The Darker Side of Breast Cancer Awareness
In the month of October it's hard to forget it's Breast Cancer Awareness Month. More than any other "cause" breast cancer advocates have managed to take over entire cities, whether it's putting dye in their fountains or illuminating their buildings with pink.
Almost everybody jumps on the pink bandwagon, including many commercial entities. "Buy this pink thing to show your support"; "Buy our pink product and we'll donate money."
Just as when you are purchasing a product, buyer - or donator - beware of where your money is going. Many people have a soft spot for breast cancer and it's easy to either give to a charlatan charity, or spend money thinking you are making a huge difference for people with breast cancer.
Luckily, there are tools to help you make the right decision for yourself.
Scambook, an online consumer advocacy platform, warns of increasing breast cancer charity scams this time of year. It offers the following tips to help consumers avoid fraudulent breast cancer charities and related scams:
- 1. Do not respond to unsolicited (SPAM) e-mail.
- 2. Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as officials soliciting via e-mail for donations.
- 3. Do not click on links contained within an unsolicited e-mail.
- 4. Be cautious of e-mails claiming to contain pictures in attached files, as the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders.
- 5. Make direct contributions to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf. A non-exhaustive list of reputable breast cancer organizations can be found on thiswebsite, which rates the credibility of charities.
- 6. Validate the legitimacy of the organization by directly accessing the recognized charity or aid organization's website rather than following an alleged link to the site.
- 7. Verify the legitimacy of the non-profit status of an organization by using various Internet-based resources, which can also assist in confirming the actual existence of the organization.GuideStaris a free resource that allows users to peruse nonprofits' tax returns to see exactly how they allocate money.
- 8. Do not provide personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions, as providing such information may compromise your identity and make identity theft possible.
Breast Cancer Action is a self-proclaimaed "watchdog of the breast cancer movement." Its "Think Before You Pink" project was launched in response to the growing concern about the number of pink ribbon products on the market. "The campaign calls for more transparency and accountability by companies that take part in breast cancer fundraising, and encourages consumers to ask critical questions about pink ribbon promotions," according to its website.
If you want to buy a certain brand because it donates money to breast cancer research, it's your choice, of course, but you should know where your donation is going and exactly how much the company is giving. Also, there is something to be said about breast cancer events. Yes, these walks and runs have big overhead, but I have known people undergoing treatment who are encouraged greatly by attending these. You can't put a price on making a person with cancer feel these thousands of supporters are there for them.
Financially you make the largest impact by donating directly to a reputable breast cancer charity. Emotionally it may help to wear pink to show you care.