In 2012 a video shot to the top of the viral chart. It was put out by a non-profit company called, "Invisible Children." The video was about a man by the name of Joseph Kony and the atrocities of which he was committing a world away. The video was shared all over the world wide web, and the company that made the video found themselves with a more donations than they knew what to do with. The problem was that the Invisible Children, as an organization was promising only to, "to raise support for his arrest." That is to say, their goal as a company was to make people aware of him. They had succeeded with the viral video. The problem was that the money that came in was going to raise awareness and not to actually stop Joseph Kony.
Every year around this time (October) everyone puts on the pink shirt or ribbon or whatever it happens to be. The teenage boys put on the, "I heart boobies" bracelet with a little smirk on their faces and everyone supports the race for the cure. Everyone knows that Cancer is an evil thing, and everyone knows that when it comes to October, when it comes to breast cancer, the name to look up is Susan G. Komen. However, is this really about finding a cure, or is this about raising, "awareness"?
Susan G. Komen, as an organization was started when Nancy G. Brinker promised her dying sister she would do everything in her power to end breast cancer. And what a job she has done. In 1982 when the organization got off the ground, breast cancer wasn't even a blip on the map, now it seems that everyone is aware of it and awareness takes up the whole month of October. In 1982 early screenings and early detection were not done often enough, but things have been getting a lot better.
However, I feel that the company has lost their way. They are increasingly becoming more about, "awareness" than about finding a cure. Looking them up on Charity Navigator (a site I highly recommend you check out) you will see that nearly 80% of the donations given make it to the program, that's good right? Well, no, especially when you start to break down their expenses, what you find is that nearly 40% of their overall budget goes to, "Public Health Education" Out of their 300 million dollar budget, only about 20% goes to actual research, however, most of the research is on early stage with few grants going to late stage cancer research.
Beyond this, companies have started to use this awareness campaign to cash in. The NFL only donates their royalties to the company. What this means is that when you buy a $100 shirt it is possible that only $11.25 makes it to Susan G. Komen. It makes you wonder about some of the other companies out there selling pink.
As Christians it is important that we strive to make the world a better place. When God blesses us with money, we can bless others and donate to organizations. It is also important that our kids and grand-kids are aware of how we as Christians use money in this sense. However, it is also important that we be diligent in making sure that we are giving to the right causes. In 1982 giving to the cause of breast cancer awareness was a big deal and something that was much needed. Is it still today? I'll let you answer that, Susan G. Komen is still a descent organization, and does what it promises, but do those promises line up with where you want your money to go? As for me, my charity of choice for the month of October is Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Not only are they a researching foundation, but according to Charity Navigator over 90 cents from every dollar donated goes to research. If you do decide to donate to Susan G. Komen this year, the pink shirts are nice, but go to their webpage and donate directly to them, they get more money that way.