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If you want to donate your money to a charitable cause, it's important to do your research first. Not all charities are created equal. Many charities spend too much of their money, which is really your money, on administrative functions. Take time to research the financial reports, the goals and mission of the charities, and the way in which funds are spent.

In this article we take a close look at the Lustgarten Foundation. We review its 990 reports, its ratings, and its projects, providing you with the information you need to decide if contributing to the Lustgarten Foundation is the right choice for you.

What is the L​​​​​​​ustgarten Foundation?

The Lustgarten Foundation is a charitable organization founded in 1998 in honor of former Cablevision Vice President and Chairman of Madison Square Garden Marc Lustgarten. Mr. Lustgarten was an important businessman and philanthropist in the New York City area when he died of pancreatic cancer in 1999. Inspired by his life and dedication to charitable causes, the Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research was formed. Mr. Lustgarten served on its Board of Directors for one year prior to his death.

What Does Lustgarten Do?

Lustgarten's mission is "to advance scientific and medical research related to the diagnosis, treatment, cure, and prevention of pancreatic cancer." It has a three-pronged approach to achieve this mission: increase funding and research support, encourage and facilitate the communication between scientific and medical communities, and improve public education and awareness about pancreatic cancer.

Research support

Lustgarten awards grants to scientists and institutions that are performing cutting-edge pancreatic cancer research. Its Distinguished Scholars program gives $5 million over five years to scientists who are pushing the envelope of what is possible in cancer research and treatments. This grant enables them to spend more time researching for a cure.

The Research Investigators Awards Program supports individual projects that explore the underlying causes of pancreatic cancer. The hope is that this research will improve early diagnoses and develop treatments that can halt the cancer before it spreads. Research into early targeting can also lead to a cure as scientists learn more about the roots of this disease.

The Translational Clinical Program awards grant money to multi-institutional research projects that improve medical outcomes. Studies that focus on therapies, surgery, and personalized medicine are funded here, with the idea that successful treatments bring the scientific and medical communities together. The more these communities cooperate, the closer the cure.

Major Research Initiatives

Lustgarten is focused on four major areas of research that are making significant strides in understanding and combating pancreatic cancer. These areas are: earlier detection initiatives, the Pancreatic Cancer Genome Project, the Pancreatic Research Consortium, and immunotherapy. These four initiatives are heavily funded by Lustgarten and are showing promising results.

Earlier detection research is conducted at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center. Scientists from physics, radiology, and vision science are collaborating to devise better ways to spot and diagnose pancreatic cancer before it spreads. The Pancreatic Cancer Research Consortium is a similar cooperative effort between six world-renown cancer research institutions. The PCRC's mission is to find a cure for pancreatic cancer through sharing research and resources.

The Pancreatic Cancer Genome Project has successfully decoded the DNA of 24 pancreatic cancers by sequencing more than 20,000 genes. Over 1,500 DNA mutations were discovered. This breakthrough has allowed research in immunotherapy to leap ahead, as researchers can now target specific genetic mutations.

Increase Communication

The Lustgarten Foundation sponsors pancreatic cancer conferences to encourage dialogue between different organizations and institutions. The goal is for this improved dialogue to segue into collaborative efforts that will improve the quality of pancreatic cancer research being performed. For example, in 2016 Lustagarten co-sponsored an American Association of Cancer Research Special Conference on Pancreatic Cancer: Advances in Science and Clinical Care. The presenters represented the best research institutions and medical centers from around the world.

Public Education

Believing that knowledge is power, Lustgarten is committed to educating the public about the symptoms, types, and stages of pancreatic cancer. It achieves this goal by having comprehensive information on their website. It also provides links to additional resources and has a pancreatic cancer library for patients and families of patients to read.

In addition to information about the disease, Lustgarten provides an online support community where it posts news and updates about cancer research and members of the community can ask questions and comment. This allows patients and their families to stay on top of the progress being made towards a pancreatic cancer cure. They can also get advice and suggestions about approaches they can take for treatment.

What Can I Do for the Lustgarten Foundation?

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As the Lustgarten Foundation's primary focus is funding research, it needs lots of financial support. Various ways you can contribute include legacy giving, donating a vehicle, donating online, and purchasing a purple bracelet. Lustgarten also gives helpful suggestions and ideas on how to create a personal fundraising web page.

You can also participate in a Lustgarten Pancreatic Research Walk or Run. These events are held regularly all over the country and have raised more than $36 million for pancreatic cancer research. One-hundred percent of the run/walk entry fee goes to research, so you know your money is well spent.

Lustgarten Foundation needs volunteers, so if you like to give time, this is a good choice for you. If you live near its headquarters on Long Island, you can volunteer to work in the main office. It also needs volunteers to help at each walk/run event and other fundraising activities.

Lustgarten helps individuals and organizations create fundraising events. If you would like to organize or sponsor an activity to raise money for pancreatic cancer research, you can contact Lustgarten for ideas and assistance. These events can include yard sales, bowling nights, triathlons, talent shows, school plays, and candy or bake sales. While these may seem like small fundraisers, when added together, they contribute millions of dollars to pancreatic cancer research each year.

What is the Lustgarten Foundation's Reputation?


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It would be tough to find a more financially sound and solvent charity than Lustgarten. Its score on Charity Navigator is an amazing 98.23 out of 100. Its financial score is 97.50, and its accountability and transparency score is 100. It has an overall rating of four stars out of four, and 90.4 percent of the charity's total expenses go towards their programs. Administrative expenses constitute 4.5 percent and, fundraising is 5 percent.

For the year 2016, Lustgarten received $35,872,288 in contributions, gifts, and grants. It raised another $6,027,876 through its fundraising efforts. According to its bylaws, 100 percent of every donation it receives is used for pancreatic cancer research.

When compared to similar charities, Lustgarten Foundation comes out on top. The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation has a Charity Navigator score of 91.64. The Cancer Research Institute's score is 90.41, and the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation comes in at 93.08.

Lustgarten's Leadership

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Lustgarten has an excellent Board of Directors with a solid reputation for successful management. It includes former executives from Cablevision, some of which were Marc Lustgarten's colleagues, medical personnel, and the National Basketball Association Commissioner. Together they make a formidable team of outstanding managers with decades of leadership experience.

Two advisory boards assist the Board of Directors by making recommendations and suggestions concerning programs and use of funds. The first, the Corporate Advisory Board, has the former President Jimmy Carter as Honorary Chairman. The rest of the team is a who's who of corporate management, with CEOs from Hearst Corporation, Sirius XM Radio, Liberty Media, 21st Century Fox, and the BBC.

The second group, the Scientific Advisory Board, is no less impressive. It consists of the top medical and scientific personnel in the United States. Doctors from Duke University School of Medicine, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine sit on the board. Also represented are the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.

Between the Board of Directors and the two advisory boards, the Lustgarten Foundation has the strongest leadership possible for this type of charity. Its ability to attract and retain such qualified personnel is testament to the importance of this charity's work. It is a primary reason that Lustgarten is so successful in its fundraising efforts.

Should You Contribute to the Lustgarten Foundation?

If you are interested in supported cancer research, Lustgarten is the best cancer charity. It can do more with your money and will spend it better than any other cancer organization. Of course, it is spent exclusively on pancreatic cancer research, so if you feel strongly about supporting breast or colon cancer research, then you should send your money elsewhere. However, all cancer research benefits other cancers, as the information is shared across specialties, so giving to Lustgarten will help all cancer research move forward.

If you decide to donate to Lustgarten, 100 percent of your donation goes directly to research. The foundation has a stellar reputation with outstanding leadership. The research it has funded is published with proven results. Don't hesitate to give to this impeccable charity.

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