There’s also a misconception that all breast cancer organizations are related to the American Cancer Society, according to Shawn Van Gorder, director of Charity Evaluation at the Better Business Bureau. With so many breast cancer charities, donors need to know how to make sure their money is going to the cause they want it to.

Experts Tips On The Smart Way To Donate

• Make sure the organization is a 501(c) 3. Entities with a 501(c)(3) designation are considered a charitable organization, and according to the IRS, “The organization must not be organized or operated for the benefit of private interests, and no part of a section 501(c)(3) organization’s net earnings may inure to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual.”

• Request or find an organization’s 990. Miniutti says donating to public charities will help qualify for a tax deduction and means at minimum, the organization is required to file a form 990.  This information is available on Charity Navigator and will detail how much the charity is investing in its mission versus fundraising and its administrative costs. Miniutti advises a good benchmark to look for is at least 75% of funds going to programs.

• Think twice before giving on the spot. If you are asked by a cashier, telemarketer or someone on the street to donate to a charity, Styron said to be wary. “Generally speaking, only about one-third of what you donate to a telemarketer gets to charity,” she says. “Don’t respond to telemarketing calls or feel pressured to give on the spot.” Experts warn against donating while checking out at a drug store or supermarket, since “awareness” is often used interchangeably with “research.” The same goes for direct mail solicitation, which can oftentimes be considered “awareness,” as long as there is some type of educational information presented in the message.

• Read the fine print. When purchasing products that support charities, Miniutti advising reading to find out which charity is receiving the funds, what percentage it will get and if there is a cap on the donation amount. The company may have already made its donation, and the money may be going to the company, not the cause.

• Research large events like walks and dinner events. While major events can serve as a morale boosters and a great way to spread awareness, they are oftentimes inefficient. According to Miniutti, the effectiveness of an event like a formal dinner and walk all depends on the overhead costs associated with running it. She says walks tend to have less overhead, there is a benefit to being together and a call to action to do something, and a ton of money generally winds up back in the charity’s hands.

Also, Styron says to remember that most of the money being raised in these events is for awareness, not research.

“Part of what they are trying to accomplish is breast cancer awareness. If you are someone participating in these events and think that everything you raise is somehow going to research, you are wrong.”

Breast Cancer Fundraising: Where Does All That Money Go?  was originally published on

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