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Your Donations at Work?

“Relay! Relay! Relay! Register for Relay! Donate to Relay! Come out and Support!”  We have heard these demanding statements hundreds of times. As we all know, Relay for Life is approaching rather rapidly, and the urge for registration and a flux of new participants is greatly advocated.  However, the real question is why? Why do we need to donate to relay? What will going to Relay really accomplish and where do our donations go to?

First and foremost, what exactly is a relay event? Relay for Life is an organized overnight community fundraising walk where members of designated teams of people walk around a track for a certain period of time. Food, games, and activities are offered as well to provide entertainment. Included with these activities are a luminaria ceremony, survivors lap, and a fight back ceremony. These periods are considered an emotional time of reflection for the survivors, caregivers, and family members who have lost loved ones. While Relay for life is a wonderful community building and encouraged rally, many questions have been raised about the exact locations involving “donor dollars.”

Have you noticed that nowhere on the Relay for Life website does it tell you where your donations are going? Many participants of the event do not notice this simply because they are distracted by the hype for the event. Other participate assume that their donations are going directly to their specific cancer or their specific cause. However that is not the case. Your donations, in fact, do help and contribute to the hoped eventual decay against cancer, but many participants would like to know how?

In an interview between Jennifer Windrum and a representative from the American Cancer society, information about your donation locations was revealed. After Jennifer asks, When someone participates in a Relay for Life event, can they designate their donation dollars to a specific cancer? If not, where, specifically, do these event dollars go?” The representative states that the donations are brought to a “general fund to be allocated where the need is greatest and where we have the most critical opportunities to make a difference in the fight against cancer and help people and families facing the disease.” So, in retrospect, donators will not really know exactly where their money is going. Instead they just have to hope and or assume that the “general fund” where their money is contributed will in fact be used effectively.

In the interview the representative does state that the society is aware of the inefficiencies of the website and they do acknowledge some donor frustration. Supposedly, the association is working to perfect the issue. The representative states, “The American Cancer Society publishes an Annual Report and makes our financial statements available every year on Our strategic plan and annual progress report also shows the lifesaving work that our donors’ dollars make possible.” On the Relay website, The American Cancer Society has also included a tab titled, “Where the dollars go”, so progress is evident, but the issue is still a little unclear.

Relay for life is in fact a life changing event that allows others to see how much cancer has affected the lives of many. However, the event and organization would definitely be more inciting if participants and or donors had more sufficient information given, rather than just being satisfied that your money goes to a “general fund.”

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