Non Profit Profiteering

My mother died of breast cancer and all its complications earlier this year, and just before she did, my sister, the elder of two, discovered she had stage three, at exactly the same age my mother was diagnosed. Not a fun start to 2012, but recently, and after three months of intensive chemo and two months of radio therapy, my sister ran a 5K aptly named the Walk for Life. She raised 1300 pounds sterling and ran or walked with a picture on her back showing my mother, and my niece alongside herself, in a show of togetherness for my mother’s 20 years of suffering. I was immensely proud of them all, but it got me to thinking that something isn’t right with all these charities, and there are so many of them, who claim to raise funds for those who we seek to cure, but where is that cure, and why is it talking so long and so much to find that miracle?

Let’s talk about Breast cancer, and right now, especially where I live, here in San Francisco; it’s had devastating effects on a tremendous number of people and their families.

A current list of charities vying for our dollars, which we try even harder to earn, include, (and I hasten to add, these are in no particular order and with no bias whatsoever)

Susan G Komen


American Cancer Society

Dana-Farber Cancer

Breast Cancer Connection

The Rose, to name but 6 of dozens, all nicely judged by a ‘star rating” guide, available on our ever so friendly Internet search engines.

With all this competition, and this is only the USA, I couldn’t understand why someone, anyone, wouldn’t try to pool all the resources created from so many supposedly good causes and form one large agency with one minimally sized administration department, rather than carry on in the fragmented manner we see today. How much of each dollar we donate actually goes to funding a cure? How many so-called ‘executives’ are employed, probably unnecessarily, by our cash donations? It’s a reasonable question to ask and it’s not only confined to breast cancer, it’s a question that should be answered right across the board, from cancer to AIDS to saving dogs and cats?

All of these organizations have employees, some more than others, but I beg to ask the question, why? What if we were to get rid of the majority of people who run these non profit corporations, and took every dollar donated, or at least as much as is humanly possible, directing it towards funding that cure that we all believe it was going to in the first place? Wouldn’t that be something? Do you know what percentage of each dollar you donate goes to admin or to executive expense or self-promotion? Would you like to know? I would. These large ‘non profits’ have become huge conglomerates whose expenses outweigh their contributions for the cures they claim to support. This information is readily available on line and if you look hard enough, you can find out who has a thirst for doing the right thing and who is just there to promote their charity as another ‘brand’, seeking publicity and fame from other peoples suffering. It’s disgusting, and we, the American people, should think twice before we donate to any charity, until we have done the math. My sister and all the others who are sick or indeed have survived, require as much money as is humanly possible, donated to a real source for a real cure, and not to some farcical shop front claiming that by walking 100 miles or cycling for 10 days, we will make such a huge difference to someone less fortunate that us. Life is about helping others, others who need real help and not about self-promotion or the support for conglomerates that hide behind the pretense of assistance. All charities start out with the greatest of intentions, but it’s where they have ended up that is important. Charities are supposed to be charitable, charities are supposed to be there for those who need help, charities are set up for the transfer of money by volunteers, to a source that is recognized as being needy or deserving of that support. They say charity begins at home, but I say charity should remain in the hands of all those men and women who walk, run, bike, swim and most importantly toil, to obtain their well earned donations. Let the people speak and let the people decide and let those companies who are ‘administration heavy’ become the lean, charitable, caring non profits they started out and intended to be.
We need a cure, we need it now, not tomorrow, and the only way we can guarantee that we have given our all is by making sure every penny of every dollar goes towards those who are battling every day to find that cure.

2 thoughts on “Non Profit Profiteering

  1. Great post Alan. Maybe these charities SHOULD be for profit. Every public company out there is accountable for how they spend their money and what the results are — and if they don’t deliver results, their shareholders sell and eventually they get bought by someone who is successful. If these fund raising organizations had the same public scrutiny, maybe we’d see more results. How much money does it cost to do the TV ads promoting the charity walks anyway? Very thought provoking post. Thanks for making us think.

  2. I would even go one step further, and say that it is NOT in these companies’ best interest to find a cure. If there were a cure, there would be no reason to collect more money from generous donors. Whenever I bring up this argument, I get the response, “people are living longer with these diseases because they are finding better “treatments”. When you have an “incurable”, life-threatening ailment, a better treatment, is simply not enough.

    I hope lots of people read your post!

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