Over the course of many rants spewed out into the blogosphere, I’ve accumulated a few questions about where I stand on certain breast cancer-related issues. What better time to pull them out of the archives than Pinktober?

*Disclaimer: I’m attempting to answer these questions in terms of my own personal experience.  Putting it bluntly, my answers are MY OPINION. I strive for accuracy (most of the time), but make no claims to be a researcher or an expert. Ok then.

QUESTION:  I know how you feel about many of the Komen supported fundraisers, but what about fundraising that benefits American Cancer Society? Pampered Chef is having their “whip cancer” month, and the pink products have a portion donated to the ACS and their breast cancer fighting initiatives. Is this a “good” one, or no???

Generally speaking, any company that gives a portion of their products to help a cause is technically “good.” That’s why they do it — they want to help and/or they want to earn good will with the community by supporting a cause.

That being said, there’s a catch to the huge, well-known foundations (ex. Susan G. Komen & American Cancer Society), & that is this: not all of your hard-earned pennies are going to cancer patients or research. Some of the money, a lot of money, sometimes even MOST of the money goes to the nebulous (& enormous) “overhead” costs that these foundations carry — things like executive salaries & marketing/fundraising.

So let’s say that you go to a Pampered Chef party & “Make A Difference” by buying this pair of pretty pink rubber gloves. They cost $10. Pampered Chef gives $1 (yes, that’s ONE dollar) to the American Cancer Society. The ACS is a big organization — they have lots of people & lots of fundraising & lots of… well, you get the idea. So they use ~30% of their funding for “overhead” (according to their 2008 financial statements). Which means your $1 is now 70¢.

Now according to GiveWell, a nifty little company that spend lots of time trying to figure out where our “charitable” contributions are actually going, here is the 2008 breakdown for ACS, with your contribution:

  • Research 17% (plus 11.9¢ from your pink rubber gloves)
  • Prevention 25% (plus 17.5¢ from your pink rubber gloves)
  • Patient support 37% (plus 25.9¢ from your pink rubber gloves)
  • Detection/treatment 21% (plus 14.7¢ from your pink rubber gloves)

So do your pink rubber gloves makes a difference? Yep, a very small but definite difference. But what if you decided to give the money directly to a breast cancer patient? Or your local cancer center? Or a family whose child has cancer?

My opinion: The only time ALL of your money goes where it should is if you skip the big, pretty, well-marketed organizations & give it directly to your cause. There are tons of families out there fighting the good fight, both in your community & in bloggy-world. I’ll bet they would most definitely appreciate a helping hand &/or an unsolicited gift. So yeah, I would skip the $10 pink rubber gloves.