This article outlines the top breast cancer charities in the United States and their specific contributions to the cause, plus other factors to keep in mind before donating.
Contents of this article:
The history of the pink ribbon
The pink ribbon is a symbol of breast cancer, and is often sold to raise money for breast cancer charities.
Breast cancer activist and survivor Charlotte Hayley inspired the design of the pink ribbon, which is still in use today.
Hayley initially handed out peach-colored looped ribbons that she made herself with a card stating: "The National Cancer Institute's annual budget is $1.8 billion, only 5 percent goes for cancer prevention. Help us wake up our legislators and America by wearing this ribbon."
In 1991, the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation first gave out pink ribbons to participants in its annual Race For the Cure in New York City. The ribbon did not become famous until 1992 when Estee Lauder cosmetic counters nationwide gave out pink ribbons for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which takes place in October every year.
In 1993, Avon released a $2 enamel and gold-cast pink ribbon broach. In the first 2 years alone, the Avon pin raised $10 million dollars, encouraging many other companies and charities to create pink ribbon products.
Questions to ask
The easiest way to know that 100 percent of donated funds go to charity is to give directly to the organization. Donating to organizations in person, by mail, or online is also the only way to receive a tax credit for the donation.
When it comes to pink ribbon products, the portion of proceeds that goes directly toward breast cancer charities varies. Some companies have faced criticism for using the pink ribbon as a marketing tool while they donate very little to the cause itself.
Breast Cancer Action's Think Before You Pink campaign recommends asking a few important questions before purchasing pink ribbon products.
Questions to ask before buying pink include:
- How much, if any, of the product's proceeds, go toward charity?
- Which organization gets the money?
- Does the organization receiving the proceeds run programs or sponsor research that will help stop the breast cancer epidemic?
- Does the company selling the pink ribbon product also support, sell, or manufacture products tied to breast cancer, such as cosmetics containing chemicals that have been linked to cancer?
- Is there a cap, or maximum amount, set by the company on their donations to breast cancer charities? Will they notify customers once the cap has been met?
Top breast cancer charities in the U.S.
Here is a helpful list of some of the best breast cancer charities in the U.S., organized by how they contribute to the cause.
Breast cancer research
Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation
Knowing how donations are used by a charity is important, to ensure money goes towards supporting people with breast cancer, and medical advancements.
Unlike a majority of breast cancer charities, the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation almost exclusively fund research exploring the causes of the condition.
They also conduct long-term projects to better understand the impact of breast cancer treatments, both physically and emotionally.
According to Charity Navigator, an objective rating system for charities, an estimated 81.9 percent of the foundation's total funds go directly toward programs and services.
California Breast Cancer Research Program
The California Breast Cancer Research Program are devoted to breast cancer research and education. Unlike many charities, the program's funding is relatively stable, receiving 45 percent of revenue from California's tobacco tax.
This stability allows the organization to establish long-term projects, exploring critical breast cancer topics.
Since 1994, the program has donated $262 million to research institutions in California, and 95 percent of its total funds go directly toward programs and services.
National Breast Cancer Coalition
One of the largest and most influential breast cancer charities, the National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC) was founded in 1991.
Consisting of activists, survivors, researchers, lobbyists, and policy makers, the coalition's mission is to figure out how to end breast cancer by 2020.
The NBCC has over 60,000 members and has successfully advocated for more than $3 billion dollars in federal research funding.
Breast Cancer Research Foundation
Started in 1993 by Estee Lauder founder Evelyn H. Lauder, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation donated about 90.1 percent of their total funds directly to programs and services, with 88 percent going to research.
The foundation's Founder Fund is the largest private project worldwide focused on understanding the biology behind metastasis, when cancer spreads to infect different tissues or organs.
Breast cancer education and screening
Different charities serve different purposes, ranging from providing screening for breast cancer, to funding research into new cures.
National Breast Cancer Foundation
The National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) focus on providing women with early detection, support, and education. They offer free mammograms to women in all 50 states of the U.S.
Some 82.9 percent of the foundation's total funds go directly toward programs and services.
Founded in 2000, Breastcancer.org offer extensive online educational materials focused on breast cancer treatment and prevention. The organization also helps connect people impacted by breast cancer, creating a sense of community and building support networks.
The organization say every dollar raised helps three women access the information they need to make sound medical decisions. It has helped over 72 million people worldwide with about 79.5 percent of total funds going directly toward programs and services.
Helping young people
Young Survival Coalition
The Young Survival Coalition (YSC) help women under the age of 40 who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. An estimated 70,000 people between the ages of 15 and 39 are diagnosed with cancer in the U.S. each year. Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer for women in this age group.
Founded by three women who were all diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 35, YSC has been educating and supporting young women with breast cancer since 1998.
About 74 percent of the YSC's funds go directly toward their programs and services.
Financial assistance for people with breast cancer
The Pink Fund
The Pink Fund offer financial assistance to those in active treatment for breast cancer. Typically, it provides enough money to cover 90 days of nonmedical living expenses, such as home, utility, and vehicle payments.
The Pink Fund's financials are available online. In 2016, they helped 358 women, spending a combined $594,159.
The Breast Cancer Charities of America
Through their Help Now program, the Breast Cancer Charities of America (BCCA) offer financial aid for people who are currently being treated for breast cancer.
Grants are typically up to $1,000 per person and meant to cover housing and utility payments. The BCCA also partner with corporate sponsors to donate medicine and equipment to hospitals and clinics in developing nations.
According to their 2016 financial records, the BCCA spent $27,172,681 on programs and services, an estimated 83 percent of their total funding.
Community support programs
Living Beyond Breast Cancer
Founded in 1991, Living Beyond Breast Cancer (LBBC) offers trustworthy educational materials online and focuses on connecting people diagnosed with breast cancer with survivors of the disease.
An estimated 83.2 percent of total funds go directly toward programs and services.