Where Does $100 to the American Cancer Society Go (2019)?
The American Cancer Society (ACS) is a tax-exempt, non-profit 501 (c) (3) dedicated to eliminating cancer by funding cancer research and focusing on prevention and detection, and treatment.
Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, the ACS has a presence throughout the country (divided into 6 geographic regions) with 250 offices in all 50 states, Washington, DC, Guam and Puerto Rico.
There are 21 independent voting members of the governing body, 16 (76%) of whom are male and 5 (24%) who are female (Note: the Form 990 does not report gender identity. The numbers are based on names and google searches).
In 2019, ACS reported total revenue of $720 million (compared to $770 million in 2018) most of which came from contributions, gifts, and grants ($683 million including $43 million in non-cash contributions – clothing, hotels, wigs, etc).
Expenses totaled $716 million (not including $716 million in depreciation) categorized as follows:
- $330 million (46% of revenue): Compensation
- $164 million (23% of revenue): Grants
- $109 million (15% of revenue): Office-Related Expenses
- $ 52 million (7% of revenue): Fees for Services (primarily fundraising and other)
- $ 30 million (4% of revenue): Advertising and Promotion
- $ 18 million (3% of revenue): Travel and Conferences
- $ 7 million (1% of revenue): Other Expenses (i.e. medals, recruitment, etc)
- $ 6 million (1% of revenue): Printing
As illustrated above, compensation is the largest expense for the organization. 4,922 employees received $330 million in compensation which equates to an average compensation of $67,000. The most highly compensated employee was the CEO, Gary M Reedy who received $1,091,029.
Grants at $164 million or 23% of revenue was the second largest expense. 348 grants greater than $5,000 were made – 338 to other non-profits and 10 to other organizations. The five largest grant recipients were reported to be:
- $29.9 million: ACS Cancer Action Network for program support
- $ 3.6 million: Oregon Health and Science University for research grant
- $ 3.2 million: Regents of University of Michigan for research grant
- $ 3.0 million: Regents of the University of California for tobacco control
- $ 3.0 million: Sloan Kettering Institute for research grant
In 2019, ACS received $43 million in non-cash contributions (most of which were clothing and household goods, hotel stays, and wigs) and made about $13 million in non-cash grants to individuals. It is important to note that ACS operates American Cancer Society Discovery Shops, which are thrift stores whose proceeds benefit the ACS.
So, if you made a $100 contribution in 2019, how was that $100 spent? Read on.
-$ 46: Compensation
-$ 15: Office-Related Expenses
-$ 7: Fees for Services (primarily fundraising and other)
-$ 4: Advertising and Promotion
-$ 3: Travel and Conventions
-$ 1: Printing
-$ 1: Other Expenses
-$ 77: Total Organization Expenses
$ 23: Remaining Revenue
-$ 23: Grants
As illustrated above, $77 of every $100 in revenue was spent on organization expenses while $23 out of every $100 was awarded in grants. Note: If non-cash contributions ($43 million) and non-cash grants ($13 million) were excluded from income and expenses, respectively, there is not a significant difference in how $100 was spent.
A final word on net assets. The ACS has more than $1 billion in net assets, and closed the year with $1.115 billion (after recognizing nearly $50 million in net unrealized gains on assets) and a negative $15 million change in assets from a net change in pension liability.
To read the IRS Form 990 (2019), click here.