books is its subsidiary ALSAC. Still a lot of money sitting around but only half as much as you suggest.
Do NOT waste your charity dollars on these scammers. All they want is your money. My company made the mistake of making them our “Charity of Choice”. They promise you a cheap T-Shirt if you give them $100. I earned them 4 times that, and shocker, for my $400 plus, they were all out of cheap t-shirts. If they’re THAT incompetent in managing simple t-shirts, how do think they are at managing children’s healthcare?
The $2.8 billion on the balance sheet of ALSAC (the fundraising arm – not the hospital) is primarily made up of cash and securities totaling $2.7 billion. The remaining $100 million includes $78 million for land, buildings, and equipment, $5 million for prepaid expenses, $1 million for inventory, $1 million for accounts receivable, etc.
Your question: “What is the $2.8 billion fund balance being used or intended for?” by a non-profit whose primary mission is to raise money is an interesting question. Every donor should be asking why more funds are not going to the hospital to help children and families?
Construction and equipment assets will primarily be seen on the balance sheet of St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital – not ALSAC, the fundraising entity.
What is the 2.8 billion dollar fund balance being used or intended for. Is it for construction,equipment, etc.?
Thank you all for making it clear to me on how the money is spent. I do understand that we have to pay for some services that the children are receiving. But 50% is a bit much. We have people whom volunteer and never receive a dime so why does the few that are getting paid gets so much. I will for sure mail my donation in from now on. It is not about getting paid it is about the children and what we can do to help make the parents not have to worry about the cost for treatment.
Just donate directly to the hospital. Make check payable to: St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, 262 Danny Thomas Way, Memphis, TN 38105. Request that your check not be processed through ALSAC or be restricted to research, doctor or nursing staff.
So basically st. Jude’s children research hospital is a money-maker mostly for others besides the children at st. Jude Hospital that’s disgusting they should be shut down
Thank you for reading the post, Marilyn. For years, I, too didn’t realize where my donations were spent but after the cashier told me that 100% of my donation went to the hospital, I decided to do some research and found the truth was something quite different. The sad thing is that it’s not just ALSAC and St. Jude’s, it’s also the Salvation Army, The March of Dimes, The American Heart Association, United Way, and many more.
Thank you for the information on where the donations for St Judes actually go. I find it deplorable that the execs of these “charitable ” organizations make outrageous salaries. Unfortunately, this is common and an almost accepted practice.
I had considered sending the monthly $19. Your article changed my mind.
And, Brian..just think how many more children and families St. Jude’s could help with the more than $3 billion they have in net assets.
Peggy, point well taken. However, I have first hand knowledge of an 8 year girl with brain cancer who sought treatment at our local children’s hospitals, including the Mayo Clinic. She was told there was nothing more they could for her. St. Jude’s took her case, and yes, she and her mother spent 9 months at St. Jude’s. That little girl is now 16 years old and cancer free. I can appreciate your position to support local resources, and I do that as well. But as a father of 2 girls myself, every time I see that cancer free girl, I can’t help but think of what St. Jude’s did for that family.
Good point, Peggy!
I have never understood why people donate to St. Jude’s. Donate to the Children’s Hospital in the city in which you live. Most, if not all Children’s Hospitals belong to organizations that share research with other hospitals around the country and therefor have a larger input base for research and protocols. St. Jude’s advertises that no one pays… But if you have a sick child you are not going to hop on a plane and spend 6 months away from home for that treatment, instead you will be at a local Children’s Hospital. Help them instead. By the way, St. Jude’s belongs to some of these organization so the research is not just happening in their hospital but is being assisted by many other hospitals.
Thank you Lynelle.
Excellent article, and I thank you so much for the information! I, too, received my address labels and letter. Of course I want to help. Thanks to your in-depth research and the time you took to write your post, I now know how I will direct my donation. Thanks again!
If you don’t want 50 cents of every dollar raised by ALSAC used to cover fundraising (29 cents) or to go into their fund balance (21 cents) which has $2.8 billion, then you can try to donate directly to the hospital and specify where you want the funds allocated.
The way to donate, according to this, is directly to the hospital and not through their fundraiser, then all of your money goes to St. Jude’s. That is stated at the end you need to request that it not go through ALSAC then they cannot take their share.
Thank you Christine.
There are also local non-profits in your community where a larger portion of dollars are used to help those targeted. To find out who these non-profits are go to http://www.charitynavigator.com and look up your local United Way and then click on the IRS 990 form to see where United Way gave donated dollars (United Way lists every recipient of $5,000 or more). Then, look at the individual local non-profits and see where they spend their dollars (again, look at their IRS Form 990’s). By doing this, you bypass United Way and the 25% (approximate) they take off the top to cover their administrative overhead which allows more to go directly to recipients and programs helping the targeted recipients.
St. Jude’s does a lot of really good things but they take a very large portion of funds raised through ALSAC (50%) and they have billions in the bank. Just how many billions they need is also a question that comes up. Is it better for them to have $3 billion in the bank or $2 billion and help a lot more children and families?
Anne and Brian, it’s sadly true that any money donated to a charity via United Way receives very few of those funds. About 15 years ago, I was donating to a charity via United Way and later discovered that I was wasting nearly every cent due to those reasonable assumptions. Nowadays I consider my donations carefully due to a restricted budget and tend to research everything beforehand. Better safe than sorry. In fact, researching St. Jude’s (and how donations are meted out) was exactly how I found this webpage. Therefore, I think I will just write a check and send it to the hospital directly. Thank you for the enlightening article, Anne.
Yes, Brian..your assumptions are reasonable – and not what a lot of people realize. United Way does a lot of great things for communities nationwide but they take about 25 cents of every dollar (and this is consistent nationwide if you look at the 990’s). So, the $1 you give to United Way nets to 75 cents. If United Way gave your 75 cents to ALSAC, then ALSAC would use 22 cents (29%) to pay for fundraising costs, put 16 cents (21%) into their fund balance which would leave 37 cents to go to the hospital. 63 cents of your donation went to pay administrative and fundraising costs at United Way and ALSAC, and into ALSAC’s fund balance. Of that 37 cents that went to the hospital, yes…a portion does go to pay administrative costs (management, occupancy, accounting, IT, travel, etc).
Anne, as a long time donor to St. Jude’s, thank you for the post. Question: I donate to St. Jude’s through the United Way Campaign at my job. Is it reasonable to assume my donation is going from my paycheck to United Way, United Way to ALSAC, and then ALSAC to St. Jude’s. If so, is it also reasonable to assume that aside from the .29 / .21 that ALSAC is retaining, that United Way is also retaining some type of administrative charge?
The IRS FORM 990 reports that the hospital only received 50 cents of every dollar raised by ALSAC in 2013. The post does not cover prior years or 3 year averages, although the tax returns show that the hospital received 50 cents of every dollar raised in 2013 and 2014 (see below).
If you look at the IRS Form 990’s for 2014 for ALSAC and St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, you will see that $1.1 billion ($1,120,403,518 exactly) was raised and $530 million ($530,494,893 exactly) was given to the hospital, which is slightly less than 50%….so they appear to be consistent in that they give 50 cents of every dollar raised. They spent $307 million on expenses (salaries, office, accounting, fundraising, etc) and “kept” $283 million and added it their fund balance which now has $3.3 BILLION. I can’t help but think the $283 million could help a lot of sick kids instead of adding to the fundraising entities balance sheet.
As for what the hospital does with the 50 cents it receives, the below chart is from the post.
-$0.29: Functional expenses at ALSAC
-$0.21: Added to fund balance at ALSAC
$0.50: Given to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital
-$0.28: Salaries and compensation-related expenses
-$0.07: Other expenses
-$0.05: Laboratory and Pharmaceutical supplies
-$0.10: Occupancy, IT, travel, legal, accounting, interest, office, telephone, etc
In other words, 56% of the funds received from ALSAC are spent on salaries and compensation-related expenses, 14% on other expenses, 10% on Laboratory and Pharmaceutical supplies, and 20% on occupancy, IT travel, legal, accounting, etc. So, where anyone gets 83% is beyond me.
And, finally I will reiterate a key point of the post: Donors who ask how much of their donation is going to the hospital should be told the truth based on what is reported to the IRS (and not carefully chosen words to deflect the truth): 29 cents of your $1 donation is going to pay for fundraising costs, 50 cents to the hospital, and 21 cents into ALSAC’s fund balance (not the hospital’s fund balance).
It says 83 cents of every dollar received goes to the hospital which probably is true on their 3 yr avg. Keyword is RECIEVED. They only receive 50 cents of every dollar.
Pat Eroh: Well said..a voice of reason, logic, and truth.
Jaime Price – stick your head in the sand or go to the IRS forms and see for yourself. Stop making up numbers as if just saying it will make it true.
When a fundraising organization takes more than 20% – I do not donate. This one takes 50%.
I will find an organization that will use my money to actually help children and families. It is disgusting that any organization will keep half of your money to end up in billions that they just “hold”? That infuriates me and I’m just thankful that I check these organizations out before I send money.
By the way, I don’t send money to televangelists. I do support my pastor but if he is driving around in an expensive car and living in a luxurious house – as I know SOME are, I would not donate to them. God does NOT need money to save as one person pointed out.
Thanks for your helpful info. I was sent some mailing labels and was going to cut a check but have since changed my mind.
I don’t know why they have to have billions in their fund balance. Excellent question! As for your estate, I cannot advise you on that and would refer you to an attorney who specializes in estate planning.
What should we do then with our estate. $1,500.000 was to go to St Jude? Specify the Danny Thomas address specifically? And what is ALSAC saving up for, 2 billion?? shouldnt that be used to take care of more kids and families?
NO, 83 cents of every dollar DOES NOT go to the children and families. In fact, only 50 cents of every dollar raised goes to the hospital. Read the IRS Form 990 submitted by St. Jude’s and ALSAC and if you don’t understand it, ask someone with an accounting background to explain it. Being a patient there has nothing to do with the financial information submitted to the IRS. Do yourself a favor and use your time wisely by reading the IRS Form 990 before drawing inaccurate generalizations.
How dare you. .83 cents of every dollar goes to the children and families. And if 100% all did who would care for patients, volunteers? If you haven’t been a patient there don’t put out rhetoric that points a negative finger towards their fundraising efforts. Thank God some of my donations go to administrative support. I’m so grateful a portiongoes towards staff that had 0 turnover in all of our departmentstore and clinics. And thank goodness donors aren’t ignorant to the fact that there are other costs involved. Use your time more wisely.
1. The figures are those reported by St. Jude’s and ALSAC (NOT mine) and are NOT a matter of disagreement or agreement. They are what they are.
2. Most of the responses received display aggravation and shock because that is what readers are feeling after realizing that only 50 cents of every dollar raised ($488 million of the $976 million) went to St. Jude’s. That ALSAC spent the remaining 29 cents ($288 million – which includes $4.4 million to 9 fundraising staff including nearly $1 million to an ex-officio Director) on fundraising and put 21% (or $210 million) in their fund balance (which ALREADY had $2.6 billion in it) instead of helping more families is reason to display frustration, especially after being told by fundraisers that “it all goes directly to the hospital.” I would think this would outrage you, too. At a minimum, retailers should be telling donors who ask: “50 cents of every dollar raised goes to the hospital. We spent 29 cents on fundraising and put 21 cents in savings.” That’s the truth.
3. People are also frustrated because they believed what they were told and thought their dollars were going directly to the hospital when, in fact, this is not true. Unfortunately most people don’t have the time to read 100 pages of tax returns submitted by these organizations, although they should. One of the reasons this post was written is so that people who don’t have the time or simply don’t understand how to read a tax return, understand where their dollar is going. Although these organizations make this information publicly available, as you correctly point out, they may not know where to look or how to decipher the numbers. The post not only explains the numbers but gives the reader a link to the tax returns.
3. As for travel, ALSAC spent $6.8 million on travel, $5.7 million of which was for fundraising and administrative staff and $1.1 million on fundraising “program” travel. St. Jude’s spent $10 million on travel, $9.5 million of which was on “program” travel while $0.5 million was on administrative travel. Of the total amount spent on travel ($16.8 million), about 60% was spent on “program” travel expenses which includes family travel. Again, I would think that the fact that they spent nearly as much on travel for fundraisers and administrative staff as for families would outrage you.
4. Administrative costs are “a necessary evil” and putting them on a scale and weighing them against a child’s health is exactly what needs to be done as the numbers tell a different story. St. Jude’s does great things but they could do so much better. When ALSAC took $210 million and added it to their fund balance (which already had $2.6 BILLION, not million) instead of helping maybe another 200 or 400 children and their families, I would argue the scale is tipped in the wrong direction. Again, how can this not outrage you?
5. The post was not written to find fault but to inform the public and donors where their dollars are going and to help those who can’t or don’t read the 990 or understand how St Jude’s and ALSAC are spending donor dollars. And, its not a matter of finding fault in a system but pointing out what a non-profit is telling the public at the retail level and what they are reporting to the IRS. Pharmaceuticals (which are mostly public or private companies and not non-profits that rely on donor dollars) have their faults but for you to not be outraged that only 50 cents of every dollar raised is going to St. Jude’s (despite being told by retailers and fundraisers that most of the money raised goes to the hospital) is baffling.
6. If you think the post vilifies St. Jude’s and ALSAC then your outrage should be directed at them because the numbers are theirs. They do good things but they could do so much better.
While I agree with most of your figures regarding the expenses of St.Jude’s Children’s Hospital – I do not agree with your ‘slant’.
By ‘slight-of-word’ you deftly vilified the obvious expenses – (which by the way,is publicly available to anyone) so that, most of the resonses you recieved display aggrevation & shock.
You did however, point out the necessary, justifiable costs of services provided by doctors & staff.
My main problem with your article is your failure to point out in any detail other than the word ‘travel’, exactly what travel expenses encompass.
These facts should be included as a reminder: St.Jude pays for every expense to the family of a child – getting to the hospital from any location and a place to live while the child is in care. Per diem, if you will.
Administrative costs are a necessary evil – but if you put those necessities on the scale against the services provided to each child, which includes but is not limited to having the parent(s) near, the scale would be much heavier on the child’s side.
This is, assuming you go along 100% with these forms of research & treatment for cancer & other illness.
If you want to REALLY find a fault in the system – take a look at pharmaceuticals and invasively damaging cancer treatments vs natural cancer remedies & cures.
Now there’s something to outraged about.
almost all tv fundraising a ripoff..just show a cute dog.vet in wheelchair,kid in hosp.,kid skin and bones. and sad voiced crying actor and money rolls in..on sun send money god will save you ..did not know he took money to do that,thought he did it for free,,sell on ebay.there everbody and his dog have thier hands out..most of thier cos get more then the pres of usa,,red cross co over 600,000 and perks..in 98 ice storm here in north country came in slow and so much paperwork not much got done..the salvation army had thier doors open the next day.think ther co 175,000,,watch out where your money goes,google up info
And after all the money I have donated to them!
Melissa: Really. Did you read the IRS Form 990 submitted by St Jude and ALSAC? Every dollar has 29 cents taken out for fundraising costs. Then they kept 21% which amounted to $210 million and added those funds to their fund balance which had a $2.8 billion (yes, billion..not million) balance at year-end. $1 minus $0.29 minus $0.21 leaves 50 cents. which goes to the hospital to pay for salaries, lab, pharmaceutical and other expenses. These numbers were reported by St. Jude’s so maybe you should click on the link in the post and read the tax return they submitted to the IRS. The bottom line is that if you don’t want 50 cents of every dollar going to the hospital, then don’t make the donation.
Your statement “what happens to it afterwards is up for the company who handles the charity and then the charity itself” is exactly right and that’s exactly what was written in the post.
From the STORE that participates in the donation fundraising 100% goes to being donatedl. What happens to it afterwards is up for the company who handles the charity and then the charity itself. You’d be ridiculous to think that money doesn’t go towards paying for the, you know, research. Which means paying the workers. And the people working to collect the donations and keep everything in track. 😕
I’m just finding this now…thank you!! As the mother of a 5 yr old cancer survivor, it angers and frustrates me so much this time of year when I think about all the consumers wasting money and all the companies thinking they’re making a difference.
Thank you, I’ll send mine to Danny Thomas Way.