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The Globe and Mail

Canadian Cancer Society spends more on fundraising than research: report

Volunteer Andrea Forbes arranges daffodils in preparation for the annual Canadian Cancer Society Daffodils Days in Peterborough, Ont. on Thursday, March 30, 2006.

CLIFFORD SKARSTEDT/CP PHOTO/Peterborough Examiner-Clifford Skarstedt

If you've been making steady donations to the Canadian Cancer Society over the past ten years, less and less of your donation has been going toward research, according to a new report from the CBC show Marketplace.

The CBC analyzed the charity's financial reports and found "that each year, as the society raised more dollars, the proportion of money it spent on research dropped dramatically - from 40.3 per cent in 2000 to under 22 per cent in 2011."

While the amount of money channelled toward research has increased slightly, as part of the charity's overall increasing budget, spending on fundraising and administration has been on the steady rise, according to the CBC.

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One Ontario cancer researcher said this should be a concern for those in the field:

"Most scientists don't realize that the budget has been going up and up, and donations have been growing, but the budget for research has been shrinking," Brian Lichty, a researcher at McMaster University who is looking into treating cancer with viruses that kill tumours, told the CBC.

"So they are surprised and disappointed when they find out that this is the case, and the trend."

These findings are the most recent to shine an uncomfortable spotlight on cancer fundraising. In April, another study pointed out that fundraising for breast cancer may be eclipsing fundraising for the most deadly cancers.

A group called Charity Intelligence Canada found that many of the cancers that take the most years of life from Canadians - pancreatic, stomach, lung and colorectal cancers - account for less than two per cent of cancer charity funding, while breast cancer charities attract almost half of those funds.

There have also been controversy recently about the methods some cancer charities use to raise funds, including the "booby bracelet" movement - especially among children and teens.

And then, this month saw the debut of Julyna, an eyebrow-raising charity effort linking bikini waxes with cervical cancer awareness.

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Is it time for the cancer fundraising community to sit down and rethink a few of its priorities? Do any of these reports make you consider shifting your giving plans in any way?

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