When youre considering making a donation, make sure you think about where your money is going. Watchdogs like the American Institute of Philanthropy and Charity Navigator can help you figure out how your charity of choice measures up. In general, you should look for a group with a high level of spending on program expenses, meaning that the organization devotes a large percentage of its budget to the programs and services it claims to provide. A good rule of thumb is to look for organizations that spend at least 75% of their budgets on program expenses; anything below 33% suggests that an organization is not living up to its mission, according to Charity Navigator. You should also look for an association with as little money as possible going to administrative expenses, ideally less than 15%, which includes overhead costs (like rent and utilities) as well as money to hire and compensate employees.
Picking a breast cancer charity to donate to can mean sifting through hundreds of options. You can narrow your search by deciding where you want your money to go—whether its education, outreach, awareness, or treatment. Here, we look at a range of charities—from large to small, national to local—that focus on funding research, the crucial component of the search for a cure for breast cancer.
Susan G. Komen for the Cure
The woman behind the name: Just before Susan G. Komen lost her three-year battle with breast cancer, her sister Nancy G. Brinker promised to do everything she could to end the disease forever. In 1982, Brinker started this organization.
Where the money comes from: Proceeds come from a variety of fund-raising events, such as Race for the Cure, the Breast Cancer 3-Day walk, programs with companies like New Balance and BMW, and contributions from individual supporters.
Where the money goes: It's spent on education, fund-raising, treatment, and screening, as well as research, which the organization says comprised 28% of total spending for 2006–2007. Administrative costs accounted for 8% of spending. Overall, the organization says that 85% of spending in 2006–2007 went to program activities. In 2007, more than $2 million was granted to the American Association for Cancer Research to enhance public understanding of breast cancer prevention research. Funding also supports the American Society of Clinical Oncologys research to improve the quality of breast cancer care.
Other ways to get involved:
The Breast Cancer Research Foundation
Where the money comes from: With help from individuals, as well as corporate partners such as Ann Taylor and the Estée Lauder Companies, more than $220 million has been raised since the BCRF's inception in 1993.
Where the money goes: It supports research that focuses on discovering new treatments, giving patients the right medicines, and assessing and minimizing risks in the hope of finding a cure and a method of prevention for breast cancer. The organization says that for each dollar donated, a minimum of 85 cents goes to research and awareness programs.
Fun fact: The BCRF is the only breast cancer organization with an A+ rating from the American Institute of Philanthropy.
Other ways to get involved:
- Get your game on at a sporting event organized by Play for P.I.N.K., where 100% of the proceeds go directly to the BCRF.
- Shop for jewelry, beauty products, fitness gear, and more through the Shop Pink catalog, which benefits the BCRF.
- Or fly Delta!
Gateway for Cancer Research Breast Cancer Charity
Where the money comes from: Proceeds come from individual donations, as well as special fund-raising events.
Where the money goes: Gateway's Breast Cancer Charity funds research only, so no money is used for education, outreach, or awareness programs. Funding favors research that will immediately impact the lives of patients, rather than research with long-term prospects. It's also open to research that mixes traditional treatment methods with complementary medicines.
Fun fact: For every dollar donated, Gateway says 99 cents goes directly to research programs.
Other ways to get involved: Organize your own fund-raising event.
Avon Foundation Breast Cancer Crusade
Where the money comes from: From 1992 to 2006, the Crusade raised more than $450 million. A major source of income is the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, which raised roughly $150 million from 2003 to 2006.
Where the money goes: In 2007, the Avon Foundation awarded more than $43 million in grants to organizations and medical centers for breast cancer awareness, education, screening and diagnosis, access to treatment, support services, and research. More than $13 million of that went to breast cancer research in the search for a cure. About 22% of Avon Foundation expenditures in 2007 went to fund-raising and administration expenses.
Fun fact: The U.S. Breast Cancer Crusade is Avons biggest breast cancer program, but the program started in the U.K. and has branches in 50 countries worldwide.
Other ways to get involved: Find an Avon Walk near you.
American Cancer Society
Where the money comes from: Every year, the ACS holds noncompetitive walks called Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, which raise money for breast cancer awareness and research. Since 1993, about four million participants have raised more than $280 million. The 2007 event alone raised more than $50 million.
Where the money goes: Proceeds fund cutting-edge research. The ACS supported research that contributed to discoveries of new treatments like tamoxifen and Herceptin, and it helped establish the mammogram as the cornerstone of breast cancer screening. Since 1972, the ACS has invested almost $352 million in breast cancer research.
National Breast Cancer Foundation
Where the money comes from: Corporate partners, celebrity spokespeople, and individuals donate and help raise money. Funds also come from special programs like the Casual Up for Breast Cancer office fund-raisers, and the Pink Ribbon Challenge, a promotion involving radio stations.
Where the money goes: While its main goal is fostering awareness about early detection, the NBCF does fund some research at the Cleveland Clinic, the Mayo Foundation, and the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.
Fun fact: More than 100 music celebrities, such as Bon Jovi, have donated autographed memorabilia, recorded public service announcements, and promoted fund-raising events.
Other ways to get involved:
Entertainment Industry Foundations Womens Cancer Programs
Where the money comes from: A significant chunk of change comes from a partnership with Lee Jeans to sponsor Lee National Denim Day. The event, held every October, has raised more than $70 million in 12 years.
Where the money goes: Proceeds fund research to create more effective and less toxic treatments for breast cancer, as well as the development of a blood test for early detection.
Fun fact: Celebrity couples Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw and Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson helped establish the Entertainment Industry Foundations Womens Cancer Research Fund.
Other ways to get involved: Make a donation or participate in Lee National Denim Day.
Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund
The woman behind the name: Carol M. Baldwins children—Alec, Daniel, William, Stephen, ever heard of them?—are accustomed to being in the spotlight. Carol joined them in 1996 when she founded this breast cancer research fund after her own battle with the disease culminated in a double mastectomy.
Where the money comes from: Individuals, corporate sponsors, and local merchants on Long Island, N.Y., hold fund-raising events. The Fund also depends on individual donations and the proceeds from the sale of pink ribbons in local businesses.
Where the money goes: Proceeds benefit individual researchers working to find a cure for breast cancer. Since it was established in 1996, the Fund says it has awarded 57 research grants for a total exceeding $3 million.
Other ways to get involved: Keep track of upcoming events.
Nancy R. Gelman Foundation
The woman behind the name: In 2001, Nancy R. Gelman lost a 10-year battle with breast cancer after multiple recurrences and three bouts of chemotherapy. Her husband and sons started the Foundation shortly after her death.
Where the money comes from: Proceeds come from individual donations and a small variety of fund-raising events, including Family Fitness Walk/Runs and college sporting events.
Where the money goes: Funds benefit research into new therapies to increase survival rates and cure breast cancer, and attempts to streamline the development process for new treatments. One effort in particular is to raise participation in clinical trials at the John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey.
Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research
The woman behind the name: Stefanie Spielman found her own breast cancer in 1998 during a breast self-exam. She has since survived four bouts with cancer. She started this fund along with her husband, former NFL linebacker Chris Spielman, in the belief that “research is the key to eliminating” breast cancer.
Where the money comes from: Since 1999, more than $5 million has been raised via individual donors, fund-raising events, and partnerships with businesses.
Where the money goes: Proceeds fund research to fight breast cancer at the James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute, part of the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center.