October 18, 2011
“Pinkwashing” and Charity Scams
Every October, hundreds of businesses and nonprofits tout pink products with the promise that sales proceeds will fund breast cancer research and awareness.
But with news reports about cancer charity fraud, buyers can’t be so sure. Several companies have been accused of claiming to support the cause but donating little or none of their profits. Experts warn it’s best to give organizations a second look before handing over the cash.
How to know if a business has pure intentions?
“No legitimate business makes offers that are too good to be true,” says Nanette Hilley, SVP of Enterprise Fraud & Client Data Assurance at SunTrust Bank. She adds that suspicious activity like high-pressure situations, deadlines or anyone urging you to act quickly are red flags.
If you already suspect you’ve been taken for a ride, Hilley advises stopping payment if possible, and experts recommend reporting the vendor to the Better Business Bureau, where you can also research companies before buying or donating in the future.
Breast cancer research and awareness campaigns are “awash” in funding – about $6 billion is committed to the cause each year, according to Marie Claire. Critics suggest questioning how much of your money goes to actual programs vs. overhead, how clear the charity is about their goals and whether they’re represented by a volunteer or a telemarketer (the latter can be expensive).
While nonprofits must submit financial reports to the IRS, loopholes aren’t hard to find. Organizations known for donating the largest percent of earnings include The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Johns Hopkins Avon Foundation Breast Center and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
Bonus PINK Link:Check out our profile on Nancy Brinker, founder and CEO of Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
By Caroline Cox
“I'm grateful for every new, healthy day I have. Cancer got
me over unimportant fears.” Olivia Newton-John
*Supporting images from FreeDigitalPhotos.net, digitalart, jscreationzs, and John Kasawa