October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a time dedicated to aiming the public eye at the struggles of those who suffer from breast cancer.
The hope in raising awareness is so that people will donate their time, money and other resources to help fund research and care for those who struggle with the disease.
For good reason, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2014, 239,109 people in the United States were diagnosed with breast cancer and 41,676 died from it.
This is why Breast Cancer Awareness Month is so important, it helps fund the research that could potentially cure a disease that affects so many people.
Now when people think of donating money to breast cancer research, the first thing they think of is the color pink.
Specifically the pink ribbons made popular by the organization Susan G. Komen.
By far the largest and most well-funded organization when it comes to breast cancer charities, their 2016 annual report states that they received a total of $257,895,950 in donations from the public.
With so much public support and money pouring into this organization it must be safe to assume that this is the place to donate money to help in the fight against breast cancer.
That would a somewhat incorrect assumption.
While Susan G. Komen is certainly a place to donate money, it is far from the best place to do so.
Susan G. Komen is an organization that doesn’t have anything incredibly “wrong” with it, but there are several aspects to it that should give people pause.
First of all, for an organization that is dedicated to an altruistic cause, it sure seems to have an issue with people “horning in” on their image.
In 2010 the Huffington Post reported that the organization has gone after hundreds of groups for using the phrase “for the cure” in their name.
This isn’t just sending cease and desist letters, Susan G. Komen spends a large sum of money each year filing legal trademark oppositions against much smaller breast cancer charities.
Isn’t it nice to know that they’re using the money for a good cause?
Speaking of the proper allocation of funds, one would think that the leaders of a charity organization wouldn’t take that much home per year?
It is understandable to draw a living wage, but, $500,000, as reported by Charity Navigator, seems a bit excessive for the leader of a charity organization.
The most morally dubious aspect of their financials is the way in which they spend the money that has been donated to them.
In the organization’s 2010-2011 financial report it was revealed that Susan G. Komen only devotes 20.9 percent of the donations it receives to researching breast cancer.
The rest of their funding goes towards administrative costs and raising “awareness,” i.e. devoting money to advertising the Susan G. Komen brand and merchandise.
Not only that but the organization has in the past put the lives of women at risk purely to make a political statement.
A Washington Post article reports that in 2012 Susan G. Komen pulled all its grants for breast cancer screenings to Planned Parenthood.
This was after Planned Parenthood came under federal inquiry over whether it had spent federal money on abortions.
It is quite obvious that this was a political play on Susan G. Komen’s part.
And of course, being the image conscious organization they are, they restored the grant very quickly after the massive public outcry against the decision.
It’s time for Susan G. Komen to make a change.
Because at this point in time, it feels like people are more than “aware” of breast cancer.
There is no need for Susan G. Komen to devote as much time and effort as it does into fluffing itself up and peddling pink ribbons.
Why should a charity organization be so dedicated to protecting its brand? “For the cure” is a phrase being used for a good cause, to raise money and help fight a terrible disease.
Susan G. Komen has no reason, in fact, they have no right, to use funds donated to help people to try to prevent other charities from helping victims of breast cancer.
That is to say Susan G. Komen isn’t the worse thing in the world.
It might be a rather morally dubious organization, but at least it isn’t an outright scam, but it could certainly be better than it is.
Until Susan G. Komen makes a change, if it ever does, there are several organizations that people would be better off donating their time and money to.
Charity Watch, an organization founded by the American Institute of Philanthropy, created a list of the top ten charities dedicated to fighting cancer.
On a side note, Susan G. Komen didn’t even make the list.
Charity Watch had three dedicated breast cancer charities on its list.
These three charities are, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the National Breast Cancer Coalition Fund and Breast Cancer Prevention Partners.
All three of these charities were given at least an “A-” rating by Charity Watch, whereas Susan G. Komen only scored a “C+” rating.
Other charities that should be donated to, based on the ranking of Charity Navigator, are the National Breast Cancer Foundation, the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation and Lynn Sage Cancer Research Foundation.
All of these organizations were given at least a score of 90.9 (out of 100) by Charity Navigator, while Susan G. Komen only received an 81.11.
As stated previously, it isn’t that Susan G. Komen is a completely terrible organization.
It has done its part in bringing the issue of breast cancer into the public perception, but that isn’t enough to make up for its failings in other areas.
They waste too much of the money that they have been entrusted to protecting and perpetuating their brand as opposed to putting the money where it needs to go.
At the end of the day, there are far better organizations for people to donate their money to, and it is highly recommended that people do.
Breast cancer is a terrible disease that kills far too many people each year.
So please, help those who can’t help themselves, just don’t do it through Susan G. Komen.
Q Russell is a junior journalism major from Charlotte, North Carolina. You can follow him on Twitter at @Q_M_Russell