Consumer Advisory: Be Wary of “Pinkwashing” This October

October 11, 2013

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and many businesses are marketing “pink” products and services to support breast cancer charities and organizations. If you are tempted to purchase items donning the pink ribbon in an attempt to support a good cause, the BBB is warning consumers to do some additional research.

Unscrupulous businesses will misuse pink ribbon marketing to promote products and services providing little or no benefit to breast cancer causes. This practice is known as “pinkwashing.” The widely recognized pink ribbon symbol is not regulated by an agency. As a result, it should not be construed as evidence that the products to which it is affixed actually benefit breast research, awareness, or programs that support cancer victims or survivors. Some products use a pink ribbon simply to indicate that the company supports breast cancer programs.

If you plan to donate to the cause this October, the BBB provides the following tips to ensure the authenticity of your transaction:

Ask questions. Find out what percentage of the sale price will be donated and to which charity. Also ask if there is a cap on the donations, or if a percentage will only be donated for a limited period of time.

Research the business. Go to to view their rating and history of consumer complaints with the Better Business Bureau.

Confirm charity affiliations. If a business claims they will donate proceeds to a particular charity, contact the charity to confirm the relationship. To ensure your donation is received by the organization, consider donating directly to the charity.

Remember to Give Wisely. If you decide to donate directly to charities supporting breast cancer causes and awareness, the BBB cautions you to make sure your donation is being used wisely.

Before giving to any charity, the BBB advises consumers to:

  • Research the charity on or Also be sure to contact the Canada Revenue Agency to verify the charity is registered under the Income Tax Act and is therefore able to issue official donation receipts. Canada Revenue Agency’s Charity Listings can be found at
  • Donate via check rather than cash. Write checks to the name of the charities, rather than individuals.
  • Do not give personal information to people with unsolicited donation requests.
  • Be wary of high-pressure donation requests which fail to adequately describe the work of the charity. Reconsider your donation if a charity refuses to answer questions about their operations, finances and programs.
  • Keep records of donations with receipts, canceled checks, and bank statements for tax purposes.
  • Carefully read the product labels on pink ribbon products. They should include the charity name and the percentage of the sale going to charity.

Better Business Bureau services are available online at nd by telephone at 1 (800) 459-8875.