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." In order to make sure donations go to the right place, Better Business Bureau advises consumers to research pink product claims before making a purchase.
The widely recognized pink ribbon symbol is not regulated by an agency and does not necessarily mean it promotes breast cancer research and/or charities. Some products have a pink ribbon in order to indicate that the company supports breast cancer programs even if the company’s contributions are not tied to the purchase of the specific product bearing the ribbon. While other companies give a portion of an item’s cost to a breast cancer organization, a consumer may need to research the claims in order to know how their donation will benefit the cause.
In some cases, companies will indicate that a portion of the proceeds from the sale of a pink ribbon product will go to support breast cancer programs, but put a “cap” on their maximum donation. Once the maximum amount has been met, the company may continue to sell the product with the pink ribbon without alerting customers that no additional funds will be donated to breast cancer organizations.
There are many companies that sell pink products where a portion of the sale price goes directly to the charity the business is supporting. While the majority of these efforts are trustworthy, consumers 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 you’re purchasing from by checking their BBB Business Review at bbb.org.
- Confirm the charity’s corporate partners. Many national breast cancer charities list corporate partners and sponsors on their website. Check to make sure the business you’re purchasing from is associated with the charity.
Consider a direct donation. Find a charity you trust and make a donation directly. If you donate online, be sure to print the confirmation page for your records – many donations are tax-deductible.