Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide. While the disease is the leading cause of cancer death in women in developing countries and the second-leading cause of cancer death in women in the U.S. and other developed countries after lung cancer, there is hope in sight. In the U.S., death rates from breast cancer have been declining since 1989, according to the American Cancer Society. The decreases are believed to be due to earlier detection through screening, increased awareness, and improved treatment.
Several healthcare reports state that in the U.S. in 2015, women are expected to be diagnosed with 231,840 new cases of invasive breast cancer and 60,290 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer. But keep in mind another important statistic from the American Cancer Society: There are more 2.8 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S.
Drumming up support for your own breast cancer battle or continuing to raise awareness for breast cancer and help fund the research to improve treatment and find a cure are extremely important.
Organizations like Susan G. Komen have done wonders to put the disease in the spotlight thanks to its main fundraising events, Komen Race for the Cure and 3-day 60-mile walks.
“The race was originally designed 30 years ago as a place for women and men with breast cancer to feel safe and to understand they weren’t alone, back when people couldn’t talk openly about breast cancer,” said Carrie Walsh, senior vice president, marketing at Susan G. Komen. “In fact, we worried that no one would show up for our first Race in 1982 because of the stigma around the disease. Today, more than 1.5 million people participate in these Races in 140 cities around the world.”
Breast Cancer Donations: Where Does the Money Go?
If you are like most Americans you’ve probably made a donation to some breast cancer organization. Purchasing pink, walking for a cure, and many other fundraisers may seem like a great way to support the cause- but where do those donations go?
First, it is important to realize that many breast cancer organizations are helping women and furthering breast cancer research. Check out the website of any organization you want to support and read their missions statement. Learn more about the programs or services they offer and even chat with women who have benefited from breast cancer donations and services.
It is important to know that some fraudulent organizations can easily cloak themselves with official-sounding names, asking for breast cancer donations that only fund salaries. For instance, the pink ribbon, often associated with breast cancer awareness, is not regulated and can end up nearly any item for sale. While you may think a percentage of pink ribbon purchases will be donations to breast cancer research, that may not be the case. Do your research and make sure the packaging states where the proceeds will go.
Before you make a breast cancer donation, check that the organization you are supporting is legitimate. Review websites like the American Institute of Philanthropy or Charity Navigator which monitor charity organizations and educate donors.
A good rule of thumb is to make sure that an organization spends at least 75% of their budget on program expenses, expenses that go directly to funding breast cancer awareness, research, or prevention. The best breast cancer organizations have administrative expenses of less than 15%.
Finally, understand that donations don’t always have to go to a large organization. The rise of crowdfunding websites has allowed individual people to gather donations for breast cancer treatment or expenses for people battling the disease. If you would like your donation to go directly to an individual, consider donating to a personal breast cancer fundraiser.
Crowdfunding for a Cause
You can join the battle against breast cancer by utilizing online fundraising and its ability to harness the power of social networks to attract donations. Thousands are turning to crowdfunding to raise money for their own breast cancer-related medical expenses (which can reach $100,000 or in advanced cases, up to $300,000 or more), and to raise awareness and fund research for the disease by contributing to reputable nonprofits. There are many fundraising ideas.
“[One] trend that we are seeing is peer-to-peer fundraising—having people use their existing community to be an ambassador for the cause they are supporting,” Walsh said.
By fundraising for breast cancer, you are helping to improve survival rates and impact the lives of thousands of women fighting the disease. The goal of a breast cancer awareness campaign is to encourage women to be screened for breast cancer, rally people to donate money toward breast cancer research, and to help ensure that finding a cure for breast cancer remains a vital cause in the public eye.
Hundreds of nonprofit organizations dedicated to breast cancer need continuous support to fund awareness and research efforts. A few of the most prominent include Susan G. Komen, Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Living Beyond Breast Cancer, American Breast Cancer Foundation and The Breast Cancer Charities of America.
Strategies for Success
Walsh advised those fundraising for breast cancer awareness to do their homework, and in turn, she said nonprofits must be transparent about how donations will be utilized.
“A big trend with donors is having the ability to see where the money being donated is going,” she said. “Most responsible charities will have this information on their websites.”
Walsh recommends starting there to find out where donations go, such as screening programs only, surgery costs and living expenses for low-income women.
Money donated to Komen is earmarked for a variety of initiatives, such as breast cancer research and community programs that provide financial aid, treatment, and social support. Komen recently launched a directed donation campaign where people can opt to donate to a specific Komen-funded project and see the direct impact their dollars are making.
Lastly, Walsh stresses the importance of a good campaign story.
“Always remember that a personal story always helps people feel more comfortable contributing,” she said.
When it comes to breast cancer awareness fundraising ideas, we encourage you to get out there and be creative while rallying people together to support your cause. Here are six great suggestions to complement your online crowdfunding campaign.
1. Pink Party
Host a fun party that requires guests to wear pink clothing and serve pink food and drinks. We’re thinking pink cupcakes, cookies, candy, and punch. Have attendees pay a set admission fee to the party through a donation to your online campaign. At the party, have raffles and auctions for items donated by community members and local businesses.
2. Flower Fundraiser
Contact a local florist to see if they would be willing to partner with you to hold a breast cancer awareness campaign around a holiday such as Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day when flower sales are booming. Ask if they will donate a percentage of all red or pink roses sold to your fundraiser, and in turn, they will receive a free advertisement from you as you spread the word about your campaign.
3. Spare Change
Reach out to your favorite local restaurants, bars, and retail businesses, and ask them to place a few jars out to receive donations from any “spare change” that their customers may have. You can decorate the jars with pink ribbons, glitter, and pictures to spark people’s attention and let them know that their money is going to a great cause. If the jars are placed in the front of the business or wherever they have the most traffic, they’re likely to be filled in no time!
You might be used to walkathons, jog-a-thons and marathons. How about a haircut-a-thon? Reach out to a local hair salon (or a hair stylist you’re devoted to) and ask if they would be willing to host a day of haircuts at a flat rate price with all proceeds benefitting your campaign. Make fliers to promote the event and be sure to spread the word on your campaign page and across Facebook and Twitter.
5. Breast Cancer Booth
Setting up a table in front of a store or at a large event is a great way to gain exposure for your cause or for the nonprofit for which you are crowdfunding. Make sure to have all the important information about the nonprofit and where donations will go, as well as breast cancer statistics.
6. Garage Sale
Ask your family, friends, and neighbors to participate by donating items for a garage sale. Decorate a booth in pink and make signs notifying everyone that all proceeds from the sale will benefit your breast cancer awareness fundraiser. Add a lemonade stand and some baked goods to sell as well, and leave a donation jar visible. Promote your garage sale on your social media networks and ask your local online paper to run an ad for extra exposure.
Ready to make a difference in the lives of women suffering from breast cancer or start receiving support for your own medical expenses and treatments?