Has NBCC Lost Its Way?
I’m currently reading letters sent to me by community college students in Utah who watched Pink Ribbons, Inc. and have questions about become activists. Many of these students wonder how they might become activists if they are poor. I will tell them that activism doesn’t require money. But the National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC) seems to think differently. And that is way too bad.
I’ve written about NBCC before. I even devoted a whole blog post to the organization,
entitled “NBCC: The Promise, the Process, and the Problems.. I stand behind everything I said in that post, but NBCC’s most recent move has me wondering whether the organization should shut its doors.
Here’s the deal. NBCC is known in the breast cancer world for, among other things, hosting an Annual Advocate Conference in the spring. People come to network, hear speakers and panel discussions on relevant breast cancer topics, get oriented on NBCC’s legislative agenda, and lobby members of Congress on that agenda. While I have never attended this
conference, I’ve heard lots of good things about it over the years. There was a fee for attending (that ranged from $125 to $245 depending on how far in advance you registered and whether you were an NBCC member or not) and scholarships were available.
This year NBCC has changed the name of its conference to “Breast Cancer Deadline 2020 Advocate Leadership Summit.” To attend, leaders have to raise or give a $1000 donation to NBCC. So, for the opportunity to lobby Congress on the ridiculous “breast cancer deadline” that NBCC has set, you have to pay big money.
I’m sure NBCC has a justification for this fundraising ploy, but it turns activism on its head. You shouldn’t have to be rich or have wealthy friends to be an activist or an “advocate leader.” What you need is heart and commitment, and others who share — or might be persuaded to share — your view of the world.
If NBCC is having money troubles, could it be an indication of doubt on the part of donors in the organization’s mission or direction? In any event, to try to solve money troubles on the backs of people who are working hard on breast cancer issues is wrong-headed. If this approach means many fewer people at the NBCC conference, maybe the organization will re-think its approach. In any case, NBCC is turning their conference into a very different event than it was. I have trouble believing this conference will be a success.
Whether it’s a success or not though, I firmly believe that to require a donation of $1000 for a breast cancer advocacy conference is simply wrong.
As 2020 approaches, I hope some people will remember that was the deadline that NBCC set to end breast cancer forever. If NBCC is still around then, ask them what happened to the deadline. Maybe it will die with this year’s conference.
© Barbara A. Brenner 2013