Alzheimer’s Association

To eliminate Alzheimer's disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health.

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$352M

Annual Revenue

77%

Spent On Programs

<1%

CEO Compensation

Advocacy

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Awareness

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Direct Service

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Private Sector Collaboration

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Policy Legislation

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Research

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Financials

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Management

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About the Alzheimer’s Association

When the Alzheimer’s Association was incorporated back in 1980, very little Alzheimer’s research was available, and support groups for both those suffering from the disease and their family members were basically non-existent. Making it their mission to jump-start Alzheimer’s research funding, a group of physicians, researchers, and caregivers came together to form the Alzheimer’s Association. The Association has grown into the largest non-profit funder of Alzheimer’s disease research.

In 2010, the Alzheimer’s Association established a partner advocacy organization named the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement (AIM). AIM seeks to make the fight against Alzheimer’s an important issue. They support policies that increase funding for research, improve current care and support options, and advance methods designed for decreasing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

In addition to research and advocacy efforts, the Association works hard to generate awareness of the disease and its effect on people and society. They also provide a plethora of resources for those suffering from the disease and their caretakers, enabling them to better understand the disease and how to better manage their symptoms.


Why We Chose to Feature This Organization

We’ve seen first-hand the devastation that Alzheimer’s can cause, as Alexa’s grandfather has suffered from the disease for years. He has been in numerous care facilities, and the disease has caused him to lose his ability to walk and to talk. The disease is incredibly hard on individuals, their families, and their caretakers. Care facilities are expensive, causing families to spend their life savings on care for their loved one. Caregivers who work with Alzheimer’s patients are often underpaid and overworked. The disease costs taxpayers billions of dollars, and by 2050, it will be in the trillions. Alzheimer’s has no means of prevention, no cure, and no drugs available for treatment. Given the rapidly aging population and the fact that the majority of people with the disease are over 65, we need to start aggressively fighting Alzheimer’s disease.

We were torn between a few different organizations who focus on Alzheimer’s, but we chose the Alzheimer’s Association due to the sheer amount of work that they do for the cause. Not only do they fund research, they also provide patients and caregivers with exceptional resources, they are incredibly successful at raising awareness, and they actively advocate for better policies and care. We could write a book about all of the work they’ve done for Alzheimer’s, but for this report, we will focus on their advocacy and awareness efforts. 

Awareness

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Financials

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Management

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The Association is active in advocating for better policies and increased funding for Alzheimer’s research and care. Their advocacy arm, the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement (AIM) has seen many successes, including historic budget increases and implementations of numerous new policies. In addition to advocating directly, they provide numerous resources for those wishing to advocate locally, empowering individuals who have a strong desire to join the fight against Alzheimer’s.

For years, AIM has relentlessly fought for increased funding for Alzheimer’s research. With the disease already affecting more than 5 million Americans and a population boom in older adults on the horizon, increased funding to understand and treat Alzheimer’s is crucial to our nation’s economic livelihood. Out of the top 10 causes of death in the United States, Alzheimer’s is the only one that cannot be prevented, cured, or slowed. Without any sort of prevention methods or cures, costs to care for those with Alzheimer’s will skyrocket. In 2017 alone, Alzheimer’s cost the United States $259 billion, and this cost is expected to exceed $1 trillion by 2050.

Thanks to their efforts, a historic $400 million increase for Alzheimer’s research at the National Institutes of Health for fiscal year 2017 was approved by Congress and signed into law by the President. This increase represents a nearly threefold increase from the past five years, proving that society and policymakers alike are taking Alzheimer’s seriously.

In addition to increased funding for research, the Association played a significant role in the passage of the 21st Century Cures Act. This act will accelerate medical research relating to discovering, developing, and delivering new treatments and cures for Alzheimer’s and other serious diseases. This act incorporated tenants of the “Ensuring Useful Research Expenditures is Key for Alzheimer’s act”, an act developed to advance research breakthroughs for Alzheimer’s and encourage public-private partnerships. The Association supported this act since its inception, and having it included in the 21st Century Cures Act was a major success for Alzheimer’s research funding.  

In order to garner support for a cause, people must be well-informed and aware of the issues at hand. The Alzheimer’s Association is the leading organization for generating awareness of Alzheimer’s disease. From celebrity spokespersons to nationwide events such as the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, they have helped make Alzheimer’s disease well-known, disproved common myths about who develops the disease and when, and has increased feelings of concern and empathy towards those living with the disease. The Association employs a mixture of events, media campaigns, initiatives, alliances and associations, and collaborations with celebrities and big-name brands to raise awareness. We will discuss a few recent successful initiatives below.  

Event: Walk to End Alzheimer’s

Held annually in over 600 communities across the United States, the Walk to End Alzheimer’s is the world’s largest event aimed at raising funds and awareness for the fight against Alzheimer’s. The event grows each year, with the 2017 walk raising over $83 million, a 6% increase from 2016. Last year’s walk event saw over 500,000 people participate.

People interested in participating can search for walks near them on the Association’s website. Once registered, participants start to fundraise for the event. The Association provides participants with a personal fundraising page which enables participants to share their story and reasons for participating in the walk as well as directly solicit donations. They are encouraged to share their page with friends, families, and coworkers via email and social media. The funds raised from this event help benefit the Association’s mission and programs, including their research, care, and support efforts. In order to increase participation and thank those who dedicated their time to the event, the Association offers incentive prizes based on total amounts raised. Prizes include portable power banks, glass water bottles, tote bags, Under Armour jackets, Fitbits, and Bose headphones.

The Walk to End Alzheimer’s has proven to be a hugely successful peer-to-peer fundraising program and has been recognized as such on the “Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Top Thirty List”, a benchmark study ranking similar programs in various non-profits across the United States. In 2017, the walk was placed #5, up four spots from #9 in 2016.

Initiative and Media Campaign: My Brain, Still Alice, and The Women of Still Alice

In 2014, the film “Still Alice” depicted the story of a university professor’s diagnosis of younger-onset Alzheimer’s. The Association worked closely with the film’s producers, connecting them with scientists, care experts, and people with the disease as well as their family members to ensure that the film depicted a realistic portrayal of the disease. The film was critically and commercially acclaimed, winning many awards (including the Academy Award for Best Actress for Julianne Moore’s performance as Alice) and grossing over $40 million in box offices worldwide.

To accompany the film, the Association created “The Women of ‘Still Alice’”, a feature of their My Brain initiative. The My Brain initiative was created to bring women together to raise awareness of the impact of Alzheimer’s on our health, our families, and our society, and to influence policymakers to increase funding for research and care. “The Women of ‘Still Alice’” include Maria Shriver, Kristen Stewart, Julianne Moore, and doctors who specialize in Alzheimer’s. In addition to providing consulting for the film, they produced a short 2 minute video explaining important statistics that dispel common myths about Alzheimer’s. A print ad celebrating the women and their work to inspire action and generate awareness of the disease was featured in numerous publications including The New York Times, Variety, and Entertainment Weekly. This campaign and corresponding initiative helped bring the topic of Alzheimer’s to the forefront of national conversations.

Brand Collaboration: Chicken Soup for the Soul

Chicken Soup for the Soul is a publishing and media company most famous for their book series of the same name. The books consist of inspirational true stories from ordinary people. The books were a nationwide phenomenon and remained on the New York Times Best Seller list for four consecutive years (1994-1998). In 2014, the Association partnered with Chicken Soup for the Soul to produce “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living with Alzheimer’s & Other Dementias”. This book included stories from people living with the disease, their family and friends, and caregivers who are on the front line of battling Alzheimer’s. The book also included contributions from various celebrities, further helping raise awareness of the disease. The book was a massive success, selling out on Amazon within 24 hours of its release. In addition to raising awareness, the royalties from the sales of the book benefitted the Association, helping them fund their fight against Alzheimer’s.

Management

Alzheimer’s Association

Harry Johns

President & CEO

Experience and Education
  • Executive Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at the American Cancer Society
  • Master of Business Administration from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University
  • Bachelor’s degree from Eckerd College
Compensation
$857,000

Alzheimer’s Association

Richard Hovland

Chief Operations Officer and Chief Financial Officer

Experience and Education
  • Vice President and Chief Financial Officer at the American College of Healthcare
  • Master of Business Administration in Finance from DePaul University
  • Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Finance from Northern Illinois University
Compensation
$517,000

Alzheimer’s Association

Maria Carrillo

Chief Science Officer

Experience and Education
  • Senior Director and Vice President of Medical & Scientific Relations at the Alzheimer’s Association
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Neuroscience from Northwestern University
  • Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Compensation
$421,000

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