Chapter 10

Mobile in the Fight Against Cancer

Of course, passion powers many other entities, including nonprofits like the American Cancer Society (ACS), the largest voluntary health organization in the United States. Since 1914 the society has had a mission to save lives by helping people stay well, get well, find cures, and fight back.

When Miles Orkin decided to join ACS in 2002, he believed mobile would eventually play a large role in the organization’s community outreach and ability to engage with his constituencies the way they engage with each other.

“I believe technology is a tool that helps individuals at the right place and the right time communicate easily and effectively,” says Orkin, an early digital marketer who was the American Cancer Society’s national director of Web and mobile until early 2012. “Technology should help organizations communicate in the voice and through the channels that the consumer wants to hear them in. I learned that [when working] at Thrasher [a skateboarding magazine] by opening mail we received and then speaking in their voice. It allowed us to be on the leading edge.”

In 2002, ACS, like many nonprofits, had bureaucracy and slow change as barriers to technology adoption.

“There was no mobile role,” he says. “Mobile wasn’t relevant in 2002, but I came off of spending two years in Spain where mobile was on the radar. ACS had a website that was barely functional. They brought me in to add more digital expertise to the fund-raising effort. Five ...

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