February 7, 2012; Source: Tampa Bay Times | The major breast cancer charities are so focused on fundraising, writes Deni Elliott in the Tampa Bay Times, that they have evidently forgotten that women needing services may be looking to them for references.

Elliott, who holds the Poynter Jamison Chair of Media Ethics and Press Policy at the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg, is working on a book to be titled What You Think You Know Can Kill You: Busting the Myths of Breast Cancer. She invites the reader to explore the websites of the wealthiest breast cancer charities to get a true reading of what matters to them. 

“The top 10 each claimed revenues of more than $4 million in 2010, according to the nonprofit watchdog Charity Navigator. The websites provide multiple ways to donate, participate in fundraisers, or consume for the cure from user-friendly one-click locations on the home page. But if you go to those websites as a woman who needs funding for a mammogram, you’ll have a far more frustrating search. Finding financial assistance for screening is certainly part of achieving the awareness that they all promote,” writes Elliot, but, “only one of the top 10, American Breast Cancer Foundation, provides a phone number for the individual who can’t afford a needed mammogram more prominently than providing an opportunity to donate.” And the only exception to this rule was given lousy marks by Charity Navigator for spending more than fifty cents of every dollar raised on fundraising and administrative costs.

Elliott notes that even Susan G. Komen for the Cure, which had revenues of $312 million in 2010, has nothing on its home page about where a woman in need might get financial assistance. Elliott suggests that, for both those seeking to get help and those wishing to offer financial support, it would be better to start by looking to local groups such as one’s local Planned Parenthood chapter. –Ruth McCambridge