Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Something to think about before you give to a cancer fighting charity

Cancer is bad. I'm going to state that right before we let this horse out of the gate here. My heart and prayers go out to the people, the friends and families who are fighting against cancer. To the researchers trying to find new ways to manage, and beat cancer, you have my support and respect. A large chunk of the cancer fighting charities can kiss my glow in the dark Irish rear-end however.

How can I be all for ending cancer but have a problem with some cancer charities? Read on and I will tell you.

There are certain charities that hold fun little events, like having walks and runs against cancer. We've all seen them. Maybe a few of you reading this have taken part, or sponsored someone who has. The people register, get pledges from their friends, family members and coworkers to walk run or bike 5k, 10k or more. The charities get money, the people involved get some exercise, and a lot of fun and feel good times are had by all, so what is not to like? Next time you see a pamphlet for one of these events, pick it up and give it a good read. You might notice something.

One thing some of these charities have started doing is instating a minimum amount of money that a person who wishes to help out must raise to take part in these events. If you do not meet the minimum required stated, you must make up the difference, or you are not allowed to take part, and your donation will be refused.

I have a huge problem with this. The world economy is in trouble. The cost of living is rising, and a lot of people struggle to stay afloat. If I want to take part in one of these events, and raise $180, then be happy I raised $180. Do not charge me $20 to make it $200. That $20 might be needed. Maybe it's bus fare. Maybe it's going to buy me some milk and bread. There are people out there that every penny they have counts. Or what of the child that wants to help out, works hard to get sponsors but falls short of the minimum? Are you going to tell this little boy or girl to go home? What kind of lesson would that be to them?

Look at it this way, when a food bank decides to have a food drive, do they tell you to bring them steak, and turn away donations of apple juice or pasta?

Now I can see how a charity might require a minimum donation if say everyone going on the walk/run were getting a t-shirt. What they should do in a situation like this is still accept donations from people wanting to take part, and not give them the free shirt if they fall short. Events like these are to raise money after all, and can not be operating at a loss. But to tell someone who took the time, made the effort to get donations and actually show up that that their fund-raising is not good enough is wasteful and just mean. Every penny counts.

Another thing that you might want to look into before deciding to support a cancer fighting charity is where your money is going. What is the breakdown for every dollar they get? Yes administrative costs to run a charity are a reality, and that is fine. People do need to earn a living, ads need to be printed and such. But how much of your money goes to the charity, and how much goes to the company running the advertising and management of the charity? 20%? 40%? 80%? Are you okay with 20 cents out of every dollar you raised actually getting towards the people doing research to help end cancer, with the other 80 cents going to some ad firm?

Finally, they money that does make it towards cancer research, does it make it to real scientists working hard to help people? Or does it go to big pharmaceutical companies who know that their best interests lie not in finding cures for cancer but in making sure people live just long enough that they can turn a profit on their illness?

I'm not going to name names. If you are reading this, that means you have the internet. Do a little research before you decide who to fund. It is your money after all. There are good charities out there that want to help, and try their best. It's too bad that some of the more slicker events tarnish their attempts and take away needed money from them.

There IS a cure out there for all sorts of different cancers. One day with your help we will find it.

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