Where Does Thon Money Go
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Dancing for a cure, THON has been a staple of Penn State University for about 45 years, raising hundreds of millions of dollars for childhood cancer since 1973. The annual IFC Panhellenic dance marathon aims to add to that total by tens of millions every year. But how much of that donated money gets into the hands of actual cancer patients and what percentage goes toward the overall causing of pediatric cancer? "There's always a lot of questions, Where does the money go, and where is it being spent, really, in a way that is appropriate." We want to be as transparent as possible." Each year, THON's finance committee creates a public summary of fundraising activities. The summary breaks down donation allocation into four categories: charitable contributions, event costs, administrative costs and development costs. Over the past eight years, THON reports that the organization has donated at least 92.4 cents of every dollar directly to Four Diamonds and pediatric cancer. Some years have a higher donation rate than others. For example, in 2016, THON reports that 95.56 cents of every donation dollar was given to charity. "We are very, very deliberate with any purchase we make that comes out of our operating budget because ultimately, that is money that could have gone to Four Diamonds and helped with covering that patient care cost." Four Diamonds is the sole charitable recipient of THON's donation dollars, meaning whatever is allocated to charity goes to them. Once THON hands over the money, it's Four Diamonds responsibility to get it into the hands of families and children touched by cancer. "How do we make sure that we are covering the cost of care, That's the first thing that is funded every year." Whatever funds are left over after patient care costs are covered goes to other things to help fight childhood cancer. "We are helping to provide resources to the medical team, to the researchers and to specialty care providers." One other question remains: Who is responsible for making sure those areas are exactly where the donations end up? The answer is a little complicated. "The type of tax-exempt organization that we are does not require us to have an external public audit, like a 501-3C, or an organization that falls under that piece of the tax code would have to do." Four Diamonds and THON fall under Penn State's tax umbrella, which falls under different laws than your typical non profit charity. "However, the university does do an external audit of all dollars that flow in and out of the university at the top level. Four Diamonds is subject to being part of that audit every year." Four Diamonds is also subject to the hospital's audit. "On the back end, where the dollars are being spent at the hospital, likewise, there's a public audit of those funds." Ultimately, most of THON's donation money will end up in the hands of a family dealing with cancer treatment. Isabella Messina was diagnosed with leukemia when she was less than two years old. "We were referred to the Hershey medical center and were involved with Four Diamonds immediately at that time, There really wasn't much of a process to it. Once she was diagnosed as an oncology patient and once she was diagnosed with cancer, she qualified." Isabella underwent months of chemotherapy, but relapsed four and half years later and needed a bone marrow transplant. The family was in and out of the hospital constantly even staying in an apartment in the area because they had to stay close to emergency care. According to the Messina's, they never saw a bill. "The process is so seamless. I mean, we're talking years really there were really no out of pocket expenses, I think Four Diamonds is unique in that when they say 90 percent of that dollar is going to end up benefiting the family, it's going to."