Breast cancer research is a multi-billion dollar industry. It makes up one of the largest research areas for federal funding — nearly
On top of all the federal funding, billions more come in every year from the nonprofit sector.
Though breast cancer receives the most attention every October during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, charities and nonprofits work year-round to raise funds for the prevention, treatment, and cure of the disease. They also provide much-needed support services for patients and caregivers. Donations are accepted at any time.
The success of fundraising efforts for breast cancer research has a downside, though. The sheer volume of options for donating — and the ubiquity of pink ribbons, pink-packaged products, and special pink-bedazzled fundraising walks and events — can make it daunting to decide where your charitable dollars can have the most impact.
If you’re planning on donating, whether it’s a one-time pledge or a recurring contribution, we’ve compiled a list of organizations to help get you started.
And if you already have a charity in mind but want to do a bit more research into how your donation will be used, we’ve also rounded up a few best practices to find out if an organization is reputable.
Many breast cancer research charities aim to discover new forms of treatment, identify effective methods of prevention, and find a cure. More than awareness, these organizations focus on lifesaving research and allocating resources to finding medical breakthroughs.
Breast Cancer Research Foundation
The Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) is a nonprofit committed to prevention strategies and achieving a cure for breast cancer. BCRF provides funding for cancer research worldwide to fuel advances in tumor biology, genetics, prevention, treatment, metastasis, and survivorship.
According to Charity Navigator, BCRF puts about 87% of its funds toward programs and services and less than 4% is spent on administrative costs.
Lynn Sage Cancer Research Foundation
The Lynn Sage Cancer Research Foundation is a charity for breast cancer research and education. The organization’s mission is to support the understanding, research, and treatment of breast cancer in partnership with Chicago’s Northwestern Memorial Hospital and the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University.
Since its inception, the foundation says it has raised more than $40 million for breast cancer research.
According to the Charity Navigator, the Lynn Sage Cancer Research Foundation puts about 74% of its funds toward programs and services, and about 15% is spent on administrative costs.
Gateway for Cancer Research
The mission of Gateway for Cancer Research is to “fund meaningful and breakthrough clinical trials worldwide that help people living with cancer to feel better, live longer, and conquer cancer.” Gateway says 99 cents of every dollar received directly funds cancer clinical trials.
Charitable watchdog Charity Navigator confirms these estimates, noting that the Gateway for Cancer Research spends about 99% of its budget on programs and services and less than 1% on administrative costs.
Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation
The Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation uses education and advocacy to help improve the lives of those living with or at risk of developing breast cancer. The foundation also focuses on collaborative research with nontraditional partners in search of groundbreaking results.
Charity Navigator notes that the foundation spends about 80% of its budget on programs and services and around 9% on administrative costs.
National Breast Cancer Coalition
To refocus global efforts on ending breast cancer and saving lives, the National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC) set a goal of ending breast cancer by 2020. While this goal wasn’t reached, the organization says they did succeed in raising more than $4 billion in new breast cancer research funding.
Charity Navigator reports that NBCC spends about 83% of the funds it raises on programs and services and less than 6% on administrative costs.
Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund, Inc.
The Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund, Inc. supports both new and established researchers. These experts are working toward discovering the causes of breast cancer, in addition to prevention and treatment options.
Their research looks at various factors of the disease, including genetic, molecular, cellular, and environmental. The fund states that it has, to date, awarded more than $5 million in research grants for breast cancer research.
According to Charity Navigator, the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund spends about 73% of funds raised on programs and services and 18% on administrative costs.
Breast Cancer Alliance
The mission of the Breast Cancer Alliance (BCA) is to “improve survival rates and quality of life for those impacted by breast cancer through better prevention, early detection, treatment, and cure.”
BCA funds four types of grants annually: exceptional project grants, young investigator grants, breast surgery fellowships, and education and outreach grants. The fund says it’s awarded $15 million to research in areas including metastasis, triple-negative breast cancer, and immunotherapy.
Charity Navigator reports that BCA spends about 82% of the funds it raises on programs and services and 10% on administrative costs.
Susan G. Komen Organization
Founded in 1980, the Susan G. Komen organization says they’ve invested over $3.3 billion into research, community outreach, breast cancer advocacy, and public policy initiatives in more than 60 countries around the world.
Their stated mission is “to save lives by meeting the most critical needs in our communities and investing in breakthrough research to prevent and cure breast cancer.”
According to the charity watchdog Charity Navigator, the Susan G. Komen organization directs approximately 77% of its funds toward the programs and services it provides.
Charities — both at the local and national levels — provide needed resources to individuals and families affected by breast cancer, while offering services like support groups, financial assistance, and guidance on treatment options.
Breast Cancer Emergency Fund
The Breast Cancer Emergency Fund is an organization based in the San Francisco Bay Area. They’re dedicated to providing emergency financial assistance to low-income women and men with breast cancer.
The fund gifts most of its collections — 59% — to individuals, but divvies up the rest:
- 15% goes to breast cancer foundations
- 22% is given to breast cancer organizations
- 4% is reinvested in the fund
CancerCare, founded in 1944, aims to help people cope with a number of challenges associated with breast cancer — emotional, practical, and financial — by providing free professional support services and information.
CancerCare reports that they’ve provided $76.4 million in financial assistance to nearly 31,000 people to help with treatment-related costs such as transportation, home care, child care, and co-payment assistance.
Breast Cancer Angels
The mission of Breast Cancer Angels is to provide financial and emotional assistance for individuals and their families as they go through breast cancer treatment.
Services are available in Southern California, including Orange County, Long Beach/South Bay, and San Diego. All donations go directly to supporting clients and their families.
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Though the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Massachusetts focuses on various types of cancer, they do run a specific program that works with individuals who have received a breast cancer diagnosis.
The Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber offers those with breast cancer various treatment options, which include “the latest medical oncology and surgical options,” in addition to breast reconstruction and radiation therapy.
The Rose is the leading nonprofit breast healthcare organization in southeast Texas. Its board certified radiologists, specialized technical staff, two mammography and diagnostic imaging centers, and a fleet of mobile mammography vans offer advanced breast cancer screening, diagnostic services, and access to treatment to more than 40,000 women annually.
Since its launch in 1986, The Rose has provided services to half a million women.
SHARE Cancer Support
SHARE is a national nonprofit that supports, educates, and empowers women affected by breast or ovarian cancer. It places a special focus on medically underserved communities. Its mission is to create and sustain a supportive community of women affected by breast or ovarian cancer.
All of SHARE’s services are free of charge and they include support groups, educational tools, and clinical trial assistance.
The mission of Breastcancer.org is to provide the most reliable, complete, and up-to-date information about breast cancer.
This nonprofit looks to help those diagnosed with the disease and their loved ones gain a better understanding of breast health and breast cancer on a medical and personal level.
Living Beyond Breast Cancer
For 30 years this organization has been supporting clinicians and patients affected by breast cancer. The organization specializes in supporting patients through their cancer care.
It reports that it has awarded 2,700 grants totaling more than $2.2 million to assist women fighting breast cancer with their daily expenses and care.
With so many options available, it might feel overwhelming to figure out which charities are going to make the best use of your money.
In addition to making sure the organization’s vision and mission are in line with your charitable goals, it’s crucial to make sure you know where your money is going and what percentage is actually being used on program expenses.
Most reputable charities post relevant financial information on their websites. This includes annual reports and links to their Form 990, a document that provides the public with financial information about a nonprofit organization.
U.S. tax-exempt nonprofits are required to provide copies of the three most recently filed annual information returns (Form 990 returns) and the organization’s application for tax exemption.
Additionally, the IRS keeps a searchable list of organizations eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions, with links to Form 990 returns.
Online charity evaluation tools
Several online tools are available to make the task of evaluating charities easier.
Charity Navigator is one of the most well-known charity evaluators. They measure a charity’s financial health, accountability, and transparency. Its ratings show givers how efficiently it believes a charity will use their donations and how well it has sustained its programs and services over time.
Watchdog CharityWatch uses an easy-to-understand letter grade system and explains to consumers how efficiently a charity will use donations to fund its programs. CharityWatch also exposes nonprofit abuses and advocates for donors’ interests.
Other useful resources include BBB Wise Giving Alliance and GuideStar.
How to avoid being scammed
To avoid sending your money to an unscrupulous organization, the Federal Trade Commission recommends avoiding any charity or fundraiser that refuses to provide detailed information about its identity, mission, costs, and how the donation will be used.
You should also avoid any organizations that only take donations in cash or ask you to wire