“The Breast Cancer Donor’s Dilemma: Time to Revolt?” By Ellen Leopold, Truthout

Sixty years ago, the largest national health charities in the United States dominated the philanthropic playing field and were able to carve up the fundraising calendar year among themselves. Competing for their charitable dollars were what came to be called community chests. These were federations of often smaller charities that agreed to participate in one combined annual fundraising drive and divide up its revenues. Precursors of the United Way, such coalitions were thought to be a more cost-efficient means of conducting campaigns, minimizing overheads and other expenses. Chests not only trimmed the demand for volunteer workers; they also limited the potential for “donor fatigue”; contributors would buy themselves immunity from further appeals, at least for another year. But the landscape changed as large nonprofits started using the tactics of corporate self-interest to trump philanthropic purpose. A more streamlined model of fundraising, shorn of its cause marketing, overpaid executives and false promises might be a godsend to committed donors who have grown disenchanted with the wasteful and often misleading tactics of pink-ribbon crusaders.

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