Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Where does your money go?

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It’s the last day of October, which means it’s also the last day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Many of you have probably seen pink ribbons flooding Facebook and retail locations. These pink ribbons are synonymous with Susan G. Komen’s fight for the cure.

According to an article published earlier this month by USA Today, the Susan G. Komen Foundation scores extremely low in its rating from watchdog organization CharityWatch.

Susan G. Komen has dealt with some controversy after a “decision in 2012 to cut its grants that funded breast cancer screening and outreach programs at Planned Parenthood erupted into controversy. The group quickly reversed its decision,” according to USA Today.

The organization also has received criticism for what has been called “pinkwashing,” or “supporting the breast cancer cause or promoting a pink ribbon product while producing, manufacturing, and/or selling products linked to the disease. In recent years the definition has expanded to include any company or organization that exploits breast cancer for profit or public relations motivations,” according to the Breast Cancer Consortium.

Basically, when you see a bright pink Kentucky Fried Chicken bucket or Gatorade bottle, think twice about buying. More than likely, the company is using this disease for their own profit.

So how does Susan G. Komen rank overall? CharityWatch uses specific metrics like financial statements, tax reports, program expenses and fundraising costs to ultimately score different charities.

CharityWatch gives the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation a C+ rating with program percentage of 62%-77% and the cost of $12-$27 to raise $100.

Other well known charities such as the American Breast Cancer Foundation, Walker Cancer Research Institute and the National Cancer Center also received zero or one stars from the watchdog group.

But not to worry. In a list compiled by USA Today, CharityWatch also gave out A+ to A- ratings to charities like these three that focus specifically on breast cancer prevention and research:

Breast Cancer Research Foundation

Mission: To prevent and cure breast cancer by advancing the world’s most promising research.

Rating: A+

Program percentage (percentage of its cash budget it spends on programs relative to overhead): 90%

Cost to raise $100 (How many dollars a charity spends on fundraising to raise each $100 of contributions): $7

National Breast Cancer Coalition Fund

Mission: To end breast cancer; has set a deadline to know how to end breast cancer by January 1, 2020.

Rating: A

Program percentage: 83%

Cost to raise $100: $13

Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (formerly Breast Cancer Fund)

Mission: Working to prevent breast cancer by eliminating exposure to toxic chemicals and radiation linked to the disease.

Rating: A-

Program percentage: 77% 

Cost to raise $100: $13

“Charity Watch also gives top ratings to these broader cancer organizations on the list that are also involved in breast cancer research, treatment and education: Cancer Research Institute, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Prevent Cancer Foundation and the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s Stand Up To Cancer,” according to USA Today.

So when next October rolls around – you can make an informed decision on what breast cancer charities to donate to and which to avoid. Just remember to always do your research!

Kelsey Lester-Perry
Kelsey is an award-winning reporter from San Jose who recently moved to Clovis. Her previous work experiences includes the Spartan Daily, La Voz Weekly, and the Gilroy Patch.