Cancer Society lays out spending 0
The Canadian Cancer Society wants the residents of Haliburton County to know that it appreciates their support.
And is putting their money to good use.
“What I would really like to do is recognize and thank the community for their support and make sure people do know the tremendous impact their support is having and can have in the future,” Mary Hobbs, a regional director with the organization, said last week.
The society came under intense scrutiny by national media last year after an investigation by the CBC revealed it was spending more on fundraising than it was on research, with less than 22 per cent of the money it raised going to the latter.
“The reality is that the society’s mission encompasses more than research,” Hobbs said, explaining a big part of of its mandate is also improving the lives of those living with cancer. “When people say we don’t spend much money on research, they’re forgetting we provide a lot of information and support for people living in the community.”
This includes the production of brochures and other materials, the operation of a website, toll-free phone line and the society’s transportation program, which Hobbs said is by far its most costly.
Under the program, volunteers, who are reimbursed for mileage, drive cancer patients to their treatments.
Last year, Haliburton County patients were driven a total of more than 170,000 kilometres, representing some 1,040 trips.
The county has 22 volunteer drivers.
Hobbs was asked for a breakdown of the society’s expenses and said that 65 per cent of the money raised by the society went towards its “mission,” including research grants and community programming.
31 per cent is spent on fundraising and four per cent goes to administrative costs.
For the most recent financial year, the society spent $127 on its mission work nationally, with $48 million of that allotted specifically for research.
Hobbs was asked if donations to the society had dropped since the stories on its finances broke last year.
“We have been seeing certain types of donations decline since before that . . . so we’re not sure what to attribute it to,” she said, adding that ongoing uncertainty in the economy was likely a factor.
Hobbs said the organization is dedicated to ethical practices and financial transparency, that an annual report is available on its website and more financial information can be provided upon request.
Local Relay for Life organizer Aggie Tose said the controversy hadn’t resulted in a loss of donations at the local level.
“I don’t think it impacted the amount but it certainly impacted our time to make sure everyone knew what we were doing,” Tose said.
In six years, the local Relay for Life, held at HHSS each spring, has raised more than $1 million.
“Certainly none of this could happen without a great small community and I think we’ve proven what a great place this is.”
According to the society, the national cancer survival rate has increased from 25 per cent when research was first being funded to 62 per cent today.