Customer Story: The American Cancer Society

Last Published: Jun 29, 2022 |
Monica Mullen
Monica Mullen

Director, Product Marketing 


I don’t think there is a single person—a friend, family member, neighbor, co-worker or our own selves—whose life hasn’t been, or will not be, touched by cancer. And cancer is a scary thing.

American Cancer Society

The word alone elicits fear, uncertainty, and loss. At the same time, many groups and organizations offer hope, strength, and resources to help the families and individuals diagnosed with cancer. The American Cancer Society (ACS) is one of those organizations.

Millions of people support ACS in a variety of ways. And these individuals may have one or many roles as they interact with the organization. A constituent or ‘customer’ may be a volunteer, donor, employee, patient, survivor, or caretaker—or any combination thereof. A volunteer may also be a donor and a cancer survivor, as an example. And as their relationship grows, each person reaching out to the ACS organization expects to be recognized and known. In short, it is critical that ACS understands the role of each person at any given point in time.

Addressing Generational Market Shifts by Modernizing the Back Office

Since they’re not immune from recent generational market shifts in how customers interact with businesses and organizations of all sizes, the ACS leadership team recognized that the quality of their data was holding them back from doing more. A central source of truth for data would not only help them maximize the value of every dollar they receive—it would allow them to remain relevant, enable them to be more responsive, and let them meet a growing and wide variety of constituent needs. From fundraising to fulfillment, everything needs to be in sync.

A key pain point was poor data quality. So, ACS began to modernize their core systems. Over a 3-year period, they replaced their back-office applications, which included their resource planning application with NetSuite and a highly customized 15-year-old CRM system with Salesforce.

As the IT team went through the design process for a new architecture, they inventoried the number of systems that integrated with Salesforce (and touched or maintained customer data). The total count: 42 separate systems, containing 80 million original records.

The Need for MDM

And although the original plan was to “drop MDM in later,” they decided—18 months into the 3-year architecture redesign project—to pause, because the project needed master data management. They selected Informatica MDM – Customer 360 and, following a 12-week implementation, they were able to successfully create a single, trusted view of their constituents, and reduced their existing customer records into 38 million trusted profiles that traverse roles.

Without MDM, the customer records would have remained fragmented, and the ACS would have failed in reaching their goal of gaining a complete understanding of a customer. Now, MDM helps the ACS track all aspects of activity with their constituents. They can determine donation history, the number of hours volunteered, the number of times someone has asked a type of question, as well as match an individual to information they have downloaded from the ACS website.

“MDM is the gold master for our customers and all other systems integrate to it to find the right person,” says Blake Sanders, CIO at American Cancer Society, who is leading the nonprofit’s technology transformation. “When a new contact is generated from a third-party site for fundraising or a new contact is reaching out to us at our National Cancer Information Center, we are able to determine in real time whether a match already exists and edit the record, instead of creating a new, duplicate record—which would have been merged later.”

Blake explains that MDM is critical for the services the ACS is now able to provide. For example, the contact data managed at the person level helps with the ACS Road to Recovery program. Road to Recovery provides rides to take a patient to a cancer treatment center, and back home again. This program’s success is reliant on the driver being able to trust the address and contact information given to them for the patient—which is delivered from the MDM system.

No one wants to be just a number or a statistic when learning about, helping someone, or being diagnosed with cancer. Today, MDM is in the center of everything ACS does; it doesn’t just manage and maintain CRM. MDM helps ACS recognize people as individuals across the organization. To learn more about Informatica’s MDM – Customer 360 solution and how it is helping organizations of all sizes with their unique needs, please read our eBook, Intelligent Disruptors: Meet the Experts Behind Customer 360 Initiatives.

The American Cancer Society’s mission is to save lives, celebrate lives, and lead the fight for a world without cancer.

About The American Cancer Society

Since 1913, the American Cancer Society has been dedicated to eliminating cancer in more than 5,000 communities around the globe. The nonprofit corporation offers services that include funding and conducting research, sharing expert information, supporting patients, and spreading the word about prevention. With an aim to help us all live better, longer lives, the Society has contributed to work that has resulted in a 27% drop in overall cancer death rate in the US since 1991.

In fulfilling their mission, ACS oversees a wide variety of activities which range from raising awareness, organizing promotions and events, offering rides and providing housing for patients undergoing treatment, operating call centers and websites, organizing volunteers, connecting researchers, providing grants, and more.

First Published: Sep 10, 2019