April is Daffodil Month, and you may be making a donation to fight cancer. But Canadians cash is not supporting the cancers with the highest fatality rates, according to a recent study that found large disparities between how lethal a cancer is and how much funding it receives. The four cancers that cause nearly half of cancer deaths (pancreatic, stomach, lung and colorectal) only receive two percent of our charity dollars, while breast cancer, which has a survival rate of 89 percent, gets 151 times more.
Why is this? Well, as the report by Charity Intelligence Canada (which performs independent research on charitable organizations) explains, charity donations (and research funding as well) don’t follow mortality. With the exception of children’s cancers, they follow incidence. More people donate to breast-cancer charities because more people know people who’ve had breast cancer — even if they did survive.
I’m torn on this. Although there’s probably a good argument to look critically at the best way to take action against breast cancer, charity’s for the giver as well as the recipient. If donating money, or participating in fundraisers, helps people feel like they’re fighting on behalf of someone they know — as it does for me and my mentor, Cynthia Brouse — then they’ll probably give more and get more out of it, too.