October: Everything is Turning Pink

October 09, 2013

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and many businesses are marketing “pink” products and services to support breast cancer charity groups and organizations. But every year, scammers find a way to take advantage of these good deeds – a practice known as "pinkwashing."

The widely recognized pink ribbon symbol is not regulated by an agency and it should not be construed as evidence that products to which it is affixed benefit breast cancer research and/or charities. Some products use a pink ribbon simply to indicate that the company supports breast cancer programs.

And while other companies do give a portion of an item’s cost to a breast cancer organization, a consumer may need to research claims in order to know how their donation will benefit the cause. In order to make sure donations go to the right place, Better Business Bureau Serving Northern Colorado and Wyoming advises consumers to research pink product claims before making a purchase.

Pink Products

  • Pink packaging may mean very little. In fact, research from one BBB office showed that in some instances, very little money from sales actually went to breast cancer organizations.

  • Check packaging for disclosures of how much goes to charity and what organizations are supported. You can also look on a company’s website for disclosures.

  • BBB Standards require all cause-related marketing (such as pink products) disclose certain information very clearly.  For information on the BBB’s 20 Standards for Charity Accountability visit give.org.

Pink Charities

  • October is the time when many “sound-a-like” organizations come out to take advantage of pink giving. Some of these organizations give pennies on the dollar when it comes to supporting breast cancer research with the funds they raise.

  • Do not give cash. If someone comes to your door or approaches you on the street, make a check out to the organization.

  • If you ask questions about the organization’s finances and programs and you don’t get direct answers, don’t give to them. Legitimate organizations know that an educated donor is its best friend.

  • Be wary of telemarketing appeals. Ask how much of your donation will go to programs and how much will go to administration and fundraising expenses.

  • Visit BBB at wynco.bbb.org to check an organization’s status. BBB evaluates 501c3 publically soliciting charities.

Start With Trust. For more consumer tips you can trust, visit wynco.bbb.org.