Most of you have probably seen the Breast Cancer Action “4 Questions” campaign that was released last week. The focus is on four questions we should each be asking before we participate in community cancer (or really any fundraising) walk to ensure we know exactly what is happening with the money we are working so hard to raise.
1. How much money raised from the walk will go to breast cancer programs?
2. What breast cancer programs will the walk fund?
3. Do the walk’s sponsors increase women’s risk of breast cancer?
4. Does the walk present a one-sided picture of breast cancer that leaves some women out?
Full disclosure: I’ve done the walks. Moreover, I’ve enjoyed the walks – both the training with friends and the community that is created during the event. And I know I’m not alone. The walks foster a sense of hope, pride and possibility. But it comes with a price, and so the focus of this effort is to take a look at the price and make a cognitive decision.
As someone who has been involved in nonprofits for a quarter of a century, I’m no stranger to the issue of donor dollars, and my goal is to maximize the use of my contributions for the things that matter most to me. Getting the answers to these four questions will help you do just that. While I can readily tell you where my breast cancer priorities lie (RESEARCH!!!), your hard-earned dollars should support what’s most important to you – and you should know which organizations are doing that!
Ironically – or not – it’s just the time of year when, as Jews, we turn to questions as we prepare for the Passover holiday celebration. Questions are a highlight of the meal – posed by the youngest, to be answered by the group assembled. The questions we pose during the holiday meal are, like BC Action’s questions, an invitation to dig deeper, to learn more, to teach others, and to add meaning to what can otherwise become rote behaviors. Questions become a path for all to participate, engage and challenge one another.
And for me personally: How does a donation/participation impact the metastatic breast cancer community?
My sense is that the pendulum is swinging, with renewed awareness of those of us living with the fatal form of the disease and our unique needs among breast cancer patients. So it is an excellent time to leverage that momentum!
Many have begun to question sensibilities of celebrating the disease that is killing us, the impact of the “party” atmosphere walks envelop, and the impact of misinformation that is perpetuated. Let’s keep those questions coming, too.
- Let’s ask how much is going to support the 30% of patients who become metastatic.
- Let’s ask about attention paid to recurrence and what early stage patients know about their risks.
- Let’s ask about support services that include late-stage patients, including complementary medicine.
- Let’s ask about the balance of research for preventative vs life-prolonging treatment.
Ask questions. Expect answers.