Beware of 'pinkwashing' this Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Thousands across the Brazos Valley will honor Breast Cancer Awareness Month by donning pink and donating to organizations helping survivors and searching for a cure.

Better Business Bureau experts say be careful with those good intentions and take steps to avoid "pinkwashing."

"Pinkwashing is a term used to describe companies or products for sale that claim to support breast cancer awareness, but never actually give that money to charities," said Adam Price with the BBB. "There are legitimate organizations that do great work, but not every pink product on store shelves supports them."

The BBB offers the following advice to breast cancer awareness supporters:

- Shop smart. Beware of false or misleading marketing and advertising. When you’re shopping online or in stores for “pink ribbon” products that state the proceeds go to fund breast cancer research, take caution. Even if a portion of a business’s sales goes toward breast cancer research or treatment, it might still keep a majority of the sales. So, it might be more effective to give money directly to a breast cancer-related charity (or fundraiser) versus purchasing a “pink” product from a retailer that only donates a small percentage of the cost. Remember to read the fine print. Also, make sure that any pink ribbon product you buy this month actually backs the message it’s sending – and reaches those who need it most.

Donate wisely. Although this campaign brings recognition to a charitable cause, makes us feel good and might even contribute some revenue to a charity, it isn't representative of responsible giving. The first thing every consumer should do? Research! There hundreds of charities out there, and doing your homework first helps ensure you choose a trustworthy charity.

Participate carefully. Is the walk or race that you’re participating in directly contributing to the breast cancer cause? Sometimes when you register for these fun runs, a fee is required. Do your research and find out if the fee or a percentage of the required fee is going to a breast cancer related charity.

Check with BBB. BBB Wise Giving Alliance (see Related Links) provides Charity Reports to show businesses and consumers how charities use donations. Give.org also provides giving guidance and tips to help you in your charity donation decisions.