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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

BUFFALO -- Every October, thousands of products display either a pink ribbon or packaging for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Before getting caught up in the marketing, BBB serving Upstate New York reminds everyone that not all “pink” opportunities are created equal.

Over the past several years, many questions have come up about pink marketing and just how much of it actually goes to charities. Before you pick up that pink can of soup or a pen with a pink ribbon, as yourself, “how much money really goes to breast cancer charities or research?”

BBB’s 20 Standards for Charity Accountability include cause-related marketing efforts. BBB’s Accredited Charities must meet criteria when it comes to the amount of the portion of the proceeds that goes back to the charity. For organizations that are not accredited, people are encouraged to review each organization’s Charity Review to gain an understanding of how it performs.

There are three criteria that BBB looks for when reviewing a charities performance regarding cause-related marketing and the sale of “portion of the proceeds” items:

  • The actual or anticipated portion of the purchase price that will benefit the charity, for example, “5 cents will be contributed to charity x for every product sold…,”
  • The duration of the campaign, example, the month of October, and
  • Any maximum or guaranteed minimum contribution amount, an example would be up to a maximum of $200,000.

BBB encourages both the charitable and selling organizations to disclose when a maximum contribution amount has been met. While the many pink products we see on the shelves this time of year is a great reminder of how important it is to consider donating to a charity, we must also remember to ask these questions all year long; not just during the month of October.

BBB offers the following advice to know your donation will best serve your breast cancer charity of choice:

  • Question cash only. If someone comes to your door or approaches you on the street asking for cash beware that once it’s gone, it’s gone. If you’ve done your research and want to support the charity calling ask to write a check to the organization.
  • Ask questions. If you ask questions about the organization’s finances and programs and you don’t get direct answers, find another to give to. Legitimate organizations know that an educated donor is its best friend.  
  • Be very wary of telemarketing appeals. Ask how much of your donation will go to programs and how much will go to administration and fundraising expenses. New York State's Attorney General issues pennies for charities annually and offers more outcome information. BBB Wise Giving recommends 65% of its total expenses are spent on program activities, and no more than 35% of related contributions on fundraising.
  • Give by credit card. Paying with a credit card allows you to dispute the charges if a problem occurs. Resist the urge to pre-pay registration fees many months or even a year in advance, especially when the charity does not collect the fees.

Click here for detailed Charity Reviews from BBB Foundation of Upstate New York.

For real time scam information, check out BBB’s Scam Tracker.

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