Day 20: Research Breast Cancer Charities Before Donating Money or Buying ‘Pink’ Products

When the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure throws the spotlight on breast cancer research, other national and local businesses take advantage of the publicityto market pink ribbon products and services and ask for donations.  Some are legitimate; others are not. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises consumers to research a charity’s claims before making a purchase or donating money.
The BBB encourages consumers to look for companies that disclose a charity name, the amount of a sale going to the charity, the duration of marketing campaigns and, if applicable, the maximum or minimum contribution amount.
“The ultimate goal is for a portion of the purchase to end up in the intended charity’s hands,” said Michelle Corey, president of the BBB.  “Consumers can ensure this will happen by asking the right questions.”
The annual Komen Race for the Cure event in downtown St. Louis is Saturday. The charity is accredited by the BBB.
While most pink ribbon marketing campaigns are trustworthy, consumers can eliminate the possibility of supporting companies that market false donation claims by doing the following:
  • Identify the charity receiving the donation. If the product or service is linked to a donation percentage, contact the business or manufacturer to determine exactly where the money is going and what percentage is donated.
  • Research the charity through the BBB’s Wise Giving Alliance.  If the product or service is in support of an unfamiliar charity, learn more about the organization by reviewing the BBB’s charity report online at
  • Confirm the charity’s corporate partners.  Many national breast cancer charities list the names of corporate partners and sponsors on their websites.
In addition to purchasing products and services, consumers may receive solicitations for general donations over the phone or by mail.  The BBB advises potential donors to be cautious of individuals claiming to represent national breast cancer charities.
Several breast cancer charities have faced criticism in recent years, largely for questionable fundraising activities.
One of the largest, Baltimore-based The American Breast Cancer Foundation, received nearly $9 million in donations in 2008, according to the organization’s most recent report to the Internal Revenue Service.   The charity’s records show that most of that money was raised by telemarketers. Of the $5.4 million raised by telemarketers that year, the charity received $765,000, or about 14 cents of each dollar.  Phyllis Wolf is the charity’s president. Her son owns Non Profit Promotions, the charity’s direct mail fundraiser.  Non Profit Promotions made $919,000 from The American Breast Cancer Foundation in 2008.
A smaller national charity, Coalition Against Breast Cancer, Inc., of Long Island, N. Y., raised nearly $1.5 million in donations in 2008,according to IRS records.  Of that total, almost $1.2 million, or about 80 percent, was paid to the charity’s professional fundraisers. 
The BBB advises donors to:
  • Be wary of appeals that are long on emotion, but short on describing what the charity will do.
  • If you contribute, do not give cash.  Make a check or money order out to the name of the charitable organization, not to the individual collecting the donation.
  • Watch out for excessive pressure for on-the-spot donations.  Be wary of any requests to send a “runner” to pick up your donation.
  • Be wary of charities that are reluctant to answer reasonable questions about their operations, finances and programs.  Ask how much of your gift will be used for the activity mentioned in the appeal and how much will go toward other programs and administrative and fundraising costs.
For more information on how to ensure that your donation gets into the right hands, visit BBB’s Wise Giving Alliance at
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  1. A unique way to gather support for breast cancer campaigns is to buy pink products. But not most of the pink products are legitimate for this cause. Thanks for the guidelines on how to avoid false donation claims.

  2. Thanks for stopping by! It is important to do your homework before you help a cause.



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