Tag Archives: charity fraud

Follow the Money Trail$: Keeping your Contributions Local

I had the chance to speak at a local fundraiser last night. Because we are on the cusp of going from Ovarian Cancer Awareness month to Breast Cancer Awareness month, I thought I would share what I read last night and tell you why it is so important to make charitable donations to your local community whenever possible. I feel SO incredibly lucky living here in the Hudson Valley of NY, to have the supportive programming of the Health Alliance Foundation Oncology Support Program. You don’t know what exists out there until you really need it.

Here is what I shared…

“My neighbor was recently diagnosed with cancer. Unlike me, he has no family; he is an older gentleman who lives alone with his dog. When we spoke, I could tell he was confused and overwhelmed by all the information his doctors threw at him. He has to travel 2 hours each way to get to some appointments. I could see in his face that he was sinking and I was grateful to be able to throw him a life preserver. I told him about the Health Alliance Oncology Support Program, about the social workers who will sit with him and come to appointments with him. His face lit up when I mentioned the possible assistance with gas and groceries. We didn’t even get into the healthy lifestyle and exercise classes, cooking and gardening programs, and great writing and art classes too. I know there are so many people like my neighbor who may struggle without the support of family and a network of friends. The Oncology Support Program is there for people like him.

I didn’t really come into the OSP fold when I was freshly diagnosed. I turned to writing my blog, Melissa’s Healing Hope, as a way to process and heal emotionally. I tried attending a group at OSP early on, but ­­ didn’t identify myself as a survivor because I hadn’t survived anything yet, that dark cloak of surgery and treatments still about to fall. While the ladies in the group were very kind, I felt out of touch as a younger person with cancer.

It was after treatment ended that I found myself back at the Oncology Support Program. With a head full of soft peach fuzz, I struggled to make my post cancer life fit into something recognizable. I wondered who I was now and how to continue living with this cloud of fear and uncertainty looming over me as a survivor of hereditary breast cancer. At that time I was acutely feeling the lack of a young women’s support group in the area and considered starting a group of my own when I learned that a new Young Women’s Support group had just formed at the OSP. ­I found harbor there. There was safety and a normalizing just being with people who KNOW… who get the sacrifices of being a younger person with cancer, who know the exquisite pain of uncertainty. In this space I began to no longer feel like I was barely surviving, but found my new footing as a Thriver!

Instead of getting lost in the “What-If’s of a post cancer life, what keeps me going is my mission to give back. I give what I have and that is my time. I do this through my work as a Life Coach holding space for other people’s search for a fulfilling and meaningful life, and in sharing my voice through writing. I have recently started to co-facilitate that same young women’s support group that was my safe harbor, and just this week completed the Nurturing Neighbor training program that offers peer mentorship to other people diagnosed with cancer. I can never un-do this cancer experience, and I will never be who I was before all of this, but I like to think that I now have this gift of experience and authentic compassion, that I can show up and be there for others who are diagnosed with cancer or met with other life challenges, so they won’t feel so isolated and alone.

But there are other ways, very tangible ways to give. Giving gives back to the Giver. When you support the Oncology Support Program through the Health Alliance Foundation your charitable contributions improve the lives of people living with cancer here in the Hudson Valley. Thank you!”

…So where is the need at and who is answering the call right in your own backyard? Find out how you can help. I have previously written about shady foundations  who pocket large percentages of charitable contributions. What I love about the Health Alliance Foundation is that 100% of the donations go directly to the local people it serves, so that residents of the Hudson Valley hopefully never have to choose between having a treatment or skipping it to pay the electric bill.

Thank you for taking the time to read this!

pink-ribbon

Advertisements

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.

choke

sick of cancer

M.Eppard 2014