Think before you Pink

I’ve never really cared for pink.

Not as a girl, or as a young woman. Now I can’t seem to escape these little pink ribbons as I make may way through cancer treatment. I realize that they symbolize hope, courage, and honor the memory of all those struggling or who have lost the fight against breast cancer. I am going out on a limb here, and probably going to piss a few people off and say that I am sick of little pink ribbons. Just as I don’t want to always talk about the cancer and the treatment, I don’t now assume this identity of a card carrying, pink ribbon wearing cancer patient. I’m still the me that I was BC, before cancer, (just way more bald!).

There is also the fundraising, charity aspect behind that little pink ribbon, and that is what I’d really like to address. How many times in your life have you been asked to make a donation towards a cause? You probably have no idea, but a lot, right? Now, you may have wondered where that funding was actually going, but did you ever really look into that, and follow your dollars?

Good for you if you’ve already studied up on this, but for me, this cancer trip has been a whole eye opening journey on many levels. I did some homework and learned that there are a lot of “charities” that dole out such a small portion of the funds raised, that it’s as if giving .60 for every $100. contributed!! I kid you not… this information is based on federal tax filings. Instead, the money is lining the pockets of greedy corporate solicitors.

Now there are a lot of good, honest charities out there too and I don’t want to discredit charities as a whole. Thank goodness for good charities and the generous contributors who support a myriad of causes. I will talk a little more about that at the end.

For our purposes now though, I’d like to highlight the 50 worst charities and show you how much cash aid actually went to the population they claim to serve. This information became public in the summer of 2013, after a yearlong investigation by the Tampa Bay Times and The Center for Investigative Reporting, looking into the tax records of nearly 6,000 charities that hired for-profit companies to raise their donations. Of those, they singled out the top 50 culprits. Below here is the chart published by the Tampa Bay Times.

Rank Charity name Total raised by solicitors Paid to solicitors % spent on direct cash aid
1 Kids Wish Network $127.8 million $109.8 million 2.5%
2 Cancer Fund of America $98.0 million $80.4 million 0.9%
3 Children’s Wish Foundation International $96.8 million $63.6 million 10.8%
4 American Breast Cancer Foundation $80.8 million $59.8 million 5.3%
5 Firefighters Charitable Foundation $63.8 million $54.7 million 8.4%
6 Breast Cancer Relief Foundation $63.9 million $44.8 million 2.2%
7 International Union of Police Associations, AFL-CIO $57.2 million $41.4 million 0.5%
8 National Veterans Service Fund $70.2 million $36.9 million 7.8%
9 American Association of State Troopers $45.0 million $36.0 million 8.6%
10 Children’s Cancer Fund of America $37.5 million $29.2 million 5.3%
11 Children’s Cancer Recovery Foundation $34.7 million $27.6 million 0.6%
12 Youth Development Fund $29.7 million $24.5 million 0.8%
13 Committee For Missing Children $26.9 million $23.8 million 0.8%
14 Association for Firefighters and Paramedics $23.2 million $20.8 million 3.1%
15 Project Cure (Bradenton, FL) $51.5 million $20.4 million 0.0%
16 National Caregiving Foundation $22.3 million $18.1 million 3.5%
17 Operation Lookout National Center for Missing Youth $19.6 million $16.1 million 0.0%
18 United States Deputy Sheriffs’ Association $23.1 million $15.9 million 0.6%
19 Vietnow National Headquarters $18.1 million $15.9 million 2.9%
20 Police Protective Fund $34.9 million $14.8 million 0.8%
21 National Cancer Coalition $41.5 million $14.0 million 1.1%
22 Woman To Woman Breast Cancer Foundation $14.5 million $13.7 million 0.4%
23 American Foundation For Disabled Children $16.4 million $13.4 million 0.8%
24 The Veterans Fund $15.7 million $12.9 million 2.3%
25 Heart Support of America $33.0 million $11.0 million 3.4%
26 Veterans Assistance Foundation $12.2 million $11.0 million 10.5%
27 Children’s Charity Fund $14.3 million $10.5 million 2.3%
28 Wishing Well Foundation USA $12.4 million $9.8 million 4.6%
29 Defeat Diabetes Foundation $13.8 million $8.3 million 0.1%
30 Disabled Police Officers of America Inc. $10.3 million $8.1 million 2.5%
31 National Police Defense Foundation $9.9 million $7.8 million 5.8%
32 American Association of the Deaf & Blind $10.3 million $7.8 million 0.1%
33 Reserve Police Officers Association $8.7 million $7.7 million 1.1%
34 Optimal Medical Foundation $7.9 million $7.6 million 1.0%
35 Disabled Police and Sheriffs Foundation $9.0 million $7.6 million 1.0%
36 Disabled Police Officers Counseling Center $8.2 million $6.9 million 0.1%
37 Children’s Leukemia Research Association $9.8 million $6.8 million 11.1%
38 United Breast Cancer Foundation $11.6 million $6.6 million 6.3%
39 Shiloh International Ministries $8.0 million $6.2 million 1.3%
40 Circle of Friends For American Veterans $7.8 million $5.7 million 6.5%
41 Find the Children $7.6 million $5.0 million 5.7%
42 Survivors and Victims Empowered $7.7 million $4.8 million 0.0%
43 Firefighters Assistance Fund $5.6 million $4.6 million 3.2%
44 Caring for Our Children Foundation $4.7 million $4.1 million 1.6%
45 National Narcotic Officers Associations Coalition $4.8 million $4.0 million 0.0%
46 American Foundation for Children With AIDS $5.2 million $3.0 million 0.0%
47 Our American Veterans $2.6 million $2.3 million 2.3%
48 Roger Wyburn-Mason & Jack M Blount Foundation For Eradication of Rheumatoid Disease $8.4 million $1.8 million 0.0%
49 Firefighters Burn Fund $2.0 million $1.7 million 1.5%
50 Hope Cancer Fund $1.9 million $1.6 million 0.5%

Another good article on this subject can be found here.

If you’ve made it this far in your reading, reply with a comment and tell me who your favorite charities are. I love the idea of supporting what is local and grassroots. Here in the Mid-Hudson Valley of New York, I’ve discovered some good ways to make charitable donations to support people dealing with cancer. To end on this positive note, here they are… (Thank you Barbara Sarah!)

The Gruner Fund has an annual bike ride that raises about $100,000 for cancer patients. EVERY PENNY goes to cancer patients to pay for food and/or gas. This years event is coming up on September 21st.

Oncology Support Program of Benedictine Hospital (OSP) has a Chesed Fund that helps out patients with unforeseen expenses.

Breast Cancer Options also raises money and provides information and support to breast cancer patients.

When in doubt, check it out! Charity Navigator is a great tool to investigate the ethical spending of your charity of choice.


sick of cancer

M.Eppard 2014


10 thoughts on “Think before you Pink”

  1. Everything you do makes a contribution to everyone……male, female, well or sick. It boggles my mind to think about how you refuse to let your reality stand in the way of your basic desire to share and educate the rest of us. I am in awe Melissa Eppard. Thank you

  2. Anything having to do with firefighters, ems…I am the wife on one and mom of one and one son is about to become a lawyer……so It’s near and dear to my heart.

  3. Bravo Melissa. You are a women with a voice, and thank you for speaking out on issues need to be heard, need to be shared. I too have been so upset with huge, large charities who spend almost all donations on “administrative” / “professional solicitors” which is so similiar to what goes on with the government & lobbyists. I refuse to be bullied, guilted, harassed into making donations when I receive the phone call, mailings, etc. I respond, “no thank you, I make all donations directly to the person, event, etc who is in need and I know the funds have gone where they are intended to go”….I do my homework. It is available to the public for those interested. I also am not a pink / pink ribbon person. I helps and works for some, but for not for me. Thank you for sharing,

  4. Well done and well said, Melissa! Charity Navigator is a good site for getting the scoop on any organization’s distribution of donated funds. It’s really important to know that our money is being used in the way we intended. Much love. My hand is always at your back….

  5. Great post Melissa! I stumbled upon this blog while checking out Joey’s Facebook page. I’m so sorry that you’re going through this!!
    I too was diagnosed in 2013 and have rebuked the color pink ever since. I’m not against the cause, but my heart has been called to raise funds and awareness with respect to suicide and how we can prevent it ever since I lost my beloved son, Anthony 3 years ago.
    You’re correct, Charity Navigator is a great tool when it comes to checking out how your contributions are applied. As a matter of fact the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention(AFSP) has received a 4 start rating (the highest you can receive) from them. AFSP’s CEO is dedicated to keeping administrative costs as low as possible.
    Much love and prayers to you and your family as you walk through this. Don’t give up the fight!

    1. Hi Diane,
      Thank you so much for your comment. I fondly remember your son and my heart goes out to you and your family for this tremendous loss. Breast cancer on top of that… sheesh! I hope you have fully recovered from that or are in a place of receiving good care. I’m going to get through this, I just know it! Big hug to you!

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