Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

The wife of one of my best friends from high school is running a marathon in honor of three very special individuals in her life who are battling or have battled lymphoma. As part of this process, she is raising funds for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

I told my friend and his wife to "count me in" before doing any research into the charity, based on our friendship and the fact that I think it's very cool that she's running a marathon and raising funds in honor of others. But I'm curious to see how the charity she has chosen rates in terms of efficiency and effectiveness.

I went to Charity Navigator and searched the name "leukemia," which yielded eight results. My first reaction was slight disappointment that The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society received only 3 stars (out of 4 possible) from Charity Navigator. However, I then looked at the other seven charities in the search results and none had 4 stars, only one other had 3 stars, two charities had 2 stars, two had 1 star, and one had no stars! I had never seen that before. So it looks like if leukemia is your cause, there's not much to choose from out of the existing non-profits. But as I say that, I recall that my friend said that her friends and relatives had lymphoma, not leukemia. A search for lymphoma yields three results. One of them, Lymphoma Research Foundation, is a 4 star charity.

So I'll first look at The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. 75% of donations go toward program expenses, which gives the organization only 2 stars for efficiency based on Charity Navigator's rankings. However, the organization gets a full 4 stars for capacity to carry out its mission, which is to "Cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families." To search for a cure, the society has funded more than $400 million of blood cancer research, though I'm uncertain of the results the research funding has produced. I'm also uncertain to what degree they've improved the quality of life for patients and families -- that would be best answered by patients and their families. To try to improve quality of life, the society provides information on the disease and available resources, and they also have online discussion boards. One thing that turns me off about the charity is the fact that the CEO makes about $450,000. Granted he's running a $200 million organization, but that still seems somewhat obscene to me when the average non-profit CEO earns about about $140,000.

Looking at the Lymphoma Research Foundation (LRF), 86% of donations go toward program expenses, as opposed to 75% for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (TLLS). It is a much smaller organization, however, with only $12 million in revenue as opposed to over $200 million for TLLS. LRF’s mission is "to eradicate lymphoma and serve those touched by this disease." One reason they're able to keep costs down is that board members, several who are lymphoma survivors, are volunteers. The scientific advisory board is also made up of volunteer physicians. The CEO earns a more reasonable $158,000, approximately 1/3 the compensation of TLLS' CEO. Similar to TLLS, it is difficult for me to rate the effectiveness of LRF.

Since my friend has a more vested interest and I'll give the same amount of money either way, I'll give my friend the choice of where she thinks my donation will best be spent.


Crystal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Crystal said...

I received a donation letter in the mail from the L & L society. However after reading this, No thanks. Id rather send my $20 bucks straight to the family. Where is that option when donating ????

DumDumPop said...

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