Breast cancer is the most common cancer to affect women. The American Cancer Society estimates that about 1 in 8 women — 12 percent of women in the United States — will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetime. Combined with male cases of breast cancer, that’s approximately 249,260 diagnoses every year in the United States alone.
Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among women. The need for a cure is therefore urgent.
Here are just some of the top nonprofit organizations leading the fight against breast cancer. Read on for more on how these charities use your donations to accelerate research, provide invaluable support to women living with breast cancer, and educate about prevention and treatment.
Breast Cancer Fund
This San Francisco-based nonprofit aims to get at the root of breast cancer by investigating and eliminating linked environmental factors, such as toxic chemicals and radiation. Founded in 1993, the prevention-focused Breast Cancer Fund favors outdoor events, like their 21st annual Peak Hike for Prevention held this past September, or their Climb Against the Odds hike of Mt. Shasta, slated for June 2017. These fundraisers allow the organization to devote more than 75 percent of expenses to programming.
Fun fact: The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences recently awarded Breast Cancer Fund CEO Jeanne Rizzo the Champion of Environmental Health Research Award.
Breast Cancer Research Foundation
Since its inception in 1993, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) has raised over half a billion dollars in support of its mission to “prevent and cure cancer by advancing the world’s most promising research.” The Foundation puts its money where its mouth is, with over 90 percent of expenses directly supporting research and awareness efforts. It’s no surprise then that BCRF was granted an A+ rating from Charity Watch in early 2016.
The foundation tackles breast cancer from multiple research angles, and recently established the “first large-scale global effort” to research metastasis. It will gift an additional $57 million in 2016 and 2017 in research grants.
A massive repository of information on breast cancer, from diagnosis to recovery and all the day-to-day matters in between, Breastcancer.org has provided information to more than 72 million visitors since its founding in 1999 by oncologist Marisa Weiss, M.D. In fulfilling its mission to help women make sense of breast cancer and the complex decisions around it, the site includes some 8,000 pages of content and hosts a peer support community with more than 179,000 registered users.
Nearly 60 percent of program expenses go to maintaining the site’s educational and informational repository, with an additional 30 percent of expenses split between prevention education and community forums. Check out their Twitter for tips, stories, research, and more.
Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation
The mission of the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation is to end breast cancer by driving innovative research and projects getting to the heart of cause and prevention, as well as to minimize the collateral damage of breast cancer treatments. The Foundation maintains a focus on those affected by breast cancer by actively engaging the public and translating science into meaningful findings.
Their efforts include the Army of Women, a diverse group of women and men willing to participate in breast cancer research, and the Health of Women (HOW) Study, an international online survey designed to inform the potential causes of breast cancer. To date, the HOW Study has 53,127 participants. Nearly 82 percent of program expenses support research programs like these, while the remaining 18 percent supports education and outreach programs.
Living Beyond Breast Cancer
This Philadelphia-based organization is celebrating 25 years of providing information and a community of support to people affected by breast cancer. Living Beyond Breast Cancer (LBBC)’s services include a telephone helpline, and an online chat helpline, launched last year. In 2015, the organization also expanded its Young Women’s Initiative, a curriculum designed to support and educate women under 45 about breast cancer.
More than 80 percent of LBBC’s expenses are devoted to programming and expanding the community of support available to people affected by breast cancer. Follow their Twitter for more digital resources, and keep an eye open for info on their next Twitter chat.
National Breast Cancer Coalition
The National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC) mission is simple — to know how to end breast cancer by 2020. Founded in 1991, the NBCC uses “the power of action and advocacy” to advance research, increase federal funding for research, and make ending breast cancer a government priority.
In 2010, the organization set its January 1, 2020 deadline for finding a cure. To achieve this goal, the NBCC outlined four priorities for 2016, including securing $150 million for the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program. Donations to the coalition are split between efforts, with some 10 percent supporting public policy efforts, 27 percent supporting research, and 30 percent supporting education and training. Track their progress by following their Twitter, or check out the hashtag #PinkisnotEnough.
National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc.
After being treated for breast cancer in 1980, Janelle Hail founded the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) to provide help and hope through detection services, education, and community support. The foundation provides educational resources, such as the online guide Beyond the Shock for those recently diagnosed, as well as through support for on the ground patient services, like the National Mammography Program, which provides free mammograms and diagnostic services to underserved women across the country.
In 2015, the National Mammography Program provided more than 16,500 mammograms, breast exams, ultrasounds, and other services to women in need. With 85 percent of expenses supporting programs like these, it’s no wonder that the NBCF has 11 four-star ratings from Charity Navigator.
Young Survival Coalition
Founded in 1998 by three women who were diagnosed with breast cancer under the age of 35, the Young Survival Coalition (YSC) aims to help other young women facing breast cancer connect, learn, and speak up.
The organization facilitates connections between survivors through online forums and video support groups, and helps women navigate breast cancer with resource kits tailored to different stages, like those who are newly diagnosed, metastatic, and post-treatment. The coalition recently released a research agenda, informed by two years of collaboration with over 50 advocates, medical professionals, and researchers.