Breast cancer: Now, donors can choose which research to support

September 29, 2013 | by Denise Heady

Breast cancer solicitations are everywhere this time of year, and they all say the same thing: Give money to support breast cancer research. But often, donors are unaware of just how that money is used. That can’t be said of the members of Circle 1500.

Circle 1500 at City of Hope lets members choose which breast cancer research projects to support. Circle 1500 at City of Hope lets members choose which breast cancer research projects to support.

This new fundraising – or rather, giving – group takes research personally.

Created by women, for women, to help ensure healthier futures for all, members of Circle 1500 actually choose which research project their combined funds will support. Men are welcome too, of course, but the circle was designed to encourage participants – many of whom have been touched by breast cancer – to come together to learn from each other, to share experiences and to grow.

“A giving circle gives members a feeling of ownership of their pooled resources, and it empowers them to be philanthropic in a directed, impactful way,” said Janet Morgan, senior director of development at City of Hope.

Circle 1500 held its kickoff meeting Sept. 19 – and the interest was gratifying, Morgan said. So many women seem to want to know not just where their money goes, but how it’s spent.

Each year, members of Circle 1500 will vote on one of several innovative research projects in the Women’s Cancers Program at City of Hope. They’ll also come together to share their own stories with each other, to learn about the disease and to best assess how their donations can make a difference. In doing so, they’ll discover the power of pooled philanthropy, where giving together as a group can have a bigger impact than as an individual.

Among the possible projects from which this year’s group will be able to choose: developing treatments with fewer and milder side effects, creating  medicines that more precisely target women’s cancers, exploring the cancer-fighting potential of superfoods such as mushrooms and blueberries,  and examining the ways women can reduce their risk of cancer.

Dana, a former breast cancer patient at City of Hope and founding member of Circle 1500, said the main goal for Circle 1500 is support City of Hope research on women’s cancers.

“When you join, you become an investor in women's cancers research,” said Reinisch. “As a member, you are invested and have a vote as to which women's cancers research project to fund.”

For her, like other members of the group, that ability to support specific research – to actually make a tangible difference in the fight against cancer – is extremely powerful.

“You’re not just giving blindly,” said Julie Campoy, another founding member of Circle 1500 and a former breast cancer patient at City of Hope. “You get to see the progress of your investment and see the impact it is making for our future and future generations.”

The group itself provides a forum for members, bringing them together four times a year not just to discuss and review information on cancer research but also to hear from experts on topics such as sexuality and life after cancer.

Circle 1500 is named after the address of City of Hope: 1500 E. Duarte Road, Duarte, Calif. Annual membership is $500 (fully tax-deductible), and members get the benefit of seeing their funds in action. At City of Hope, the Women’s Cancers Program brings together experts from across disciplines in dynamic collaborations. These collaborations result in the rapid translation of scientific discoveries into more effective treatments for breast and gynecological cancers.

Members can also choose to join the Founder’s Circle for $1,500 (fully tax-deductible), which includes basic membership benefits, along with invitation-only opportunities to interact with Women’s Cancers Program physicians and researchers.

“There is something very powerful in the way that women network and we are attempting to capitalize on that synergy,” Morgan said.

Join our breast cancer TweetChat on Tuesday, Oct. 15, noon to 1 p.m. PT.

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