What are the best cancer research charities? It’s a frequently asked question among those of us affected by cancer who would like to make a donation for cancer research. It’s an important one and the answers aren’t necessarily obvious.
There are many nonprofit organizations that fund cancer research as a part of their mission, along with other goals. But there are actually relatively few that focus mostly or entirely on research.
In an earlier post, I wrote about identifying nonprofits that focus primarily on cancer research. The Hope Foundation is one of those organizations. And it’s an interesting one to know about if you’d like to directly support clinical trials research.
The Organization’s History
The Hope Foundation is the public charity for the SWOG Cancer Research Network (SWOG).
Formerly known as the Southwest Oncology Group, SWOG was established in 1956 and is a National Cancer Institute-supported network of cancer research institutions.
SWOG member institutions include 32 of the NCI-designated cancer centers, many leading university medical centers, private institutions, and Community Clinical Oncology Programs.
SWOG’s mission is to improve the practice of medicine in preventing, detecting, and treating cancer, and to enhance the quality of life for cancer survivors.
In 1998, the Southwest Oncology Group Foundation was renamed The Hope Foundation. By 2016, The Hope Foundation had provided more that $30 million in research support to SWOG.
The Organization’s Approach
In partnership with SWOG, The Hope Foundation currently provides about $7 million annually toward oncology research in lung, breast, gastrointestinal and prostate cancers, as well as melanoma, leukemia and other types of cancer.
Funding provided by The Hope Foundation for SWOG clinical trials research includes grants, fellowships, professional medical education training sessions, technical equipment and meeting coordination.
SWOG includes patient advocates in all aspects of clinical trial design and development to ensure that the concerns of patients are addressed and that patients understand the risks and benefits of joining a trial. Also involved are SWOG’s community patient advocates, who advise on connecting with the communities, such as African Americans, or military veterans, that they represent.
Major Program Areas, Expenses and Funding
(Source for financial data: The Hope Foundation’s IRS Form 990)
The Hope Foundation reported about $9 million in revenues for fiscal year 2019. Its income is from a combination of contributions and grants ($4.8 million), program services it provides and investment income.
Of the Hope Foundation’s total expenses, about 88% were spent on its programs and services and 11% were spent on administrative expenses.
The organization receives the major portion of it contributions (about 85%) from public support through the National Cancer Institute, with the remainder coming from individual donations.
Ratings from the Charity Watchdogs
These are the most recent ratings the Hope Foundation has received from charity rating agencies:
- Charity Navigator: 4 stars (highest rating)
- GuideStar: Silver Seal of Transparency
Results: What Does the Organization Report?
The Hope Foundation says that this year SWOG expects to enroll about 5,000 patients in cancer treatment clinical trials, and that about 30,000 patients will be treated as part of almost 100 ongoing SWOG trials.
Results of SWOG trials are reported often at major medical conferences and published in leading medical journals. Significant new drugs for lung cancer, ovarian cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer and leukemia have received FDA approval based on the results from clinical trials conducted by SWOG.
Members of the SWOG research network presented results of five network-let studies at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium in December 2020.
One of those studies was the RxPONDER clinical trial, which found that many post-menopausal women with hormone receptor-positive early stage breast cancer do not need chemotherapy, even if they have one to three positive lymph nodes. I wrote about the RxPONDER findings in this post on highlights from the 2020 San Antonio Symposium.
For More Information
Here are two additional articles worth checking out to learn more about the Hope Foundation, SWOG and some recent initiatives.
- A Hope Foundation-funded study examined clinical trial participation by adult cancer patients. The study revealed that, when offered the opportunity to participate, 55% of all adult cancer patients, regardless of race or ethnicity, agreed to join a clinical trial, refuting the notion that patients choosing not to participate is the main reason behind low levels of participation in clinical trials.
- An article on the SWOG website discusses a series of initiatives that are being rolled out in 2021 to increase diversity and reduce health disparities among racial and ethnic minorities, members of the LGBTQ+ community, the very young and the very old, rural residents, and other underrepresented groups.
Supporting Breast Cancer Charities: A Better Way
Making a Difference: Contributing to Cancer Charities
Charity Review: Stand Up To Cancer
Charity Review: Cancer Research Institute
Charity Review: Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation
Charity Review: Breast Cancer Research Foundation
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