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The team from Charity Navigator, the nation's largest independent charity evaluator and leading donor advocate, shares their thoughts on emerging nonprofit-sector issues and offers tips to better inform your intelligent giving decisions.

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Monday, October 8, 2018

Pink Ribbon Products: Should You Buy Them?


Each October, it seems like we’re suddenly presented with two versions of the things we want to buy: the product we know and love, and the product we know and love plus a pink ribbon and a promise to support breast cancer research. Who wouldn’t choose the second one? Those pink ribbons are a symbol of solidarity and support.

But, are they also a marketing tool? They seem to be everywhere--coffee cups, workout tops, cans of soda, and hair products. Just this weekend I passed a car dealership with pink ribbons in the windows, and pink balloons on each car. Do these businesses and corporations genuinely care about raising breast cancer awareness and funds to support research, or are they just riding the wave of pink ribbon popularity?


Before you buy that pink ribbon product (or any other charity-affiliated item), take a few moments to consider these tips to understand how your purchase will support the cause:

Is the packaging clear and transparent?

Is it clear from the product’s packaging which charity the company is supporting and how much of the product’s sales will be donated to the charity? Before you purchase the product be sure you understand how much of your purchase will be used to support the cause.

Is the relationship between the for-profit company and non-profit authentic?

Is there a meaningful or strategic partnership between the company the organization, or is this an easy way to get new eyes on the company’s products. Do you perceive any conflicts between the company’s mission and the work of the charity?

Is the charity the product supports one that you feel comfortable supporting?

This is important. Make sure you are comfortable supporting the charity the company has committed to partnering with before you buy the product. If necessary, do a little digging (Charity Navigator’s ratings are a great resource!).

Is the product something you need?

Would you buy this product even if it didn’t have an awareness or charity affiliation? If so, how does it stack up against similar products on the shelf? Is it a good value or has it been marked up?

There is nothing wrong with purchasing charity-affiliated products. Raising awareness and showing your support for a cause through the products you wear or use every day is great--just make sure you understand where your dollars are going before you make your purchase. Charities often receive a tiny fraction of product sales from the companies they partner with. If the product represents a cause that’s near-and-dear to your heart, you may consider making a gift directly to the organization instead.
  
This October, before you buy that pink ribbon product or make a donation to a breast cancer awareness charity, be sure to check out Charity Navigator’s Breast Cancer Awareness Hot Topic. This list features a number of highly-rated charities that are supporting survivors and women battling breast cancer, and funding cutting-edge research to find a cure for this disease.

Written by Ashley Post, Communications Manager at Charity Navigator.

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