Research Outline

Breast Cancer Fundraising


To obtain a breakdown of how money raised for breast cancer is spent, with details on research/treatment/cures versus education and reconstruction support, as well as other available metrics on spending.

Early Findings

Data Availability

  • The initial round of research indicates that data surrounding how money raised for breast cancer is divided between research/treatment/cures and education & reconstruction is limited. While there is data on what percentage of specific charities' spending goes toward program expenses, a further breakdown of those details does not go into details on research/treatment versus education and reconstruction support. We have therefore pivoted the research to look for other helpful findings relevant to the project goals. This is reflected in our findings and the research paths below.

Top Rated Breast Cancer Charities

  • According to Charity Navigator, there are 15 breast cancer charities with a 4-star rating. Ratings are determined by looking at organizations' financial health and accountability & transparency. There are seven metrics related to financial health and 17 related to accountability & transparency.
  • The fifteen charities with 4-star ratings are the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, The Rose, SHARE, Bay Area Cancer Connections, American Italian Cancer Foundation, National Breast Cancer Foundation, Living Beyond Breast Cancer,, Lynn Sage Cancer Research Foundation, Casting for Recovery, Sharsheret, Breast Cancer Alliance, It's the Journey, Florida Breast Cancer Foundation, and Metavivor.

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

  • In 2019, "$323.4 million was raised through philanthropy." This represented about 16.5% (323.4/1960.0) of total revenue for the fiscal year.
  • Because Dana-Farber is a non-profit that also provides patient services, it is difficult to obtain a breakdown of how donations alone are spent.

National Breast Cancer Foundation

  • In 2019, the Foundation had total revenue of $16.7 million.
  • Major expenses broke down as follows: $1.8 million for grants to organizations, $1.4 million for grants to individuals, $792 thousand for officer and director compensation, $2.3 million for other salaries and wages, $6.5 million for advertising and promotion, and $1.2 million for the GIK event.
  • The Form 990 does provide a list of grant recipients along with the purpose of the grant which could provide a further breakdown of the grant money.
  • In a 2016 article, the foundation reported that "a minimum of 85 cents goes to research and awareness programs," for each dollar donated.


  • Initial research indicates that data on the specific breakdown for research/treatment versus education and reconstruction support is not likely to be publicly available. The details that are available are generally those provided in the Form 990 that nonprofits in the US are required to file. The data provided above for the National Breast Cancer Foundation gives an idea of the categories that spending data is available for. These are grants, compensation (including benefits), advertising & promotion, office expenses, travel, and events.
  • As there was no data that summarized spending for breast cancer charities as a whole, we are recommending that we break down the spending for each of the charities rated 4-stars by Charity Navigator. This would be done based on the most recent Form 990 filed for each charity. If desired, this could be entered into a spreadsheet so the charities could be easily compared.