Sunday, 25 September 2011
The world of breast cancer fundraising is booming, taking in $6 billion a year in the name of awareness and research.
"But it's also been a boon for charity scammers... not just because there is so much money involved or because women across all income levels tend to give more than men, but because we give to breast cancer forcefully, eagerly, superstitiously. Breast cancer holds a peculiarly powerful sway with us — it's a disease dreaded so profoundly that not supporting the cause feels like tempting fate."
The scary part is, the money that is being diverted from research and being pocketed by scammers is delaying progress:
"Yet what many in the breast cancer community are loathe to admit, despite all these lifesaving developments, is that, in fact, we are really no closer to a cure today than we were two decades ago.... The fact is, thousands of people earn a handsome living extending their proverbial pink tin cups, baiting their benefactors with the promise of a cure, as if one were realistically in sight."
A less insidious explanation for why money doesn't go as far as it could is that a lot of charities are poorly run. Survivors and family members who are inexperienced in the non-profit world duplicate their efforts--and their costs--in their organizations, wasting money.
So what can be done?
"For anyone worried about where their donations are going, here's a useful tip: Skip the pink-ribbon merchandise. Because no one really owns the rights to what has become the universal symbol of breast cancer... peddling the logo has become a massive racket, overrun by slick profiteers exploiting the public's naive assumption that all pink purchases help the cause. Often they don't."
WHERE SHOULD YOU GIVE?
These well-regarded breast cancer organizations spend most of their funds on research and treatment:
- Breast Cancer Research Foundation
- Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
- The University of Texas, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
- Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
- The Johns Hopkins Avon Foundation Breast Center
For more tips about donating, and a comprehensive view of the profiteering that happens in the breast cancer donation world, see Marie Claire's excellent article here.
Is this a surprise to you? Have you had an experience where you donated money only to find out it wasn't being put to good use? Do you see any solutions to the problem?