The Season of Giving: Breast Cancer Edition

‘Tis the season…of donating to charities. The Breast Cancer Research Foundation offers a great way to give to a community working hard to treat and ultimately end breast cancer. And there are many other nonprofits also working to educate the public and support research.

Unfortunately, we live in an age where giving to a charity isn’t as easy as it ought to be. If you’re looking to support breast cancer research and survivors this holiday season, here’s what you need to know.

Where should my donations go?

The Breast Cancer Research Foundation is a great place to start. With high-profile donors including Owl Rock’s Marc Lipschultz, Discovery Capital Management’s Rob Citrone, and billionaire media investor Herbert J. Siegel, the BCRF’s work draws the support of big names from all walks of life.

Other great foundations waiting for your donations: Living Beyond Breast Cancer, The National Breast Cancer Foundation, and The Breast Cancer Fund. (All of these organizations received a rating of three stars or higher from Charity Navigator.)

Should I go pink?

Every October, all manner of companies and organizations put out pink products and advertisements in honor of breast cancer survivors and those doing research on the disease. But how much good do these campaigns really do?

Getting to the truth can be tricky. Gayle Sulik, author of Pink Ribbon Blues: How Breast Cancer Culture Undermines Women’s Health, notes that a lot of these companies don’t actually donate anything to breast cancer charities. Instead, they “raise awareness”—a pretty vague notion. And some of these companies, Sulik writes, simultaneously produce products that can cause breast cancer even while they paint the walls pink.

“It doesn’t make much sense to buy pink ribbon products,” says Samantha King, author of Pink Ribbons, Inc.: Breast Cancer and the Politics of Philanthropy. “By doing so, you’re simply subsidizing corporate marketing campaigns. If you want to give, give directly to the breast cancer organization.”

And as an added bonus, when you give directly, you get the tax deduction—not the corporation.

What else should I look out for when donating?

  • Use websites like Charity Watch or Charity Navigator to check on the credibility of the organization you want to donate to. These sites can also tell you exactly where your money will go.
  • If you want to dig deeper, take a look at the nonprofit’s financial reports to get a feel for their health and habits.
  • Know that while donating money directly to an organization may not be sexy, it’s often the best way to go if you really want to help. Cash donations allow the nonprofit to direct the funds in a way that fits with their strategic plans.
  • Read the labels of any pink-ribbon-adorned merchandise you buy. You should be able to tell exactly how much money from the sale will go to which specific organization. If you can’t, don’t buy it.

This season is a great time to give to breast cancer organizations supporting research, survivors, sufferers, and their families. Just make sure you give some thought to where and how you want to donate!


Breast Cancer Awareness Purchases You Can Feel Good About

breast cancer awareness
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Image: via Facebook.

October is a big month for doing good and reaching out, as it is Breast Cancer Awareness month. You have probably found yourself bombarded with products from the beauty industry to bring attention and garner funds for a cure. While some are just pink and pretty, others truly are helping to make a difference.

Below are six products that either donate all sale proceeds to charity, or a small portion. No matter the size of the financial contribution, you are supporting the cause and women and men fighting this horrible disease.

  • Estee Lauder teamed up with Elizabeth Hurley and created the Dream Pink collection. It includes a lipstick, two nail polishes and a cute pink makeup pouch. With each purchase 20% of the retail price will go towards the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

breast cancer awareness products

  • Purchase Shiseido’s Dollface lip-gloss during the month of October and $5 will be donated to Cosmetic Executive Women’s Cancer and Careers arm, that helps working people living with cancer.
  • Jane Iredale has stepped things up in a big way with this one. Buy their ‘Smell the Roses Hydration Spray’ and 100% of its profits will go to Living Beyond Breast Cancer.
  • If you pick up Sonia Kashuk’s Proudly Pink Brush set from Target, they will donate 15% of the proceeds to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
  • Need a new lip gloss? Pick up Smashbox’s ‘Be Legendary’ lip gloss and $5 will go towards the Breast Cancer Awareness Foundation.
  • Nest has created a candle that was inspired by Evelyn Lauder’s work with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Picking up this candle with scents of warm sandalwood, garden roses and flowering pitoporum, will give 10% of proceeds to the foundation. Available at Lord & Taylor.
Organizations Profiles Resources

Rethink Breast Cancer Promotes T.L.C.

Rethink Breast-Cancer
IMG: via

Rethink is an anti-breast cancer initiative that focuses on the under-40 crowd. Based out of Canada, Rethink is striving to “foster a new generation of young and influential breast cancer supporters; infuse sass and style into the cause; and most importantly, respond to the unique needs of young (or youngish) women going through it.”

Part of what sets Rethink apart is its fear-free campaign style. It gets the message across in a positive way; it encourages young women to be active in tracking their own health without doing so in a way that makes them afraid to talk to their doctors if they need to. It also breaks apart from the incorrect assumption that breast cancer is an “older woman’s disease,” bringing light to the fact that many young women get breast cancer every year—and that their survival rates are lower than older women’s.

Rethink believes in a low overhead cost with high impact through creative entrepreneurialism. When people donate to Rethink, 100% of that money goes toward paying for education, support and research programs. They also bring in money through corporate partner sponsorships, fundraising events, and the Fashion Targets education campaign. They provide full financial information on their website.

A glance at Rethink’s “Who We Are” page makes it no surprise that the campaigning they’ve done is targeted at women under 40. Of the thirteen bios listed on the page, only one of them is male—and all of them are young and full of passion.

As part of their latest campaign, Rethink put out a video that encourages regular monthly breast health self-examinations in three simple steps: Touch, Look, and Check, or T.L.C. The ad featured several good looking young men who are promoting the group’s award winning (and free!) Your Man Reminder App, which sends women monthly reminders to check their breasts. The app features include Hot Video Messages, Reminders, Risk Reduction, Education, Get Checked, and Man-O-Gram.

Profiles Resources

Olivia Newton-John Profile

oliva newton john
IMG: Featureflash /

Most people know Olivia Newton-John for her voice and her role opposite John Travolta in Grease. But since her Hollywood days, Olivia has connected with some of the more important things in life—like staying alive. A breast cancer survivor, Olivia Newton-John has spent much of her time in recent years supporting the cause.

“I am committed and excited about educating and encouraging women to take a positive role in their breast health,” the UK-born, Australian-raised singer says on her website. Though she’s won several awards for her incredible musical talent, performance is taking a back seat to philanthropy these days.

In the 90s, Olivia was diagnosed with and overcame breast cancer. After that battle, she produced GAIA, an album both self-penned and produced. It reflected upon her personal experiences with cancer and was the beginning of her openness with the public about her bout with cancer. Since then, she has been one of the most transparent celebrities promoting public awareness, education, and early detection.

Olivia Newton-John eventually partnered with Austin Health to create the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre (ONJCWC) in Melbourne, Australia. The ONJCWC includes facilities for treatment, education, training, and research and opened in June of 2012.

In order to fundraise for the center, “Olivia led a team of fellow cancer survivors, celebrities and Olympians on a trek along the Great Wall of China,” which raised over $2 million. She has fundraised on a global scale and has been recognized by the American Red Cross, the Environmental Media Association, the Women’s Guild of Cedar’s Sinai Medical Center, the Rainforest Alliance and Concept Cure for her philanthropic involvement.

Most recently, Olivia Newton-John launched the Liv Aid, which is a breast self-examination aid that helps women complete self-exams correctly. In doing so, she helps to catch more cases of breast cancer early and encourage women to take an active role in their breast health.

“I think when you go through an experience like cancer, it makes you really aware of vulnerability and your humanity,” she says. “And I think, as you get older, it’s a natural part of life to want to give back and help. And I’ve been so blessed in my life, and I’m so grateful for all I do have, giving back is just natural. It seems natural, don’t you think?”