9 Best Charities That Advance Cancer Research (Complete 2024 List)

9 Best Charities That Advance Cancer Research (Complete 2024 List)

By
Alycia O'Dell

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In 2024, there will be around 2 million new cases of cancer in the US. Moreover, an estimated 611,720 people– about 1,680 per day– will die from the disease. Though the statistics are concerning, charities around the world are actively combating cancer through research aimed at enhancing the prevention, detection, and treatment of various cancers, as well as improving the quality of life for those battling the disease. So, we had to ask: what are the best charities that advance cancer research?

The best charities that advance cancer research are the American Association for Cancer Research and the American Cancer Society. Charities such as The V Foundation and The Mark Foundation work to fund innovative research into new and improved cancer treatments.

Whether you want to support research to improve the quality of life for lung cancer patients, help discover causes of pediatric cancer, or fund an oncology startup dedicated to the next generation of cancer research, there is a charity for you. Keep reading to learn more about what the best charities that advance cancer research are all about, how they work, and what your best way would be to contribute.

Here’s What All the Best Charities That Advance Cancer Research Have in Common

The charities on this list were chosen based on their mission, impact, transparency ratings, and achievements. The majority of these charities operate primarily throughout the US and Canada, but some advance cancer research internationally.

Many of these charities focus on advancing research to eventually eradicate all forms of cancer. Others focus on specific types of cancer, like lung cancer, breast cancer, and skin cancer.

Some of these organizations concentrate on identifying the causes of cancer to enhance prevention and early diagnosis, while others strive to improve the short and long-term quality of life for cancer patients.

Yet, they all share a common goal; to minimize the devastating effects of cancer and eradicate it for good.

These Are the 9 Best Charities That Advance Cancer Research in 2024

Below are our favorite charities that advance cancer research (you can click on their link to directly jump to their section in this article):

(At the end of this article we’ll also share our six-step approach on how you can select the best charity to support.)

1

American Association for Cancer Research: Cure through Collaboration

Logo for American Association for Cancer Research
The AACR: Driving Progress Against Cancer

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Their transparency & ratings:

The American Association for Cancer Research holds a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator.

Finding cures together.”

American Association for Cancer Research

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What they do:

The American Association for Cancer Research advances cancer research by funding cancer and related biomedical research and rapidly disseminating new findings to the scientific community. For example, in 2015, they launched AACR Project GENIE, a database utilized by 19 leading international cancer centers to promote collaboration and precision medicine. Furthermore, their annual AACR Cancer Progress Report advocates for increased federal funding for entities like the National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute, and the Centers for Disease Control, driving progress against cancer.

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, the American Association for Cancer Research has significantly advanced the field of cancer research. Since 1993, they have awarded more than $540 million in grants to fund research projects across the spectrum of cancer science, from basic to clinical research. And, in 2008, they partnered with the Entertainment Industry Foundation to form Stand Up to Cancer, a fundraising initiative to accelerate progress against cancer. The initiative has since raised over $240 million.

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to the American Association for Cancer Research via their website. You can also attend an event or volunteer.

2

American Cancer Society: Diverse Research for Diverse Patients

Logo for American Cancer Society
Cancer Research | American Cancer Society - Attacking from every angle

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Their transparency & ratings:

The American Cancer Society holds a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator as well as a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar

“Attacking cancer from every angle.”

American Cancer Society

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What they do:

The American Cancer Society’s research initiatives drive progress toward eliminating cancer, prioritizing the quality of life for patients and survivors. Their grants support groundbreaking cancer research led by promising scientists and healthcare professionals, particularly those in the early stages of their careers. For example, in 2023, they allocated $45 million for 90 research and career development grants across 67 institutions nationwide, aiming to discover new cancer treatments and address disparities associated with the disease.

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, the American Cancer Society has impacted the lives of millions of people living with cancer. Since 1946, they have invested $5 billion in cancer research, making them the largest non-governmental funder of cancer research in the US. And, they have funded 50 researchers who later earned the Nobel Prize, underscoring the excellence of their research program and the robustness of its peer-review process.

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to the American Cancer Society via their website. You can also sign up to fundraise with Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, or you can volunteer with ACS Reach to Recovery.

3

The V Foundation: Victory Over Cancer

Logo for The V Foundation
Help Us Achieve Victory Over Cancer

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Their transparency & ratings:

The V Foundation holds a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator as well as a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.” The V Foundation

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What they do:

The V Foundation invests in game-changing research and promising scientists to combat cancers affecting adults and children. Through a competitive selection process, the V Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Committee awards grants to the most promising people and projects across various cancer types. For example, the charity supports pediatric cancer research through grants funded by the Dick Vitale Fund for Pediatric Cancer. These grants aim to develop new therapies tailored for pediatric cancer patients and reduce cancer treatment’s long-term effects.

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, the V Foundation has awarded over $353 million in research grants to leading cancer centers and research facilities across the US, helping avert an estimated 3.8 million cancer deaths. In 2022 alone, they awarded 107 grants across multiple disciplines, including 22 grants for pediatric cancer research, 58 grants to support young researchers, and 18 translational grants focused on clinical trials.

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to the V Foundation’s Dick Vitale Fund for Pediatric Cancer via their website. You can also purchase branded merchandise or support a fundraiser.

4

The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research: The Next Generation of Cancer Research

Logo for The Mark Foundation
The Mark Foundation plans to spend $500 million on cutting-edge cancer research

Their impact and transparency ratings:

The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research holds a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator as well as a Silver Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

“Accelerating the next generation of revolutionary cancer research.”

The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research

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What they do:

The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research advances cancer research by funding the innovative work of individual investigators, research teams, and early-stage companies around the world. For example, their Drug Discovery Partnership awards expedite the process of turning promising scientific discoveries into effective therapeutics to benefit cancer patients. Other examples include their ASPIRE Awards, which support cancer research that falls outside the scope of traditional funding opportunities, and their Endeavor Awards, which support projects that bring together scientists with diverse areas of expertise. 

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research has funded more than $220 million in grants and awards to investigators at over 100 academic institutions across 16 countries, facilitating groundbreaking discovery, translational, and clinical research spanning various cancer types. Additionally, their growing portfolio of investments in oncology companies includes eight startups specializing in cancer therapeutics and diagnostics, half of which originated from research grants administered by the Foundation.

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research via their website. You can also stay up to date by reading their newsletter or attending an event.

5

Breast Cancer Research Foundation: Investing in the Cure

Logo for Breast Cancer Research Foundation
Research Is the Reason 2021

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Their transparency & ratings:

The Breast Cancer Research Foundation holds a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator as well as a Gold Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

“Research is the reason.”

Breast Cancer Research Foundation

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What they do:

The Breast Cancer Research Foundation advances cancer research by providing critical funding in the fight against breast cancer. They address the disease’s complexity by investigating various aspects to ensure all details are considered. For example, their tumor biology research analyzes the anatomy of cancerous tumors to better understand how they react to different treatments. Additionally, their heredity and genetics research focuses on how family history, race, and ethnicity impact one’s breast cancer risk, while their metastasis research analyzes the spread of deadly cancers.

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation has raised over $1 billion to end breast cancer, making them the world’s largest private funder of breast cancer research. Investigators supported by the charity have been involved in every major breakthrough in breast cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment, metastasis, and survivorship during that time. For example, a study conducted by Dr. Nancy Lin led to the approval of Tukysa (tucatinib), as the first-ever drug to treat HER2-positive breast cancer that has spread to the brain. 

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation via their website. You can also contribute by fundraising, shopping pink, or attending an event.

6

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital: Caring and Healing for Children

Logo for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
Because of St. Jude

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Their transparency & ratings:

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital holds a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator as well as a Silver Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

No child should die in the dawn of life.”

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

⚒️

What they do:

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital advances cancer research through their Department of Epidemiology and Cancer Control. For example, their Cancer Control and Survivorship Program enhances the well-being of pediatric cancer survivors through clinical, genetic, and observational research. Furthermore, they are the first and only comprehensive cancer center for children designated by the National Cancer Institute. Other cancer research programs include Developmental Biology and Solid Tumor, Neurobiology and Brain Tumor, and Hematological Malignancies.

🚀

What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital has become known as one of the world’s premier pediatric cancer research centers. Their pediatric cancer research has helped to push the overall survival rate for childhood cancer from 20% to over 80%, and they are responsible for some of the most significant developments in the field’s history. For example, in 2010, they launched the Pediatric Cancer Genome Project, the world’s largest effort to comprehend challenging pediatric cancers.

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital via their website. You can also participate in a fundraiser or volunteer at a chapter in your community.

7

Lung Cancer Research Foundation: Improving Outcomes for Lung Cancer Patients 

Logo for Lung Cancer Research Foundation
Together

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Their transparency & ratings:

The Lung Cancer Research Foundation holds a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator as well as a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

Living. Breathing. Science.”

The Lung Cancer Research Foundation

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What they do:

The Lung Cancer Research Foundation improves outcomes for patients with lung cancer by funding research for the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and cure of lung cancer. Each year, they sort through hundreds of applications and proposals covering a diverse array of research topics, and select the most promising and innovative researchers to receive grants. Furthermore, they collaborate with various advocacy groups to support research on lesser-known variations of lung cancer, like ALK-positive and EGFR-positive.

🚀

What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, the Lung Cancer Research Foundation has allocated nearly $43 million in funding across 416 research grants, marking the largest research investment by a nonprofit organization exclusively devoted to funding lung cancer research. With the Lung Cancer Research Foundation’s support, over 100 institutions across 5 countries have made strides against lung cancer.

Ways to contribute:

You can donate directly to the Lung Cancer Research Foundation through their website. You can also support the charity by joining one of their Free to Breathe fundraising events.

8

National Pediatric Cancer Foundation: Collective Effort for Faster Solutions

Logo for National Pediatric Cancer Foundation
About the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation

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Their transparency & ratings:

The National Pediatric Cancer Foundation holds a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator as well as a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

Rise up for a faster cure.”

National Pediatric Cancer Foundation

⚒️

What they do:

The National Pediatric Cancer Foundation funds research and clinical trials to improve existing cancer treatments and to find better ones. For example, they bring together scientists and researchers from different fields to streamline research through their Sunshine Project. Furthermore, their Sunshine Lab tests new compounds and combinations of drugs to help children who have yet to experience positive results with existing treatments.

🚀

What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, the National Pediatric Cancer Institute has dedicated over $37 million to cancer research, including the development of a vaccine to treat high-grade gliomas in children. Furthermore, their Sunshine Project has grown to include over 150 top scientists and researchers at over 30 pediatric cancer institutes in the US. 

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation via their website. You can also support the charity by volunteering locally, participating in an event, or by fundraising.

9

Melanoma Research Foundation: Fighting Cancer, Supporting Patients

Logo for Melanoma Research Foundation
MRF 20th Anniversary Video

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Their transparency & ratings:

The Melanoma Research Foundation holds a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator as well as a Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.

[Eradicating] melanoma by accelerating medical research while educating and advocating for the melanoma community.”

The Melanoma Research Foundation

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What they do:

The Melanoma Research Foundation advances cancer research by funding projects aimed at eradicating melanoma as well as educating and advocating for the melanoma community. For example, in 1998, they established their MRF research grants program for investigator-initiated research overseen by the foundation’s Scientific Advisory Committee. These grants support research at all stages, from medical students to senior investigative teams. Moreover, their research extends beyond the prevalent cutaneous melanoma to include rare types such as uveal, mucosal, and pediatric melanoma.

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What they’ve achieved:

Since their founding, the Melanoma Research Foundation has provided more than $23 million to fund life-saving research. In 2022 alone, they awarded 27 grants, totaling over $1.9 million. And, as part of their commitment to supporting patients with rare forms of melanoma, they launched the VISION Platform in 2021, which keeps patients updated on current clinical trials and research initiatives.

Ways to contribute:

You can donate to the Melanoma Research Foundation via their website. You can also participate in an event or volunteer.

How Can You Select the Best Charities to Support?

The charities on the list are, we deem, the best charities that advance cancer research. However, you may have a particular charity you want to support. Let’s look at what you can do to ensure your contribution has the most significant impact.

  • Check out the charity website. Charities that are worthy of your donations are transparent in their mission and their figures. Familiarise yourself with their history, mission, and values. Their website usually is the best place to start.
  • Identify the charity’s mission. Without a goal, the charity is likely to fail. If the charity’s mission isn’t clear, it’s probably worth looking for a charity that does have a clear mission. 
  • Check if the charity has measurable goals. An effective charity has clear goals. You want to know your donation will help the charity reach its goals. But if it doesn’t have targets, it’s likely to fail or squander your gift. The charity should be able to account for its spending and supply evidence of the work they do.
  • Assess the successes or goals the charity has achieved. You wouldn’t invest in a business if it kept missing its targets. In the same way, charities are like this too. If no one is assessing a charity’s progress in reaching its targets, the chances are they’re not making a substantial positive change.
  • Check the charity’s financials and stats. Trustworthy organizations will publish financial statements and reports each year. Some might be exempt from having to do so, but they should be able to provide them to public members who are interested in donating.
  • Locate sources who work with or benefit from the charity. Word of mouth and first-hand experience of a charity’s work lets you know the charity’s quality. If you’re able to do so, check out the charity for yourself or speak to someone familiar with it. This way, your donation will go to the right place. 

How Can You Best Support These Charities?

After you’ve made your decision, it’s time for you to decide on how you’d like to help the charities you’ve chosen. Check how you can help – each charity runs specific programs that have unique aims. Find out what the aim of such programs is and whether they are right for you. 

Here are a few ways you can help your chosen charity:

  • Donate money. You can find donation pages on the websites of most charities. Your donation can be a one-time payment, or you can set it to be deducted regularly at different intervals. You can mostly pay via credit card, but some charities also take PayPal or Bitcoin payments.
  • Buy their official merchandise. Charities can also raise money by selling merchandise. So, you can support them by buying the mugs, shirts, caps, pens, pencils, and any other such items they may be selling. Ideally, you should buy as much as you can to share and spread the word about the charity’s activities.
  • Engage in volunteer work. As you’ve seen from our descriptions above, some charities engage in a lot of local and grassroots programs. You can help by taking on and organizing the program in your local area.
  • Help their fundraising efforts. You can spread the word about the charity in your workplace, school, church, etc., and hold creative fundraising drives on social media or offline within your small circles.
  • Share their stories. Most charities have compelling stories that you can share with your audience to attract more people to the cause.

Final Thoughts

Now it is up to you to select the charity that resonates most with you. And whichever charity you end up choosing and contributing to, we are sure that they will immensely appreciate your support. Hopefully, the information within this article has made this selection process a bit easier for you to support charities dedicated to advancing cancer research—based on the causes that matter most to you.

Stay impactful,

Illustration of a signature for Alycia

PS: Finally, I want to leave you with a thought-provoking TED talk from Dan Pallotta, a leading philanthropic activist and fundraiser, about what is wrong with the way we think about charities – and what we can do about it:

The way we think about charity is dead wrong | Dan Pallotta

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