By Robb Hicken,
Better Business Bureau
Jim Smith knows a little bit about cancer as a cancer survivor.
“I battled cancer, so I’m aware of research and development needs,” the 73-year-old St. Anthony resident says. “That’s why when the Breast Cancer Institute called, I was willing to give.”
The phone call came from a Utah number, and the person identified herself as being from the Breast Cancer Institute. Smith called Better Business Bureau after the person’s response to distribution of funding sounded contrived.
“When someone makes a pledge to a charity, a certain amount goes to administration,” says Smith, not his real name. “I just wasn’t satisfied that her answers were correct.”
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and charitable organizations are making an effort to collect money for research, development and administration for the rest of the year. BBB says beware that some organizations are not what they appear to be.
Smith received a follow up letter from the Breast Cancer Institute, which made him think that maybe this organization was a little bit more legitimate. He chose not to contribute.
“I like to think I can make a difference, so I’ll continue to give to charitable organizations,” he says.
In addition to solicitations, many businesses are marketing “pink” products and services to support breast cancer charity groups and organizations. But every year scammers find a new way to take advantage of these good deeds – a practice known as “pinkwashing.” In order to make sure donations go to the right place, Better Business Bureau asks you to research pink product claims before making a donation or purchase.
The widely recognized pink ribbon symbol is not regulated by an agency and does not necessarily mean it effectively combats the breast cancer epidemic. Some products have a pink ribbon to show that the company supports breast cancer programs even if the company’s contributions are not tied to the purchases of the specific product bearing the ribbon.
Other companies give a portion of an item’s cost to a breast cancer organization but may need further action on the part of the customer for the donation to be realized.
While these efforts are trustworthy, donors should take the following steps to double-check their efforts will go where they are needed:
• Ask questions. Find out what percentage of the sale price will be donated, to which charity and how the funds will be used.
• Research the business. Learn more about the business your purchasing from by checking its BBB Business Review at bbb.org.
• Confirm the charity’s corporate partners. Many national breast cancer charities list corporate partners and sponsors on a Web site. Check to make sure the business you are purchasing from is associated with the charity.
• Consider a direct donation. Find a charity you trust at bbb.org/charity and give directly. If you give online, be sure to print the confirmation page for your records – many donations are tax-deductible.