Editorial: Poor use of breast cancer donations

Editorial Board

Why do we donate?

Whether through sponsored marathons, an extra dollar at the coffee shop, or large cash donations, Americans love to drop extra time and money on charitable causes. Many people donate after having struggled or having seen a loved one struggle with an ailment such as cancer. Others donate to reaffirm their identity as selfless individuals.

Regardless of why we give up our valuable time and money, most donors wish for their donations to actually go toward a good cause. With some lesser-known fundraisers, would-be donors worry about where their dollars are actually going — into necessary research and funding, or into personal or company pockets.

Unfortunately, we may have cause to worry about this even with larger charitable foundations. An example of this has spread across national news: pink National Football League merchandise, from which the proceeds are supposedly meant for breast cancer awareness.

The NFL’s “Crucial Catch” campaign has been represented by athletes wearing pink gear on the field, as well as numerous purchasable pink merchandise items on NFL websites. The campaign was to run all through October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and aims to increase awareness of the necessity of breast cancer screenings.

According to an article by Business Insider, “for every $100 in pink merchandise sold, $12.50 goes to the NFL. Of that [money given to the NFL], $11.25 goes to the American Cancer Society, and the NFL keeps the rest.” Sure, $1.25 per every $100 spent does not seem like enough to get riled up about. However, the NFL continues to promote its “Crucial Catch” campaign as being “non-profit,” which seems suspicious, given the aforementioned numbers.

Even more disturbing is the report that (according to the same article) after all groups have taken their share, only just over 8 percent of the money spent on pink gear actually goes toward breast cancer research.

What this all means is not necessarily that the NFL is an evil association, but rather an inefficient outlet for charitable donations. If an individual is truly concerned with helping breast cancer awareness or research, direct donations are far more beneficial. The only truly “wrong” thing is how few people know, upon purchasing pink merchandise, how little goes to the “cause.”

Yet another cause with dubious actions is the ever-popular Susan G. Komen foundation. Though inarguably a more efficient outlet for donations than NFL pink purchases, the foundation has some other policies that raise questions of sincerity.

For example, the foundation is slightly picky about just who they will accept much-needed donations from. Crazy Girls, a Las Vegas adult entertainment group, has been turned down by Susan G. Komen. After hosting an anniversary show and attempting to give proceeds to the foundation, Crazy Girls was refused.

Perhaps the idea of parading topless females doesn’t sit well with the Susan G. Komen foundation, but the donation was sincerely well-meant. At the end of the day, money earned in a different fashion is still money, and can be used to benefit sufferers and survivors of breast cancer.

Additionally, the Susan G. Komen foundation has a nasty habit of filing lawsuits against smaller organizations that borrow their words: “for the cure.” Local groups attempting to raise money for cancer awareness or research have been ruthlessly shut down after Komen claimed trademark oppositions.

According to a Huffington Post article by Komen’s general counselor Jonathan Blum, the foundation feels an obligation to protect their trademarks. The same article states that Komen’s legal fees “add up to almost a million dollars a year in donor funds.”

It could be argued that Komen’s trademark protection prevents less-trustworthy groups from using their labels for personal benefit. However, Komen’s efforts seem to go above and beyond that, punishing heartfelt organizations.

We are now at the end of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but it is never too late to do something to help the cause. The public needs to become aware of groups that wrongly claim non-profit status or poorly apply their abundant funds. By calling out these organizations, and by carefully researching others, we can make our donated dollars go further.