Our unique operating model

Unlike other hospitals, the majority of funding for St. Jude comes from generous donors.

We're dedicated to providing the best care for our patients

To do that, we need to be at the cutting-edge of the latest medicine and research in fighting life-threatening pediatric diseases such as cancer, all while freeing families from the biggest burden in getting life-saving healthcare: the cost.

Why funding matters, and where it comes from

Unlike other hospitals, the majority of funding for St. Jude comes from generous donors. It costs $2.6 million per day to operate St. Jude, and public contributions provide more than 75 percent of the funds necessary to operate the hospital.

Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food. While we accept insurance, many services provided by St. Jude have never been covered by insurance, and will not be in the future. In fact, only 14% of the money to operate the hospital comes from insurance recoveries and 9% comes from grants. This is vastly different than most other hospitals that can generate 90-95% of their revenues from insurance recoveries and other sources. And it's a different financial and operating model than large grant-making charities.

Our responsibility to our patients

The kids who come to St. Jude are suffering from life-threatening childhood illnesses such as cancer and sickle cell disease, and many of our treatment protocols require care that can last for years. For example, the most common form of childhood cancer, acute lymphoblastic leukemia, can cost about $300,000 to treat over a two to three year treatment plan. But at St. Jude, we often take the sickest patients and tailor treatment plans for their individual needs. In some cases, costs can exceed several million dollars for a single patient’s treatment. When we begin treating a child, we have a responsibility to ensure that we will be able to complete that treatment and care for that child for as long as they need us. 

This is critical for the more than 7,500 patients we see each year, and we follow all patients for 10 years or more after active treatment ends as part of The St. Jude LIFE & After Completion of Therapy Clinic Presented by Kmart. Our After Completion of Therapy (ACT) program is the largest long-term follow-up clinic for childhood cancer patients in the U.S. As a global leader in research and care for childhood cancer survivors, we’re studying more than 5,000 survivors through the St. Jude LIFE research study. We know it is vital to understand and address their unique health needs in order to improve quality of life for the nearly 500,000 childhood cancer survivors in the U.S. as well as those around the world.

Planning for the needs of today and tomorrow

As a children's research hospital, St. Jude must be able to provide lifesaving care to patients regardless of economic fluctuations, and this necessitates we maintain a reserve fund. At the core of our mission is our ability to research and treat life-threatening childhood diseases for the patients who come through our doors today as well as the children who will need us in the future. The reserve fund consists of restricted funds that we cannot use and are legally required to maintain in perpetuity according to donor stipulations, and unrestricted funds that we could use in times of economic stress to ensure we can meet the hospital's operating costs. 

The availability of these funds allowed us to embark on the Pediatric Cancer Genome Project, a collaboration between St. Jude and Washington University in St. Louis. This is one of our most ambitious research efforts to date which began during the heart of the economic downturn because we know that this initiative to sequence the pediatric cancer genome will forever change our understanding, diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

And St. Jude has a bold vision for saving the lives of children in the U.S. and around the world who are battling cancer and other life-threatening diseases. We will invest several billion dollars in the coming years to treat even more patients at St. Jude, increase the number of patients enrolled in St. Jude clinical trials across the U.S. and around the world and expand our global efforts, all in order to accelerate global progress in the fight against childhood cancer.

What we've accomplished with your support

St. Jude is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Treatments invented at St. Jude have helped push the overall survival rate for childhood cancer from 20% when the hospital opened in 1962 to more than 80% today. In addition, St. Jude has achieved a 94% survival rate for ALL, up from 4% in 1962, and the survival rate for medulloblastoma, a type of brain tumor, increased from 10 percent to 85% today.

St. Jude was the first institution to develop a cure for sickle cell disease with a bone marrow transplant and has one of the largest pediatric sickle cell programs in the country. And we freely share our breakthroughs so that one child saved at St. Jude means doctors and scientists in communities everywhere can use that knowledge to save more children.


Contact us at annual.report@stjude.org or see our financial statements for more information, and learn more about why you should support St. Jude.