The Kennewick office of the American Cancer Society ended its 25-year run in the Tri-Cities.
The nonprofit shuttered its doors at 7325 W. Deschutes Ave. on Dec. 8.
The closure was part of a larger regional downsizing to be more cost-effective, said Christina Kelly, a spokeswoman for the American Cancer Society.
“When you’re supposed to be a steward of donor dollars and with dwindling, smaller numbers and some of things we were doing, it made sense to economize,” she said. “We would be remiss or in some ways responsible if we didn’t do that.”
Three people worked in the Kennewick office. Two were laid off and one will continue to work remotely in the region.
The Kennewick location is among five office closures in the western region and the only closure in the state. Most of the others were in California, Kelly said.
The 104-year-old American Cancer Society isn’t abandoning the region, she said.
As more people search for information online and turn to digital resources at Cancer.org, the Kennewick office wasn’t utilized much, Kelly said.
“All the information nowadays is online. It didn’t make sense anymore,” she said.
The cancer society’s toll-free helpline, 800-227-2345 is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to help cancer patients and those seeking information, resources and support.
About 75 percent of the American Cancer Society’s budget goes to cancer research, patient support, prevention information and education, and detection and treatment. The remaining 25 percent is spent on management and general expenses and fundraising expenses.
The future of the Tri-Cities’ two major American Cancer Society fundraiser walks — Relay for Life and Making Strides Against Breast Cancer — isn’t certain as the agency re-evaluates how to best operate them.
The Relay for Life of Columbia River announced on its Facebook page that decisions about next year’s event have yet to be made, but if the event is to continue, it needs volunteer support.
“We need to look at how efficient can we be. We’ve already combined a couple of them in Central Washington because it made more sense,” Kelly said. “We’ve looked at this from an economic standpoint and we’re trying to be smart about how we spend our dollars. And when we put out a lot of money and that doesn’t have return on investment, it just doesn’t make sense.”
Kelly said the American Cancer Society is trying to figure out how to be smart stewards of the dollars. “Spending money to make less money doesn’t make sense to us anymore,” she said.
Nationwide, the Relay for Life walks have faced a decline in participation as well as donations.
Public support to the American Cancer Society in 2016 totaled $779 million, down $31 million compared to the prior year, primarily due to a steady decline in the participation of Relay for Life events, according to the nonprofit’s 2017 Financial Stewardship report.
Support from the public mostly comprises Relay for Life, Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, other special events, planned giving, contributed services and other in-kind contributions and general public contributions.
In 2016, the society implemented changes to the Relay for Life operating model, including merging or discontinuing underperforming events, rolling out a platform to help volunteers stay engaged and empowered and enhance the Relay experience and piloting alternative staffing models, according to the report.
The walks are big money makers for the American Cancer Society.
Relay for Life raised $258,000 million at 4,500 events in 2016. Making Strides raised $60 million in 2016 with 400,000 participants nationwide.
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