The Weekend to End Breast Cancer fundraising event to benefit The Princess Margaret -which has now evolved to become the Shoppers Drug Mart Weekend to End Women’s Cancers – has left me feeling turned off by non-profit charitable organizations.  The event, which is a 2-day 60 km walk, has always drawn a large participant base and is known for its high emotional quotient.  Get women and breast cancer together and there will be tears shed.

But there are two things this event requires that I find astounding and offensive:

  • Participants are required to raise a minimum of $2,000 if they are walking for the full 2 days (or $1,250 if they are walking for one day).
  • Volunteers have to pay a $25 registration fee.

Participants and volunteers alike are taking a weekend out of their life to support a cause that is important to them and you place outrageous demands on them like these?  I find the registration fee to be a volunteer is especially appalling.  They want you to give up a weekend for them and pay them for it?!  Princess Margaret would probably argue, “Well, we have to give them a nice T-shirt and that costs money.”

Well, who asked you to go out and produce T-shirts?  Why can’t volunteers just wear a pink Avery label on a plain white shirt (of their own) with their names handwritten?  And another thing: if the T-shirts are costing $25, you are a very poor buyer (and if they’re not costing $25, you are therefore making money off your volunteers – double shame!).

The participants – who start training up to a year before the event – have to raise a minimum of $2,000.  I appreciate that there should be a minimum fundraising target; these events are complex to organize and the whole point is to raise money for the cause.  But $2,000 for those who are not part of the elite (including the senior executives who work for these charities and who make 6-figure salaries) is very difficult money to come by.  Some cancer patients cannot even afford their own cancer treatments, how could you expect them to go out and ask others to give $2,000 for a charity event?  What could that possibly accomplish for their dignity?

A cancer survivor’s mother in Alberta wanted to walk with her daughter in their local Weekend to End Women’s Cancers event but was told she was not permitted to if she didn’t raise the $2,000, and if she walked anyway, the shortfall in funds raised would be charged to her credit card!  Who gives them that right?  That is immoral and bordering on the illegal.  Then they had the nerve to tell her that if she couldn’t raise the money, there were other events she could have participated in instead?! That is the talk of children’s playgrounds.

This kind of arrogance from a charity is really not becoming.  They should be so lucky that someone cared enough to want to participate, raise awareness and raise some funds on their own time and initiative.  It’s a shame because Princess Margaret is a world renowned, top-notch cancer research facility, very deserving of our funds.  But this does not give them the right to be bullies.  They’ve lost sight of their purpose.

And this completes today’s rant.