The St. Baldrick's Foundation is a volunteer and donor powered charity committed to supporting the most promising research to find cures for childhood cancers and give survivors long and healthy lives.
The St. Baldrick's Foundation funds the most promising cancer research just for kids. St. Baldrick's is the top non-government funder of childhood cancer research grants in the U.S. and around the world. Each year, thousands of volunteers worldwide organize fundraisers, such as our signature head-shaving events, to raise money to support life-saving childhood cancer research. St. Baldrick's events are the largest volunteer-powered fundraising opportunity benefiting pediatric cancer research. The St. Baldrick's Foundation advocates at the national level in the U.S. for increased federal funding for pediatric cancer research and more effective public policy to serve children with cancer.
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Since 2005, St. Baldrick's has awarded more than $312 million to support lifesaving research, making the St. Baldrick's Foundation the largest non-government funder of childhood cancer research grants. St. Baldrick's funds are granted to some of the most brilliant childhood cancer research experts in the world — including the first Pediatric Cancer Dream Team – and to younger professionals who will be the experts of tomorrow. Funds awarded also enable hundreds of local institutions to participate in national pediatric cancer clinical trials, and the new International Scholar grants train researchers working in developing countries. You can learn more about 12 types of grants by visiting our Grants page.
If your local hospital treats children with cancer, chances are, it has received funding from St. Baldrick's! Since 2005, St. Baldrick's has awarded more than $90 million to the Children's Oncology Group (COG), a cooperative research group with approximately 200 member institutions across the U.S. and beyond. In this way, the St. Baldrick's Foundation funds virtually every institution qualified to treat childhood cancers. There are also other types of funding available for pediatric cancer institutions. Please encourage your local institution to apply for a St. Baldrick's grant. For more information on the St. Baldrick's grant process, please see our Information for Researchers page or contact us .
While St. Jude's is a hospital and research institution, we are a foundation that makes grants to St. Jude's and many other excellent research institutions, to support their research. To date, we have made 31 grants to St. Jude's, totaling $8,583,930, with an additional $668,867 going to St. Jude's from our grant to the Children's Oncology Group, for a total of more than $9.2 million.
We love to see people support local institutions where children you know would likely be treated. And of course, we love for people to support St. Baldrick's, so that we can continue making grants for the most promising research, no matter where it is being done. No single hospital has a monopoly on talent or great ideas so by supporting St. Baldrick's you know you are supporting the best!
In fiscal year 2019-2020, of every dollar raised, 71% funded research to find cures, 24% was spent on fundraising (website, credit card processing fees, phones, postage, printing, t-shirts, office space, staff, etc.) and 5% was spent to administer the organization and its funds (accounting, audit, human resources, insurance, etc.). St. Baldrick's takes its responsibility to be efficient and good stewards of every dollar donated very seriously and strives to put the most funding possible into the hands of researchers who can cure childhood cancers. View St. Baldrick's Expense Ratios.
In Fiscal Year 2019-2020, 71% of funds raised supported research grants to find cures and the process to identify which grant proposals are the most promising, or the best research. Another 24% was spent on fundraising and 5% was invested to properly administer the Foundation and the dollars contributed.
The expense ratio is one piece of the picture. That is why the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance focuses on 20 Standards for Charity Accountability including: Results, Governance, Finances, and Truthful and Transparent Representations.
In recent years, we have faced increased competition. Most of our funds are raised through head-shaving events, which typically occur in months 9 and 10 of our fiscal year. In months 1-8, among other things, we invest in the recruitment, coaching, tools and supplies volunteers need to be successful. However, if volunteers cannot raise funds, or events are canceled as they were in 2020, we are left with the expense of preparing for events, without the revenue to offset it.
A key component to St. Baldrick's mission strategy is our federal advocacy program. St. Baldrick's authored the Childhood Cancer STAR Act, and in 2020 alone, this bill garnered a federal increase of $30 million for childhood cancer research. Our efforts to get the Childhood Cancer Data Initiative (CCDI) passed produced another $50 million, all to accelerate discoveries that help kids. That is $80 million more for research in one year — not counting St. Baldrick's grants! Were St. Baldrick's permitted to reflect these efforts in our expense ratio, our program (mission) ratio would be 91%.
As fundraising event models go, the St. Baldrick's head-shaving event is an incredibly efficient fundraising event method and far less expensive than other events, such as galas or golf tournaments. Yet events are labor intensive to support, as any dedicated Volunteer Event Organizer (VEO) will tell you! St. Baldrick's continues to work diligently to expand our fundraising methods to include less time-intensive activities.
The Foundation manages to the 20 Standards for Charity Accountability set by the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance. The BBB takes a broad approach in its review, evaluating many aspects of the organization's performance, and an organization must meet all of them to earn accreditation by BBB Wise Giving Alliance. The 20 standards encompass the following categories — governance and oversight, measuring effectiveness, finances, and fundraising and informational materials. It is a far more comprehensive view of a non-profit's real health.
Until June 2016, the St. Baldrick's Foundation had a three-star rating on Charity Navigator. In June of 2016, Charity Navigator changed the metrics by which they assess non-profits. Because the St. Baldrick's Foundation makes a commitment to the researchers, we fund no matter what changes in the economy or in our fundraising, we bank all the funds (including future year grants) we have awarded the moment we announce them. Which means, on our financial books, we take a large amount of what is referred to in accounting as liability. In most non-profits, liabilities are always considered a bad thing and that is how Charity Navigator views it as well. It means you have incurred debt that will need to be paid. However, in our case, we have the money in the bank and are just waiting for the signed grant agreements (or the annual report of results in the case of multi-year grants) to get the money working to find cures. Rest assured, we are committed to continuing to guarantee every grant we make, no matter how Charity Navigator rates us for it. Our practice proved very responsible again in 2020. Due to the widespread cancelation or deferral of events because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we were able to honor all our existing research commitments and make new ones. Had we not held our grant obligations in reserve many productive research projects would have been curtailed — and this we maintain would not be a responsible use of donor dollars.
Let us look at what rating agencies cannot do.
No charity rating agency can tell you how effectively a charity is fulfilling its mission. They simply do not have the bandwidth or expertise to evaluate how well a hospital treats patients, or how well a school educates its students, or if the soup kitchen is serving the most nutritious meals, or in our case, how effectively we select "the best" research to fund. Since we have played a role in virtually every advancement in the field of childhood cancer research in the past 20 years, we would say we are pretty darn great at identifying the best research to #GiveKidsALifetime!
St. Baldrick's review process for grants starts when a childhood cancer researcher submits a grant proposal. Each application is reviewed and rated by the three pediatric cancer research experts, using the same review process as the National Cancer Institute. Excellent scoring grants are funded; poorly scoring applications are not; applications with scores that differ substantially, or which are close to the funding cut-off are discussed by a committee of reviewers which determines the final scores. These scores are used to make final funding recommendations. Final decisions are made by the Board of Directors. The review process is rigorous and handled with care to ensure that every dollar raised is spent on the research most likely to find cures for kids! An expert Scientific Advisory Committee determines funding types and policies and guides the Foundation's funding strategies.
St. Baldrick's has awarded grants to over 380 institutions for all stages of research, from new discoveries in the lab to the development of new therapies to clinical trials that are often a child's best chance for a cure and long-term survival. Grants can broadly be categorized as discovery research, next generation training, and revolutionary.
- Discovery — St. Baldrick's awarded more than $19 million in 2020 to fund pediatric oncology research in the following grant categories: research grants, career development awards (St. Baldrick's Scholars), fellowships, supportive care research grants, summer fellowships, consortium research grants, and international scholars.
- Next Generation — Many of the Fellows and Scholars (younger professionals completing their training or beginning their careers) funded by St. Baldrick's have already distinguished themselves as leaders in research today.
- Revolutionary — These are unique projects with high impact, including the St. Baldrick's - Stand Up to Cancer Pediatric Cancer Dream Team, the St. Baldrick's Robert J. Arceci Innovation Awards, and the Childhood Cancer Data Initiative.
To our knowledge, there's no real St. Baldrick. The name "St. Baldrick's" is a combination of the words "bald" and "St. Patrick's," since the first event was held in 2000 on March 17, which is St. Patrick's Day.
The first St. Baldrick's event took place at Jim Brady's Bar and Restaurant in New York City. What began as a challenge between three friends on March 17, 2000, has grown into the world's largest volunteer-powered fundraising opportunity benefiting childhood cancer research.
- Mission-driven — The pursuit of better research to ensure kids survive and thrive after cancer is at the heart of every decision we make, and all we do.
- Accountable — We expect you, the Foundation's donors and volunteers to hold our staff to high standards. When we make a mistake, we own it and learn from it and we welcome your feedback to help make our collective results more impactful. You and the kids we all fight for deserve the best we can give.
- Continuously improving — We commit to continuous learning, to adapting to the needs of a changing world, and to funding the most current priorities and impactful discoveries in childhood cancer research.
- Aligned — Staff work closely with volunteers who constitute 99.9% of St. Baldrick's workforce! Staff do our best to provide what volunteers need to be successful. We solicit advice from supporters and listen to it before exploring new ideas. Volunteers, donors and staff depend upon each other to be successful heroes for kids with cancer
- Transparent — St. Baldrick's was founded on the premise that every supporter and prospective supporter has a right to know whatever they want before electing to support us. We know you have a choice with where to invest your time and charitable dollars. If you have questions, let us know so we may respond.
- Fun — There is nothing “fun” about a cancer diagnosis but knowing that you can be a hero for kids with cancer and get funny photos of your friend mid-shave is pretty darn amusing! And as a six-year-old boy once said at a head shaving event, “this is so exciting! It means I'm going to get to grow up!” Enough said!
St. Baldrick's Foundation funds cannot be used for human embryonic stem cell research. This is not a statement on whether or not we think it should be supported; the decision is based on the fact that many of our donors and volunteers — our source of funds — would not be comfortable supporting it. Stem cell transplantations not using human embryonic stem cells — using cord blood or matched donors — are often used in treating childhood cancer patients, and our funds may be used in this non-controversial area of research.
One of St. Baldrick's top priorities is keeping expenses to a minimum. Donations of goods or services that would otherwise come out of our budget are always welcome! Office supplies, giveaway items, or services including publicity, advertising, printing, and more can be a big aid in keeping expenses down so more money can go to the cause. Additionally, corporate sponsors — companies that make donations to underwrite expenses or present growth opportunities — are very important to St. Baldrick's success. To propose a sponsorship or learn more, contact us.
St. Baldrick's has partnered with Threadless to provide an on demand shop where logo items are available. Visit our store here and keep checking back for newly available items!