There’s so much I’d love to discuss and rant about from this article on breast cancer walks in the Washington Post today! But, there are some specifics which feel especially important that I’ll try to stick to.
This piece makes many good points and I believe that there are definitely better, more meaningful ways to make a difference. Working in fundraising, I understand that there will be some overhead for events. But what’s reasonable? Donors, ultimately, are not giving to support an event; donors give to support their cause.
We need to hold these big, name-brand orgs to a higher standard (actually, all non-profits). They should be legally obligated to provide transparency so that prospective donors and donors know exactly where every dollar goes—and not general categories like research, education, and services. There should be a full disclosure report with all financial details and specifics easily accessible to the public. But, I think that’s as far as it can go, transparency on every dollar. With that, a donor can decide if they want to give to an org, knowing precisely how it manages and uses funds.
And how an org uses its dollars is key. It’s not just what percentage of donations are actually spent on the cause, but also whether or not who or what receives the funds is credible. Right? A responsible org should also make sure those to whom they give money are truly providing effective services, doing effective research, etc. Sadly, we can’t demand that the research cures cancer or they lose funds—if only we could, though, and that would solve the mystery of the missing cure! Still, we can demand that it’s responsible, thoughtful, intelligent, and making its best effort to serve well those affected and those who may be affected by breast cancer.
Clearly (and disappointingly), funds raised and granted through these walks are not having a positive effect on breast cancer. “Getting answers to where the money goes is critical, because we haven’t made nearly enough progress dealing with the disease’s mortality rate. Today, 250,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with breast cancer annually. More than 40,000 women die of the disease each year, a number that has hardly declined in 25 years.”
I think there is a lot that needs to change with big, name-brand orgs and their practices. The walks are definitely part of that. I think they’ve gotten lazy and greedy and forgotten their roots. I think they need to quit focusing on making their walks bigger and better and more glamorous. They need to reconnect with their purpose and re-envision their goals, consider who they are really supposed to be serving. Then, get back to the real work of helping and serving their cause, their humans—or get the hell out.