By Kendall Fisher, executive producer at Grow Wire
When the American Cancer Society (ACS) was founded in 1913, it was composed of a small, New York-based team of five volunteers and ten doctors, fighting to spread awareness around cancer—a taboo topic at the time. Today, it’s grown into a global network of scientists, researchers, doctors and volunteers, continuing to spread awareness while simultaneously saving lives and holding an authoritative position in the world of cancer research, development and patient support.
On this episode of the “Grow Wire Podcast,” we sat down with Rob King, the Chief Financial Officer for the American Cancer Society, to discuss the organization’s roots, its mission, and how it has managed to successfully thrive over the course of its 106-year journey.
King says one of the primary challenges the ACS faced in its early years was dismantling the notion that cancer was a taboo topic, unworthy of public discussion. He attributes this initial aversion to a certain level of discomfort stemming from a lack of knowledge about cancer and how it could be treated. The ACS set out to bring that knowledge forward and provide people with necessary, research-based information as well as provide patients with the support they needed.
Fast forward to 2019, and we’re much more knowledgeable about cancer. You’ll rarely come across a person who hasn’t been affected by the disease in some way, and thus, the conversation surrounding it is extremely public. King says the ACS’ current challenge is in adapting to the revolving communication streams around cancer—like social media—and continuing to remain an authority on the topic.
“Having to be nimble and change was not something we had to do until the ‘80s and then now, with having digital and social media platforms,” King explains. “[But] we are seen as the authority on cancer. It’s objective. It’s scientific based. It’s medical. And we have a responsibility to preserve that.”
One way the ACS maintains their authoritative role in cancer research and patient support is through transparency. For starters, while King says we’re more aware about cancer today than we were in 1913, there are still so many questions without answers. He also admits to ACS setting goals it hasn’t reached, and therefore, they’ve combined forces with other organizations and companies to continue progressing.
“We recognize that cancer is a big disease and a big set of diseases, and we can’t do it alone,” King says. “We’re going to do anything we can do to help solve the problem.”
In learning through the ACS journey, he advises business owners to utilize data for new avenues of success.
“Data is everything,” King explains, “Don’t be tied down by old systems, and don’t stop innovating.”
And as the data around cancer progresses, King says the ACS won’t stop innovating either.
Tune into the full podcast episode to find out how the American Cancer Society creates successful donor relationships, releases the fear of new ideas and utilizes technology to bolster the fight against cancer for a better future. Listen now on Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud and YouTube, and as always, don’t forget to rate, review and subscribe.