The president of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation describes the organization’s mission, growth, and fund-raising efficiency.
Myra Biblowitz: we are an organization that was founded in 1993 by Evelyn Lauder and we have a singular focus and that is to fund the best and most promising research on breast cancer around the world. We’ve been doing that for going on 15 years.
Well I command a merry band of 16 people, ardently dedicated to our singular focus of funding the best research and saving lives. At the end of the day we wanna raise as much money as we can every year and put it in the hands of researchers who are really pushing the envelope and trying novel ideas, seminal new ideas that can make a difference.
Question: How do you manage to pour so much money back into breast cancer research?
In fact it’s 92 cents on the dollar now, we continue to leave on our website, 85 cents is our pledge because if god forbid one year I can’t do as well, I don’t wanna be embarrassed but we have taken it slowly and steadily down from 85 to expenses of about 8%, eight cents on the dollar, you know, it’s not that hard. Uhm.. Evelyn Lauder our chairman and founder says if you watch the pennies, the dollars take care of themselves. We just run very lean, we look at every expense against every revenue potential and I don’t spend any money that I don’t have to spend. I’m very good at sinking my teeth into ankles and I’m very good at begging. We’re unique in that we have no endowment and we don’t
intend to have an endowment. So what we give away every year depends on what we raise afresh every year and that puts a lot of pressure on us. Most foundations have an endowment, they’re spending the income stream on the endowment. In our case we wanna go out of business, so I don’t wanna spend 5% of an invested corpus, I wanna pour the dollars, every year in total except for the small amount we have to husband to stay afloat into the researchers, into the labs, into the bedside to make a difference because we believe this is resolvable and so we’re spending today to save lives today and tomorrow. If you watch the dollars, you really can be very efficient and effective even with an office in Manhattan.
QUestion: : How has the organization grown so quickly?
Myra Biblowitz: Raising more money, when I came seven years ago the foundation was raising about eight million dollars a year and this year we’ll raise close to 40. So we have just pushed the envelope, when I came I said to Evelyn “I’ll do two things for you, I’ll raise more money and I’ll take the program internationally.” So from funding 40 researchers domestically, we’re funding now 151 around the globe with about 32 million dollars in grants and come this October we’ll make our next distribution, which will be about 35 million to probably at least 165 researchers. Insert Highlighted Section from Pages 3