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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Support cancer causes wisely

Peter H. Gott, M.D.

DEAR DR. GOTT: Would you explain why there are so many places to give money for cancer? We receive at least one request a week and sometimes as many as three or four seeking donations. Why don’t they combine their programs?

We sometimes give to memorials but cannot give weekly or even monthly. Are they all equally deserving of our donations?

DEAR READER: I can understand your frustration when you receive countless requests from people seeking donations on behalf of a variety of organizations. Your mailbox is likely full of such material, and the phone solicitations often occur when we all sit down at the dinner table following a long day at work.

The roots of the American Cancer Society (ACS) go back almost 100 years. It began through the American Gynecological Society, which met in Washington, D.C., in 1912 to discuss how cancer control could be achieved through a campaign to educate the general public. That education, then and now, does not come without a price. Research is critical if we are to learn new ways to fight the battle that affects people from every walk of life and age bracket.

The ACS is a nonprofit organization with the sole mission to eliminate cancer. A large part of that organization’s structure today is its highly professional administrative and fundraising staff that, in an attempt to keep research ongoing and you informed of such advances in medicine, may inadvertently double or triple its mailings and phone requests.

The ACS does not have the exclusive right to solicit funds. I don’t know of many organizations – for-profit or not-for-profit – that do not have periodic solicitations. The $64,000 question is how to reduce the needless paper consumption and the number of solicitations. I guess the answer is for us to put everything in perspective. Keep it simple, donate what we can to those organizations we choose to support, and recycle all that unwanted paper. When you make a donation, do so directly to the organization that will profit from the funds received. Countless businesses and people are hired to solicit funds. That is their job. The sad downside is that the organization to which you donate your hard-earned money may receive only 20 percent or 30 percent of every dollar collected. Don’t be seduced by the free coffee mug, baseball cap, concert tickets, book bag or other goodies you can receive if you up your donation. Forfeit the clutter, and, if you donate, make those dollars count.

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