With October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, many people are looking for ways to get involved in the fight against the disease.
One of the best ways is to put your money where your mouth is and donate to breast cancer research and programming. But with so many charities in the States alone, it can be difficult to know where to direct your money and fundraising efforts. While most charities are united in their mission to eradicate breast cancer, each has slightly different values and ways of going about that goal.
With that in mind, here are a list of five breast cancer charities in the U.S. and a description of what they do for those with breast cancer, and for the survivors. This list takes into account those charities with the best research and service to operating cost ratio and the level of accountability and transparency each demonstrates.
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
As one of the country’s leading cancer treatment and research centers, it’s perhaps no surprise that 82% of the institute’s total expenses are spent on its programs and services. The institute’s five locations offer a number of support programs for patients.
Dana-Farber simplifies appointments for its cancer patients by having varied specialists on hand at a single facility, minimizing the time and money it takes to receive treatment. The institute has adult social work and support group programs for both patients and loved ones unsure of how to deal with the diagnoses. Patients and survivors alike are also encouraged to join one of the institute’s more playful groups, including a creative arts program and exercise classes.
Financial donations can be made directly or supporters can get involved in a number of fundraising efforts.
Breast Cancer Research Foundation
Since its founding in 1993, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation has supported more than 9.7 million hours of research worldwide — a number proudly touted on the homepage of the foundation’s website. Research into different areas of focus is the main way the BCRF uses donation dollars, with 90% of the foundation’s expenses going towards research and the charity’s awareness programs. That includes events across the country.
The foundation is also one of the most transparent charities in the States, with a perfect rating on Charity Navigator’s ranking of breast cancer charities.
Living Beyond Breast Cancer
This charity serves as a national support group for those living with and caring for people with breast cancer. Living Beyond Breast Cancer works with half a million people each year at every step of the way, from initial diagnosis to treatment to throughout the recovery process.
Donations go to support a slate of nationwide educational programs, including webinars, conferences, the printing of information books, community meetings, and writing workshops. The charity also runs a service called YWIConnect where women can have trusted information texted directly to their phone.
Living Beyond Breast Cancer is the highest ranked and most viewed breast cancer charity on Charity Navigator’s rankings.
Casting for Recovery
This is one of the more unique and specialized charities operating in the States. Casting for Recovery provides free fly fishing retreats for breast cancer patients and survivors. The unconventional and fun retreat serves as a support group for those women who have dealt with cancer, and is also a source of education for those looking to find out more. The body movements required when fly fishing mimic those soft tissue stretching activities that are prescribed during the breast cancer recovery process. More than 600 women benefit from a Casting for Recovery retreat each year.
Consistent with the other charities on this list, Casting for Recovery has a near perfect transparency rating and 80% of all expenses go towards operating the fly fishing retreats and other programs.
National Breast Cancer Foundation
The National Breast Cancer Foundation focuses on education, especially when it comes to the prevention and early detection of breast cancer. The charity runs informative programs on the value of mammograms and self examination. In fact, a $100 donation can go directly towards helping women pay for the cost of a mammogram.
For those who have been diagnosed, there’s the Beyond The Shock program which is a free online guide meant to inform and dispel myths surrounding breast cancer in those who have been recently diagnosed. This guide, in addition to the NBCF’s Patient Navigator Program, is meant to make the process of entering and progressing through the cancer care system less stressful for all those involved.
For a full list of the breast cancer charities operating in the States, visit Charity Navigator, which also includes detailed ratings on how each organization performs in a number areas.