Commentary

Smart Donations

Cancer is a devastating disease that transcends ethnic, socioeconomic, and racial borders. Every year it kills almost 600,000 people in the United States and forces almost a million more to endure painful treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy. Many Andover students, including myself, have had close relatives taken from us by this deadly disease. It is for these reasons that it is imperative that we support charities that help to combat cancer. At the same time, it is also important that we choose the cancer charities we support wisely, picking the ones that use the largest percentage of their money for actual charitable work.

With this standard in mind, Campuses Against Cancer should find an event that they can run in place of Relay for Life. Relay for Life is the trademark event of the American Cancer Society (A.C.S.). By any objective measure, the A.C.S. is a poorly-run charitable organization. Currently, it spends only 59.5 percent of the money it takes in on actual charitable programs, a measly amount when compared to other charities. The remaining proceeds go to their inefficient fundraising regime and bloated executive salaries. John Seffrin, previous C.E.O. of the A.C.S., has made an eye-popping seven-figure annual salary since he took on the position in the ’90s. Charity Navigator, a trusted charity watchdog site, rates A.C.S.’s financial performance one out of four stars. On top of all this, the A.C.S. has been marred in scandal for years. In 1985, a high-level fundraising executive of A.C.S. was indicted on a 4-million dollar tax fraud in which multiple contributors took advantage of fake donations to the A.C.S. to claim falsified tax deductions. In 2000, an executive in the A.C.S. Ohio branch was caught embezzling approximately eight-million dollars. There simply is no reason to support such an incompetently run charity when there are so many other more deserving charities to support.

In future years, the club should consider supporting any number of cancer charities that use their money more efficiently. One charity to consider is the V Foundation. Founded in 1993 by Jim Valvano as a way to turn his cancer diagnosis into a force for good, the V Foundation is one of the most efficient general cancer charities in the U.S. They use an amazing 88 percent of their revenue on actual charitable causes including cancer research, and their executives don’t make bloated seven-figure salaries. For their superb financial efficacy, Charity Navigator rates them with a four out of four stars. As a community, when we choose to stand up to cancer, we must do it thoughtfully. Should Andover continue this great collaborative effort in future years, we must realign our efforts to ensure that we do the most good possible with the money we raise.

Noah Wintman is a four-year Senior from Longmeadow, Mass.

May 5, 2016