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Types of Health Charities

Disease-Specific Charities

This category may include large, well known charities which can focus on multiple types of cancers or childhood conditions. It may also include smaller private charities that often concentrate their more limited funds on a specific health problem. These charities may arise from a personal experience or a single-minded dedication to eradicate a particular disease. They will often spend much of their money on research, usually by raising grant money to give to research foundations.

“Health is always personal and people tend to give to the charities that have affected them personally. People want to give to cancer that pertains to the part of the body, like colon or breast cancer,” says Jamie Gallisdorfer, national vice president for marketing and communications at Community Health Charities, the only U.S. federation dedicated to health charities. Smaller, single-minded charities allow donors to target their funds to particular causes, such as cancer in children or cancer of the pancreas.

Examples: The American Cancer Society and Shriners are two well known charities that fit this category. Two smaller charities include Alex’s Lemonade Stand, which was founded by a family whose daughter got cancer when she was almost a year old, and the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, which seeks to eliminate cancer in the pancreas.

Health Outreach and Relief Teams

If you want to donate to the poor around the world, other medical foundations provide health and relief teams that focus on improving health in poverty-stricken countries everywhere, during times of disaster or otherwise.

Examples: The Red Cross and Salvation Army are also examples of organizations that reach out to hurting people to provide relief during disasters. Organizations like PATH, the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health, bring health services and technology to countries that lack basic things like vaccines, laboratories, and often, doctors. International Relief Teams provides assistance to victims of disaster, poverty, and neglect through medical education and training, domestic and international relief, public health, and surgical outreach.

Advocate Charities

Advocate charities spend their money on outreach in the form of educational programs, mobilization of support for legislative efforts, screenings for prevention, and training and support for medical professionals and the public.

Examples: The American Heart Association works for heart disease prevention, education, and advocacy.  It also reaches out to share its research findings with the public, unlike many medical research institutes. Breathe California of the Bay Area is a smaller advocate charity in San Jose that fights lung disease in various forms through educational programs, screening, and support.

Support Service Charities

Some health-related charities offer support services for those with health needs. These charities help families and patients with concerns outside medical care.

Examples: The Ronald McDonald House provides housing while patients are getting medical care. The Make-A-Wish Foundation grants desires of children with life-threatening medical conditions, such as a wish by a child with leukemia to be a policeman for a day.

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