“The biggest misconception people have is that the proceeds from a product or fundraising event are directly contributed to the cause, or toward progress in ending the breast cancer epidemic, and that’s an assumption which may not be true,” said Gayle Sulik, author of “Pink Ribbon Blues: How Breast Cancer Culture Undermines Women’s Health.” Whether it’s a entering a walk-a-thon or buying a dusky-rose pair of sneakers, Sulik recommended reading the fine print. “If there are not specifics, if it’s a general, ‘All profits go to support the fight against breast cancer,’ that’s a red flag,” she cautioned.
Here are three product examples:
- Hershey's Kisses for the Cure Pink Ribbon Music Box, retail price $49.99 has a major selling point that portion of the proceeds to be donated to help fight breast cancer. That amount might be a $1.00 and the authors could not find out what charity the money was going to. Recommendation - skip it.
- Gaiam Ink Ribbon Yoga Mat, retail price $21.98. $1 goes to charity.
- "Andee" Breast Cancer Watch from Coach, retail price $258, $20 goes to charity.
"The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, for example, uses less than nine cents per dollar raised on fundraising and administrative expenses, compared to the United Breast Cancer Foundation, which spends a whopping 72 cents per dollar before beneficiaries see any of that money. Watchdogs like CharityNavigator.org can help you compare charities to see where your money is going."
The next consideration is there a cap on the amount that goes to the charity - either an end date or a total amount:
When you find a product that supports the cause transparently — and there are plenty out there — try to find out whether there’s a cap on the donation, meaning the donation ends once a certain amount has been met. If the promotion mentions a specific time period and you buy the product after the cut-off date, the would-be donation may go straight to the company, so check for a time limit.
Some tips for where to donate your money are:
- The smaller local charities who are helping people you know in your community.
- Breast Cancer Research Foundation
- MD Anderson
- Johns Hopkins Avon Breast Center
- Lynn Sage Cancer Research Foundation
- Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center