For the past several days, a reporter from The Chronicle of Philanthropy, a monthly journal for the non-profit world, has been calling and emailing our senior staff members with a long list of questions. She is trying to put together a story on the Cancer Recovery Foundation Group. Given this reporter’s history and the nature of her questions, the story will very likely be negative. I have been repeatedly advised not to respond. But that is not my nature. We have done nothing wrong and have nothing to hide. We are proud of our service to cancer patients and their families. So this response was sent yesterday:
Thursday, February 7, 2013
Ms. Caroline Preston
The Chronicle of Philanthropy
1255 Twenty-Third Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20037
Dear Ms. Preston,
This letter is written to you against the advice of our attorney, public relations firm and Cancer Recovery Foundation International senior staff. They all say (a) you have a pre-established agenda in the story on us you are writing, (b) the facts I present will be cherry-picked to support that agenda and (c) you have a history of writing stories that are not only critical of charities but at times appear to border on defamation.
So why do I write? I wish to go on record as providing the truth, the whole picture. And as a result, all of us will look for your story to carefully and accurately reflect the same.
I, Greg Anderson, was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer in 1984. My surgeon gave me just 30 days to live. Refusing to accept the hopelessness of this prognosis, I went searching for people who had lived even though their doctors had told them they were “terminal.” The findings from interviews and surveys with over 16,000 cancer survivors form the strategies and action points for what has become an international movement.
I am the Founder & CEO of Cancer Recovery Foundation International (CRFI), a U.S.-based 501 (c) 6. This is a global affiliation of national charitable Member Organizations who share the mission of helping all people prevent and survive cancer. CRFI provides a wide variety of necessary services common to non-profits such as program service development, marketing strategy and development plus administrative functions including accounting, legal and human resources. Member Organizations pay for these services.
CRFI’s Member Organizations focus on the non-medical aspects of cancer prevention and survival. My award-winning “integrated cancer care” program is used by all Member Organizations and is an award-winning model combining nutrition, exercise, mind/body, social support and spirituality with conventional medical care.
I have written and had published fourteen books, CDs and DVDs on this subject including:
- The Cancer Conqueror (Word Publishing, 1988)
- Cancer: 50 Essential Things to Do (Penguin 1990; 4th edition 2013)
- The Triumphant Patient (Nelson, 1992)
- Healing Wisdom (Penguin, 1994)
- The 22 (Non-Negotiable) Laws of Wellness (Harper Collins, 1996)
- Living Life on Purpose (Harper Collins, 1997)
- Incredible Wellness (Turning Point, 1999)
- Creating Wellness (Turning Point, 2000)
- Cancer and Nutrition (Turning Point, 2002)
- Healing and the Mind (Turning Point, 2004)
- Cancer and the Lord’s Prayer (Meredith, 2006)
- Health is More than Healthcare (PBS, 2008)
- Hope: The Force that Sets Your Course (Turning Point, 2009)
- Breast Cancer: 50 Essential Things You Can Do (Conari, 2011)
These works currently total over 3.4-million copies in print, have been translated into 34 different languages and several are established classics of their kind.
I lecture widely and my integrated cancer care model is not only used in cancer but has also helped redefine the very meaning of health and healing to embrace the whole person—the physical, the emotional and the spiritual. This global paradigm shift is the stellar contribution made by my work and that of our Member Organizations. Every week we receive communications that repeatedly state sentiments to the effect, “You saved my life.” Our work has impacted the lives of millions of cancer patients, their family members and their support networks. It has even helped initiate changes in the field of healthcare and its many allied professions.
The work started in 1985. In December of the previous year, after being given the 30-day-to-live pronouncement by my surgeon, I checked out of the hospital and went home where most people thought I would die. At one point my weight was down to 112-pounds, I was on morphine to control the pain and I spent most of the time in bed. Prior to my diagnosis, I worked full-time in Christian ministry. My wife and I prayed, “Dear Lord, use this, use us, to somehow help the next person and the next family who are going through cancer.”
From my death bed, I started a search by telephone for cancer survivors. The doctors and the hospitals refused to share the names of patients they treated. So I telephoned ministries throughout the country asking for referrals to people who had survived cancer. Patients eagerly responded.
I kept at this task and soon noted I was experiencing less pain. Color began to return to my skin. I began to do some exercises while seated in a chair. Even today people ask, “When did you realize you would live longer than 30 days?” My answer, “On the 31st day.” It was touch and go for three months. But thereafter I slowly began to feel stronger.
Our home became a clearinghouse for cancer survival. I kept notes on all the things patients did to survive. It was purely selfish—I wanted to learn and live. My wife typed up a little four page pamphlet that simply listed many of these ideas, especially the nutritional and prayer practices of survivors. We had 50 copies printed and mailed them out. It was a humble beginning.
People wanted to learn more. Patients and family wanted to support one another. Next, a group of us met at a local church. The first meeting was just sixteen people. An older gentleman said we needed a name. He suggested “Cancer Conquerors” after the bible verse in Romans 8, “. . .through Him we are more than conquerors.” The name stuck. Other churches and several hospitals started similar groups based on our work. An attorney who attended then incorporated Cancer Conquerors Foundation as a California non-profit. And I published my first book using that name. Much of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s I spent conducting conferences and establishing support groups in churches and hospitals mostly in the Western United States.
Expansion Domestically and Internationally
I never intended to start an international movement. But with the publication of my second book, Cancer: 50 Essential Things to Do, things began to rapidly change. The book struck a cord. First, it was a well-received practical patient-centered guide helping people establish a step-by-step plan through cancer. It was also less Christian and more spiritual thus appealing to a wider audience. And foreign rights to the work were widely and quickly sold.
A group at a church in Toronto, Canada was the first to inquire if they could start a cancer ministry and use my materials. Then came inquiries from England, France and Germany. To this day our international expansion follows the translation of my books. We currently have inquiries from people in Eastern Europe, South America, Asia Pacific and even the Middle East wanting to start Cancer Recovery organizations in their own country. Unfortunately we are not able to support rapid expansion abroad. But we continue to explore our international responsibilities and intend to respond as our human and financial resources allow.
In the United States, we eventually established separate 501(c)3 Member Organizations for adult cancers, children’s cancer and breast cancer. This was done for one reason: focus. A marketing research study helped us understand that in order for our services to reach more patients and their family members, we needed dedicated stand-alone charities and support staff devoted to serving specific populations. While costly, this strategy has proven successful. In 2012 we reached over 2-million people with more services than any other time in our 28-year history.
Gifts in Kind
Beginning in 2003, Cancer Recovery Foundation Member Organizations became more active in several gifts-in-kind programs. There were three reasons:
- Mission Mandate. In the By-laws of each Member Organization is language regarding our shared purpose which states, “. . . to help, without geographical restrictions, cancer patients in need.” This means our charters demand that we seek out cancer patients, worldwide, who are in need or at risk and provide them with appropriate assistance—physical, psychological and spiritual.
- Program Services. Member Organizations fulfill the mission mandate by underwriting programs that include patient and family emergency financial needs, gifts to support the psychological and spiritual recovery of cancer patients as well as offering educational materials that teach cancer prevention and survival principles. In addition, Member Organizations seek gifts of medicines and medical equipment in order to place these with select pre-qualified organizations, typically Christian missions in developing countries, who will in turn give them to cancer patients with demonstrated needs. These programs represent the core of our work. We exist to deliver these services.
- Humanitarian Value. Providing such program services, including relevant gifts-in-kind, demonstrates our organizations’ commitment to human values, human welfare and service to those cancer patients in endemic poverty without regard to the recipient’s race, creed, or nationality.
This part of our work comes directly from my personal religious beliefs and is further deeply seated by my time in Christian ministry. It is fully supported by the Boards of the various Member Organizations. It results in an important ethos at Cancer Recovery Foundation, the Judeo-Christian ethic that we are indeed “. . . our brothers (and sisters) keeper.” See Genesis 4. We see ourselves as servants to people impacted by cancer. We take seriously our opportunities and responsibilities to serve with compassion, hope and love. Our strategy is to win patients to our holistic approach, empower them with knowledge and help those in need. Win. Empower. Help. Those are our motivating values.
Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) allow relevant gifts-in-kind to be recorded as both incoming revenue and program service expenditures. This means that even though the gifts-in-kind are given to us at no cost from a variety of sources, please carefully note these are gifts not purchases as you have incorrectly stated, they appear on financial statements as revenue with no cost of fundraising. Once expended, these same gifts-in-kind are shown as program services along with shipping and handling costs if required. Throughout the process, our management and control policies and practices insure these gifts are properly received, titled, documented, transported, delivered and ultimately reach the intended recipients—cancer patients in need.
The result is the enhanced fulfillment of our mission to help cancer patients in need. These program services do not employ questionable accounting practices nor are these program services done to obscure our fundraising ratios as you suggest. We do not assign value to such donations. Instead, using a variety of sources, we confirm values assigned by the donor. We employ GAAP standards as our valuation benchmarks. And all our Member Organizations are audited annually by independent outside auditors. Never in our history has a member had a qualified audit opinion. Importantly, these program services are completely transparent to the many proud partners who support us.
Ms. Preston, your questions regarding our Member Organizations’ gifts-in-kind programs are either intentionally prejudicial or your questions reveal a lack of understanding of this type of charitable transaction. In either case, your questions disparage our motives and institutional values. They insinuate wrong-doing. Plus the false assertions and assumptions behind several of your questions border on defamation, of which our attorney has previously warned we will consider actionable if published.
Whether it is providing chemotherapy to a mission hospital on the edge of a garbage dump in Nairobi, a Feeling Beautiful Again kit to a depressed breast cancer patient in Boston or a Bear-Able Gift Bag to a frightened child with cancer in London, we employ gifts-in-kind to directly and efficiently fulfill our mission.
Some Cancer Recovery Foundation Member Organizations employ direct response marketing partners and consultants. Their services include community outreach, public education and fundraising. Winning people to our holistic integrated cancer prevention and recovery programs, then empowering them with the knowledge to act, is a central objective of these marketing partnerships. Fundraising is often incidental to the educational objective. We believe 80-percent of cancers can be prevented. Public education is at the heart of reducing cancer incidence and achieving this goal. Education is also central to equipping people in prevention and supporting patients in survival. The marketing partners and consultants help us fulfill this mission. You have characterized these costs as all fundraising. That is wrong. They are partially fundraising and partially program services.
Further, we have been able to negotiate unique agreements with marketing partners that allow our Member Organizations to deal directly with newly acquired donors. Here we offer the opportunity to make monthly, major and even planned gifts. When viewed in total and measured by overall return, we believe the marketing partner expenses represent a wise and effective investment of resources.
In conclusion, please carefully study this letter. It responds to all the issues you have raised in your previous communications. And once again, all of us will carefully monitor your story, expecting nothing less than the full and complete truth.
I am, sincerely
Greg Anderson, Founder & CEO
Cancer Recovery Foundation International