Over the years, October has become a marketing opportunity for companies that splash pink on their products, suggesting to consumers that they’re helping the breast cancer cause by buying these products. Unfortunately, most of the time very little of the money paid for these products actually goes to breast cancer-related charities. And some of the companies that make these products also produce toxic chemicals that may contribute to an increased risk of breast cancer, Breast Cancer Action explains in their Think Before You Pink project.
What to do instead? There are lots of great alternatives. There are many nonprofit organizations that provide valuable services for those affected by breast cancer or fund critical research. Donating directly to these organizations is a much better alternative to buying pink products.
Also, many local groups such as schools and sports clubs hold fundraisers to support deserving local breast cancer charities. Many of these groups are passionate about supporting the cause and participating in their fundraisers can be a good idea – just make sure you know where the money is going.
In this post, we’ll look at seven of the most highly rated national charities that serve those affected by breast cancer. Their services vary, but fall into the general categories of providing support to patients and families and engaging in or funding breast cancer research.
LBBC’s mission is “to connect people with trusted breast cancer information and a community of support.” The organization assists individuals at all stages of diagnosis, treatment and recovery through a variety of programs including a comprehensive website, a toll-free Helpline and conferences and webinars. LBBC has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator. 83% of its total expenses go to its programs.
FORCE focuses on “improving the lives of individuals and families affected by hereditary breast, ovarian, and related cancers.” It provides numerous online and local support resources including a peer navigation program, message boards, local outreach volunteers and a toll-free helpline, among others. FORCE is also active in advocacy, working on many issues affecting its community. FORCE has a 3-star rating from Charity Navigator. 74% of its total expenses go to its programs.
YSC works to address the unique needs of young adults affected by breast cancer. The organization was started over 20 years ago by a group of young women, all diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 40. YCS’s programs provide local networking groups, a vibrant online community, educational materials and a conference program dedicated to young adults with breast cancer. YSC has a 3-star rating from Charity Navigator. 78% of its total expenses go to its programs.
Engaging in or Funding Research
Formerly known as Breast Cancer Fund, BCPP works to prevent breast cancer by eliminating the public’s exposure to the environmental and other preventable causes of the disease. BCPP translates the growing body of scientific evidence linking breast cancer and environmental exposures into public education and advocacy campaigns to protect health and reduce breast cancer risk. BCPP has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator. 79% of its total expenses go to its programs.
BCRF says that its mission is “to prevent and cure breast cancer by advancing the world’s most promising research.” It seeks to carry out this mission by providing grants to researchers for studies that have the potential for rapid application in the clinic. BCRF has also established a separate Founders Fund, an international effort focused specifically on improving understanding of the biology of breast cancer metastasis. BCRF has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator. 88% of its total expenses go to its programs.
DSLRF has as its focus going beyond looking for a cure to identifying how breast cancer begins and how it can be prevented. One of its projects, the Army of Women, was established by Dr. Susan Love as a way to bring together women who are interested in participating in research studies with scientists working to figure out what causes breast cancer and how to prevent it. DSLRF has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator. 82% of its total expenses go to its programs.
METAvivor is dedicated to the specific fight of women and men living with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. The organization funds research to help improve the longevity and quality of life for metastatic breast cancer patients. In 2018, METAvivor awarded 23 research grants totaling $3.4 million. METAvivor has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator. 95% of its total expenses (and 100% of donations) go to its programs.
State and Local Breast Cancer Charities
Besides these national organizations, there are many state organizations that serve those affected by breast cancer, such as an organization here in Virginia that I volunteer with, the Virginia Breast Cancer Foundation. When you know an organization like this, donating to it will be greatly appreciated and can be a way to have an impact in your local area.
You can find basic information, including financial information, about any IRS-registered nonprofit at Guidestar. Many organizations include links to their IRS 990 reports on their websites.
So, this October, let’s leave the pink products on the shelves and support local fundraising efforts for breast cancer charities that do work we value or contribute directly to national organizations that will make effective use of our donations.
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