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April 10, 2017


$19 a Month to St. Jude’s: How Much Goes to the Kids

by Anne Paddock

St. Jude’s runs advertisements asking donors to make a monthly gift of $19 and become a “partner in hope.” $19 sounds manageable so who wouldn’t want to give a little less than twenty bucks a month to help a sick child with cancer or other life threatening disease? Judging by the tax returns submitted by St. Jude’s, a lot of people make this donation every single month. Have you ever wondered how much of that $19 is actually spent on a sick child and his or her family?

Based on the IRS Form 990’s submitted for the year ending June 30, 2015, the answer is $8.17 per month:

$19.00:  Contribution

-$ 5.51:   Fundraising Functional Expenses at ALSAC

-$ 3.99:  To Net Fund Balance (Savings at ALSAC)

-$ 9.50:  Subtotal

 $ 9.50:  Amount Remaining and Provided to the Hospital

-$ 8.17:  Hospital Functional Expenses

-$ 1.33:  To Net Fund Balance (Savings at St. Jude’s)

$ 0.00

To understand the above, it is necessary to know that St. Jude’s is actually two organizations:

  • ALSAC – St Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Inc. (the fundraising arm known as ALSAC
  • St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Inc. (the hospital/treatment arm known as St. Jude’s

ALSAC’s sole purpose is to support the hospital.  They raise funds and spend 29 cents of every dollar ($5.51 of $19) on fundraising functional expenses and keep 21 cents ($3.99 of $19) for their net fund balance, leaving 50 cents ($9.50 of $19) for the hospital. The hospital spends 43 cents ($8.17 of $19) of that dollar on functional expenses of the hospital leaving 7 cents ($1.33) for their fund balance (like a savings account).

On an annual basis, a $19 per month contribution is $228 which is spent as follows:

$228.00: Contribution

-$ 66.12: Fundraising Functional Expenses at ALSAC

-$47.88: To Net Fund Balance (Savings at ALSAC)

-$114.00: Subtotal

$114.00:  Amount Remaining and Provided to Hospital

-$98.04: Hospital Functional Expenses

-$15.96: To Net Fund Balance (Savings at St. Jude’s)

$ 0.00

As illustrated above, $98.04 of a $228 contribution is spent on the functional expenses of the hospital while $66.12 is spent on fundraising functional expenses. The two organizations did not spend $63.84 (47.88 + 15.96) opting to place these funds in their fund balance.

20 Comments Post a comment
  1. Linda Fisher
    Dec 29 2017

    This is so not fair to the children. I donate for the children not for the expenses and CEO’s and the wages of the staff. Something should change in this non-profit organization. How do these people sleep at night if they are supposed to be dedicated to treating and finding cures for chidren who are victims of horrible diseases? I am so disappointed in this organization.

  2. Judith Diaz
    Jan 4 2018

    This is a darn shame. I was all ready to make a New Year’s resolution to donate to this charity. It breaks my heart that I will not do so now since less than half of my donations actually go to benefit these children.

  3. Linda Fisher
    Jan 11 2018

    The CEO’s and the higher ups make way too much money. The doctors and nurses and the research teams should be the ones making money. We will donate if we know that our money is going to the important people who really do the necessary work to save children. I don’t respect that so much is wasted on huge salaries to people that don’t save lives. What is there about their jobs that is so important???? Their job cannot be more important to the research doctors and doctors that practice to save our childrens’ lives. This way imbalanced. If you want to continue to receive money from me, then your CEO and the other overpaid individuals need to have cuts in pay .

  4. Carol A Carlson
    Jan 15 2018

    People-the bottom line is that all the treatment is free!! Isn’t that what it is about-helping the children? Well, no child is turned away-how is that not good enough?As long as these people are treating kids with cancer and also doing research for free, that is good enough for me!

  5. Jan 15 2018

    Unfortunately, the bottom line is NOT that all the treatment and research are free. Donors (and insurance companies and grant providers including the government) are paying for these expenses and St Jude’s and ALSAC have a duty to use those resources to help as many as possible. The bottom line is that this is all about helping the children and they could help SO MANY MORE. Set your standards higher – for the kids.

  6. john monetti
    Apr 2 2018

    Is there a fund that someone can contribute to that 100% of the money goes to the expense of care and for their family?
    Many contributions would be generated not due to any publicity for advertising stunts or expenses but just God given generosity

  7. Apr 2 2018

    Not that I know of. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there were?

  8. Tara Warfield
    Apr 6 2018

    Find a family that is going there and donate directly to them is the best way to be sure all of your money is going to that child. Even then though, I assure you that the parents will need to use your money to pay bills, etc. There is always overhead. I was kind of surprised to see that that much money went to the kids after the breakdown.

  9. Graci Getz
    Apr 8 2018

    Why was my donation $27. rather than $19.?

  10. Graci Getz
    Apr 8 2018

    Do I still get a Tee shirt, size large?

  11. Apr 8 2018

    I have no idea. Contact them.

  12. Apr 8 2018

    You have to contact the organization to get your question answered.

  13. Tara Warfield
    Apr 10 2018

    I only wanted to donate $19 per month and their website only allows $25 so I just send in the $19 by check. Even though I didn’t want the t-shirt, I called and asked about it and the $19 and the woman seemed confused but offered to send envelopes to me. She didn’t have a clue about the t-shirt. That turned me off a bit but I’m glad the kids and their families get mainly free help.

  14. Apr 10 2018

    Tara Warfield: In reference to your comment “….I’m glad the kids and their families get mainly free help”: Did you read the post?

  15. HJK
    Jun 29 2018

    What is wrong with you people? How does any organization run if people do not get paid? If more fund raising isn’t budgeted? These things are just part of the business and it must be done. The doctors, CEO, nurses and staff cannot all donate their time. The electric, gas, transportation and food companies cannot donate everything for free. Some of the money we donate must off set these expenses. How can 100% of your donation be only for the kids? This is all for the kids! Everything you complain about and everything I have listed is for the kids! Without a great CEO this place doesn’t run and donations will not come in. Stop being so critical and just give if you WANT to give and stop looking for excuses not to give. Its really pathetic.

  16. Jun 29 2018

    To HJK:

    What is wrong with you?

    The post and comments say nothing about people not getting paid.

    The point of the post is to tell the reader where revenue is spent.

    The point of the post is to also point out that 29% of every dollar went to fundraising. ALSAC then put 21% in the net fund balance. 50% went to the hospital but they only spent 43% on hospital care costs. The last 7% went into the net fund balance.

    No, these things are not “just a part of the business and must be done.” They could spend less on fundraising (which includes memberships and initiation fees to health and social clubs and payment for companion travel. I’d be willing to guess that most people think it’s more important to spend money helping a child then to pay for someone’s companion to travel to a fundraising event or to pay for a social club or health club membership).

    No one is talking about doctors or nurses donating their time. Where did you get this from? Did you even read the post?

    No one is talking about 100% of a donation going to the kids but 43% is low.

    No, here’s a newsflash: it’s not all for the kids. The tax returns reported the organizations paid for companion travel and for health and social club fees and initiation fees.

    No, everything written about is not a complaint about what’s for the kids. It’s a complaint that more money is not spent on the kids.

    Your comments are pathetic. Do yourself a favor. Read the post and the tax returns and the financial statements before you comment.

  17. John laperle
    Aug 15 2018

    Thank you all for the info, I was always told 100 percent went to the care for the children for years we have donated to St. Jude’s with that in mind, from this day forward all our donations will go directly to St. Jude’s. Of course I believe that people should be paid for there work they do but I think those who donate should be told the truth where there dollars go.
    St Jude should get a minimum of 65 to 70 percent of all donations.

  18. Tammy
    Aug 15 2018

    That is wrong should all go to help the kids

    Nov 26 2018

    it is a sad day in American history .

  20. Juliette
    Dec 6 2018

    I donated to St Jude’s and was told my personal information would not be “sold”. Within a few weeks after my donation my phone exploded with calls from endless charities asking for money, From the terminally ill children’s fund, Breast Cancer of America fund, Blood disease fund, and on and on etc. etc……..I told the callers not to ever call me again and some had the audacity to say they could keep calling since I had done business with one of their partners meaning St Judes, and it was legal for them to call me. I strongly reiterated my demand for them to never call my number again. St Judes then called a few weeks later soliciting further donations. I asked them why my personal information was sold to fake charities as I was specifically told my info would not be sold . St Jude stated that they don’t “sell” names but they do ‘share’ names with their partners in exchange for donations!! Outrageous! What a play on words and dishonest deceptive practices they employ. I informed St Judes never ever to call me again and to remove my name from their donor list as they have received all the “donations” they would be getting in my name from their partners. I subsequently learned that most charities “share’ your info with their partners if you didn’t give or commit to a large enough donation or ongoing contributions. If you’re a “big” donor then they will keep you exclusively for their own profit and gain! So in the final analysis, it’s just another type of charity scam!

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