How Do You Decide Where to Donate?

Everything Changes — By on October 15, 2009 at 2:09 pm


I was recently asked how I decide what organizations to make donations to.  Here’s my answer:

I try to remove my emotions from the equation and not focus on my cancer story. Instead I look for a bird’s eye view on the situation.  I act like a business person making good investment decisions.  I ask: What is the biggest problem facing the cancer community right now?  How can more cancer deaths be prevented?  What will give the most bang for my buck?

I was blown away a few years back when the head of the American Cancer Society said that increased access to health insurance could reduce cancer mortality rates just as much as scientific research.  That is HUGE.  I’m big on doing smart scientific research, but if we develop treatments and preventative protocols that nobody can afford to access then what’s the point?

Compared to the enigma of finding a cure for cancer, getting health coverage to all Americans seems pretty doable in a short period of time. So, this year I’m only donating to organizations that are doing education, outreach, and action in support of the public option.  Unfortunately, I don’t know of any young adult cancer organizations, or even general cancer organizations doing the work necessary to pass meaningful health insurance reform that will truly give access to all Americans. So my donations of time and/or money will be going to great organizations like Illinois based Campaign For Better Health Care, and the national organization Health Care for America Now.

In the past I’ve supported young adult cancer organizations but this time around, I’m not focusing on quality of life issues – we need quantity of life first, and lots of us are dying because we are being screwed by private insurance companies.  Young adults are especially affected because we can’t hack the cost of insurance on entry-level job salaries or while working internships.  I’m tired of us complaining about how to afford treatment.  I want to do something about it.

Lastly, before writing a check to any org, I research their rating on Charity Navigator, and I call and ask the org for a detailed copy of their annual budget.  (If they won’t give it to me, they don’t get my check.) I want to make sure they’re spending their money on actual services and operations, not just on marketing and promoting their name.  I also ask myself if their services are really needed or if another org is doing the same job better.

How do you decide who to donate to?  What organizations do you think are benefiting the most people?

For tips on how best to make a difference in the cancer community read Everything Changes: The Insider’s Guide to Cancer in Your 20s and 30s.

Excerpt from:
How Do You Decide Where to Donate?

Please check out Kairol’s book “Everything Changes: The Insider’s Guide to Cancer in Your 20’s and 30’s” at by clicking here.

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