Avoid “Pinkwashing” This October

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It might be autumn, but instead of being inundated with pumpkin spice tastes and smells, store shelves are lined with everything pink. Just this week I spotted a pink water bottles, pink ribbon earrings and even pink headphones.

That’s because October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month. This annual event is organized by multiple breast cancer charities to increase awareness about the disease. This usually involves events for the public to participate in and fundraisers to help fund cancer research.

According to Breastcancer.org, one in eight U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. An estimated 2,600 new cases of invasive breast cancer is expected to be diagnosed in men in 2016. But there is some good news. Cancer incident and death rates are declining. And that’s why awareness months —like the one taking place right now —are so important.

During this time many companies dedicate a portion of their proceeds to cancer awareness and research, even going as far as creating and selling pink versions of their products. It’s a way to let consumers know that their money is going toward a cancer charity. But just how much of that money is actually going toward helping cancer patients get better?

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There have been reports of companies selling their products with a new pink look in order to convince the buyer the money is going toward a good cause, but actually pocket all the money. This is known as “pinkwashing.”

To make sure donations go to the right place, Better Business Bureau serving the Northwest advises consumers to research pink product claims before making a purchase or getting caught up in the hype.

Take the following steps when purchasing a product for its charity claims:

Be a smart shopper

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Find out what percentage of the sale price will be donated. Most companies put this information on the packaging and even include a link to detail where their donation will go. Don’t assume every organization listed on the box is a tax exempt charity. You may have to dig deeper to determine their status.

Do some research.

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Look into the business you’re purchasing from and the charity they are donating too. There are numerous cancer research charities so do your homework to ensure your buck is being spent in the right place. Be sure to get the charities name and look them up on give.org to see whether they are a reputable charity.

Spend wisely.

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Think about the product you want. Is it something you actually need or do you simply like the pink design? Resist the urge to shop on the spot. Be considerate of your purchase, especially when it is solely to benefit a charity. If you don’t need the product, consider making a donation directly to the charity of your choice.

But, hey, if you really like those pink headphones and you’re sure the money is going toward a trustworthy charity —I say go for it!

Safe Giving After a Tragedy

Written by Veronica Craker, Managing Editor

Giving after a tragedy 8.3.16

When Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005 I found myself watching the news and wondering how I could help. I lived in Biloxi, Mississippi for a short time and still had friends living in the area when the Category Five storm ripped through destroying everything in its path. While watching the news unfold I wondered how I could make a difference. So I opened my wallet and made a small donation to the Red Cross. Prior to that I hadn’t done more than slip extra change into charity buckets sitting next to cash registers or in the red kettles belonging to the Salvation Army during Christmas. With recent tragedies taking place around the world more people than ever are trying to find ways to make a difference. A recent BBB Scam Tracker survey found that one in five people lose money to a scam each year with annual losses estimated at $50 billion.

When a crisis hits, and especially when it hits close to home, we can’t help but feel compelled to do something. Whether its donating blood, giving money or volunteering it’s important to know the most effective way to help out after a tragedy.

In the past year BBB Scam Tracker has seen nearly 200 reports of charity scams in the U.S. and Canada.

Better Business Bureau serving the Northwest and BBB Wise Giving Alliance offers the following tips to keep in mind when looking to contribute:

Avoid high-pressure demands. Take time to research charities and avoid emotional pleas that do little to explain how the charity will help victims. Contact potential charities directly.

Use trustworthy charities. Be sure the charity is equipped and has the resources necessary to help with disaster relief. Review whether a charity meets all 20 standards of accountability at Give.org, a website run by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

Avoid cash donations. Write checks or pay by credit card to charities directly. Scammers will try to convince their victims to wire money or use prepaid debit cards to make a donation. Never give personal information or money to a telephone or email solicitor.

Double-check. Watch for “pop-up” charities with unverifiable background and contact information. Unscrupulous organizations may try to trip up donors by using names that sound similar to reputable charities.

Block social media pleas. Be wary of requests from fake victims or memorial social media accounts. Remember to verify the organization first before giving a penny.

Look closely at crowdfunding sites. Some crowdfunding sites do their best to verify a posted request is legitimate. But some may be set up by family members of victims, meaning it isn’t a charity, and will go directly into someone’s bank account. Those types of donations make it difficult to know where exactly the money is going and how it is being used.

Charity Navigator released a list of fake charities detailing just how rampant this time of scam can be. For more tips on giving wisely visit www.give.org.