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The American Cancer Society takes a blended approach to training 3 million volunteers

The American Cancer Society (ACS) is a nationwide voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer. Established in 1913, the society is organized into eleven geographical divisions of both medical and lay volunteers operating in more than 900 offices throughout the United States. Its home office is located in the American Cancer Society Centerin Atlanta, Georgia. The ACS publishes the journals Cancer, CA: A Cancer Journal For Clinicians and Cancer Cytopathology.

The Challenge

For more than 100 years American Cancer Society (ACS) has worked to save lives and create a world with less cancer. At the core of achieving ACS’s mission are more than 3 million volunteers. These generous individuals work directly with patients and families, organize events, fund-raise and much, much more.

One of ACS’ key challenges is how to provide consistent and effective training and support to volunteers who range from high schoolers to retirees. With more than 3 million volunteers, ACS needed to make training more accessible and consistent. They decided eLearning and webinars would be a key part of their strategy and an easy-to-use, robust learning portal was at the center of it.


The Solution

After an extensive search, ACS chose Totara Learn as its learning portal solution. Steve Harris, Senior Consultant, Learning Technologies at ACS, responded when asked about the decision to use Totara said:

It’s a system which includes all the standard LMS functionality, as well as being easy to use, easy to implement, fairly easy to support, very stable, and cost effective.

ACS particularly valued the ability to brand and configure the LMS with its own logos and recognizable look and feel. The ACS team worked with Kineo to design a clean and easy-to-use interface based on the branding on its own website. By doing this, they achieved their number one goal of creating a site their volunteers would respond positively to and feel comfortable using.


Before going live with its new LMS, the ACS team conducted a series of pilots with volunteers to make sure they had the right solution. Pilot participants gave Totara an average score of 3.7/4.0 when rating the system on usability, and look and feel. As Harris put it, “Volunteer feedback has been over-the-top positive.”. Mission accomplished!

Whilst the roll-out is still on-going, ACS is already utilizing its LMS to deliver a blended solution to its volunteers for two of its cornerstone programs, Relay for Life and Road to Recovery.

These programs are driven by volunteers giving up their time to co-ordinate efforts for cancer patients, their families and fundraisers doing their bit for the cause. The eLearning helps save their precious time during their training. And the LMS has created a user friendly path through the experience.

With now over 49 eLearning and Webinar offerings, ACS volunteers are obtaining consistent training for our Programs and Events. The LMS, Totara Learn, has been very stable, we get good response from our user on the ‘ease of use’ to find learning content. We utilize Kineo’s Tech Support, although we’ve had very few issues, our questions for advice are answered quickly – very impressive

Steve Harris, American Cancer Society
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