Where Does $100 to the American Cancer Society Go (2020)
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 350 offices in all 50 states, Washington, DC, Guam and Puerto Rico.
There are 22 independent voting members of the governing body, 18 (82%) of whom are male and 4 (18%) who are female (Note: the Form 990 does not report gender identity. The numbers are based on names and google searches).
In 2020, ACS reported total revenue of $576 million (compared to $720 million in 2019 and $770 million in 2018) most of which came from contributions, gifts, and grants ($533 million including $43 million in non-cash contributions – clothing, hotels, wigs, etc).
Expenses totaled $549 million (not including $15 million in depreciation) categorized as follows:
- $290 million (50% of revenue): Compensation
- $ 95 million (16% of revenue): Grants
- $ 85 million (15% of revenue): Office-Related Expenses
- $ 36 million (6% of revenue): Fees for Services (primarily fundraising and other)
- $ 26 million (5% of revenue): Advertising and Promotion
- $ 11 million: (2% of revenue): Printing
- $ 5 million (1% of revenue): Travel and Conferences
- $ 1 million (less than 1% of revenue): Other Expenses
As illustrated above, compensation is the largest expense for the organization. 4,320 employees received $290 million in compensation which equates to an average compensation of $67,000. The most highly compensated employee was Leonard Lichtenfeld who received $730,765 in 2020.
Grants at $85 million (compared to $164 million or 23% of revenue n 2019) or 16% of revenue was the second largest expense. 348 grants greater than $5,000 were made – 312 to other non-profits and 36 to other organizations. The 14 largest grant recipients were reported to be:
- $24 million: ACS Cancer Action Network for program support
- $ 3 million: Ohio State University for research grant
- $ 3 million: Utah Southwestern Medical Center for research grant
- $ 2 million: Columbia University for research grant
- $ 2 million: Georgetown University for research grant
- $ 2 million: Mass General Hospital for research grant
- $ 2 million: Regents of University of Michigan for research grant
- $ 2 million: University of Chicago for research grant
- $ 2 million: University of Colorado for research grant
- $ 2 million: The Research Institute of Fox for research grant
- $ 2 million: The Cleveland Clinic Foundation for research grant
- $ 2 million: Stanford University for research grant
- $ 2 million: Northwestern University for research grant
- $ 2 million: Albert Einstein College of Medicine for research grant
In 2020, ACS received $26 million in non-cash contributions (most of which were clothing and household goods, publicly traded marketable securities, hotel stays, wigs) and made about $4 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 2020, how was that $100 spent? The short answer is that $50 was spent on compensation while $29 was spent on other office and organization expenses (including advertising) and $16 was spent on grants (primarily research). The longer answer is:
-$ 50: Compensation
-$ 15: Office-Related Expenses
-$ 6: Fees for Services (primarily fundraising and other)
-$ 5: Advertising and Promotion
-$ 1: Travel and Conventions
-$ 2: Printing
-$ 79: Total Organization Expenses
$ 21: Remaining Revenue
-$ 16: Grants
$ 5: Unspent Revenue: To General Fund
As illustrated above, $79 of every $100 in revenue was spent on organization expenses while $16 out of every $100 was awarded in grants. Note: If depreciation ($15 million), non-cash contributions ($46 million) and non-cash grants ($4 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 $1.2 billion in net assets of which $750 million is restricted while $450 million is unrestricted. Gains on the sale of assets totaled $27 million while investment income totaled $19 million. A 4% return on $1.2 billion equates to $48 million which is interesting to note.
To read the IRS Form 990 (2020), click here.