Mission Breast Cancer Awareness and Eradication
Brenner says she often encounters people confused by the number of breast cancer organizations who wonder why they aren't all working together. The answer is simple, she says: "Because we have different strategies. We understand things differently. We think change happens in different ways ..."
Another challenge the organization faces has to do with its decision in 1998 to restrict the corporate contributions it could accept. For example, BCA will not take pharmaceutical funding due to the policy work it does and because it provides information to people about drugs and doesn't want to put forth a perception that its advice is in any way influenced by funding. The funding challenges of this decision are compounded by the fact that its restrictive corporate-contributions policy leads some to believe that it doesn't take any corporate money, which is untrue, Brenner adds.
"A lot of breast cancer nonprofits get a lot of money from the health industry, which means that we're sort of swimming against the tide," she says. The upside is that this stance is attractive to a lot of individual donors.
Brenner says that when the policy was first adopted, the organization made it known in its newsletter and it was covered in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute: "It was a big deal, and we got letters from people that said, 'Thank you. I wish I had a million dollars to give you,' and from other people that said, 'Are you out of your mind?'"
And we're a little bit out of our minds," Brenner says. "Because if we wanted to just no holds barred get the amount of money it would take to advance our mission to the place where we could go out of business, we couldn't have these restrictions."
While relying on funds from individual donors is a harder way to raise money, it's resulted in a very strong individual donor base. "Certainly the donors that I talk to ... completely understand, they appreciate it and to some degree will step up their support because they know that without this voice ... many things will not change," Brenner says. "Since I got here 10 years ago we've had 50 percent or more of our support come from individuals."