By now you’ve heard the frankly sickening news that four cancer charities allegedly conned donors out of nearly $187 million, almost none of which went to help the cancer patients for whom it had been donated.
At the Cancer Support Community Greater Philadelphia, we’re going through what we’ve taken to calling the Four Stages of Scam Reaction.
First there was Disbelief. It was simply mind-boggling to us that any human being could spend funds meant for cancer patients on, allegedly, among other things, luxury cruises and sports tickets. Really? How in the world do you look at yourself in the mirror and justify that?
Then there was Sadness. Nearly $187 million in allegedly misused funds. Do you know what that money could have done for men, women, and children facing cancer? To give you an idea, at the Cancer Support Community Greater Philadelphia, we help more than 2,500 of our neighbors in the region affected by cancer each year … for only $1 million a year.
It was absolutely heart-breaking to us to imagine the care, comfort, and support that would have been received had those gifts been used as they were intended.
Then there was Rage. And it wasn’t just for the cancer patients who missed out on the support they should have received — it was for the donors who gave so incredibly generously to help those patients … and allegedly had their gifts instead used to support jet ski holidays.
At the Cancer Support Community, we’ve prided ourselves in being good stewards of your generous donations, stretching them as far as we can to help as many local families living with cancer as possible for more than two decades.
And we take that whole stretching piece very, very seriously. As our CEO, Kelly Harris, said, “For the love of all things … most of the time we get the toilet paper donated!”
And finally there was Fear. You see, one of those four charities has a name unfortunately very similar to ours.
And we all know that no one reads all that closely and thoroughly these days.
And we all know that people make snap decisions based on that non-in-depth reading.
And we all know how incredibly, incredibly hard it is to change people’s minds about that half-remembered, incorrectly-understood nugget of information that is causing them to feel negatively about something.
In short, guys, we’re a little scared.
As you know, we never charge for any of the 150+ cancer support programs we offer each month. We’re committed to that because we don’t want there to ever be a financial barrier to any man, women, or child who is facing cancer and needs support.
But we also can’t bill insurance. We don’t receive government funding. And we don’t have a massive endowment we can rely on.
Our doors stay open and our programs stay free because each year local individuals, businesses, and foundations hear about us, recognize the importance of what we do, and step up to support us.
And if people in our community hear about this other charity, don’t understand, and think it’s us … well, we’ve already gotten several calls and e-mails from donors saying, “Wow, I hope no one thinks this is you, because that would really hurt your fundraising!”
Yes, yes, it would. And that would hurt the local families living with cancer who our fundraising enables us to serve.
So we need to ask all of you — the wonderful, wonderful people who make free cancer support possible in the Philadelphia region — for a favor. Please tell family, friends, neighbors, co-workers — heck, even random people on the street — about the Cancer Support Community Greater Philadelphia.
Please tell them that we weren’t one of those charities misusing donor funds. Please tell them that we instead are incredible stewards of the funds entrusted to us to help local families living with cancer.
Please tell them to visit our website to learn more about who were are and what we do.
Please help us make sure that some really terrible behavior on the part of some other charities doesn’t hurt our neighbors affected by cancer.