In 2017, a national breast cancer charity that operated for six years and raised nearly $3 million annually was forced to repay $350K to real charities because its activities were found to be deceptive. The unethical behavior of this charity highlights the reasons donors need to research breast cancer charities before making donations.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so it is prime time for "pink ribbon" products and appeals to donate to breast cancer charities. Better Business Bureau advises consumers to research charities and cause-related products carefully before making a donation or buying a pink-ribbon product.
According to the American Cancer Society, there will be 252,710 new cases of invasive breast cancer diagnosed this year, and 40,610 people will die from the disease. Other than skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women, and it is second to lung cancer as a leading cause of cancer death for women.
Breast cancer is one of the most publicized cancers to afflict women, and a significant number of men have been diagnosed as well. Some fraudulent charities try to cash in on the pink ribbon frenzy, so donors should do their homework before they make a donation or buy a pink-ribbon product.
BBB offers BBB Charity Reviews of more than 11,000 charities nationwide, including several BBB Accredited Charities that support research on cancer or who provide support to cancer survivors. Some charities have names that resemble well-known breast cancer charities, so it is a good idea to check charities out on BBB's website before making a donation.
In addition, a number of companies have produced products that claim to support cancer charities. BBB advises consumers to check the products carefully to determine how much support goes to charity and whether the charity meets BBB standards.
If you want to support breast cancer charities by purchasing products, BBB advises you look into how that purchase will benefit a charity and which charity will get the money. More tips:
Inspect the product for information. Many companies clearly report on labels how much of their sales go to charity and specifically where the money goes.
Check the company's website. If the information is not on the product itself, it often can be found at the website address printed on the product packaging.
If you still can't find the information, call the company and ask for it. Firms that use charity tie-ins to market their products should be transparent to consumers.
Contact the charity directly if you have doubts they are receiving proceeds.
Check out the charity to decide whether you believe it is worthy of your support. One way to do this is by contacting BBB to determine whether the charity meets BBB's 20 Standards for Accountability.
Be wary of appeals that are long on emotion but short on describing what the charity will do.
If you contribute, do not give cash. Make a check or money order out to the name of the charitable organization, not to the individual collecting the donation.
Watch out for excessive pressure for on-the-spot donations. Be wary of any requests to send a "runner" to pick up your donation.
Be wary of charities that are reluctant to answer reasonable questions about their operations, finances and programs. Ask how much of your gift will be used for the activity mentioned in the appeal and how much will go toward other programs and administrative and fundraising costs.
Before you do business with a charity, check its BBB Charity Review at midmobbb.org or call 573-886-8965.
Sean Spence is the Mid-Missouri regional director for Better Business Bureau.