by Dan Savage
on Mon, Oct 17, 2011 at 8:30 AM
That's fine. Just don't try to make a donation to the American Cancer Society. They don't want your money. Because everybody knows that science—cancer research in particular—doesn't work when the bills are being paid by people who don't believe in magic:
A few months ago, Todd Stiefel—philanthropist and founder of the Stiefel Freethought Foundation, which provides financial support to atheist and other nonprofit and charitable organizations—approached the American Cancer Society with an offer. He wanted local atheist groups around the world to participate in the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life program, as a national team, under the banner of the humanist charitable organization Foundation Beyond Belief. In order to make this happen, he made a generous offer: a $250,000 matching offer from the Todd Stiefel Foundation, which, as a matching offer, was likely to bring in a half million dollars to the American Cancer Society.
And he was stonewalled.
The offer was initially approved, and the Foundation Beyond Belief even brought on an intern to manage the program. But then the American Cancer Society stopped responding. Repeated emails and phone calls from Stiefel were not returned for over a month. And the eventual responses from the ACS ranged from apathetic at best to hostile at worst.... After many go-arounds, Stiefel was finally told no. He was told that the Relay for Life program was focusing on corporate sponsors for the National Team program, and was no longer including nonprofits in the program. Despite the massive size of the offer from the Stiefel Foundation—and despite the fact that several nonprofits are currently participating in the program, including Girl Scouts of the USA, Phi Theta Kappa and DeMolay International—the ACS insisted that nonprofit participation in this program wasn't cost-effective, and would no longer be welcome.