It's not because I don't care about breast cancer. I do. I turned 40 this year and most doctors believe that forty is the magic age where you need to get mammograms. I had a bit of a scare two years ago. I found a lump in some tissue during a self-exam and ended up getting a sonogram of my breast. Thankfully, I was ok.
I think it's really important that women understand how to do self breast exams and even more important that everyone who needs a mammogram is able to get one. As well as everyone having access to quality treatment if, god forbid, a spot is detected on the mammogram.
What isn't important, however, is that you use this month to buy everything pink and believe you are supporting research that will end breast cancer. Is it important to be a good citizen and support causes you find worthy? Absolutely. However, a little research into the pink-ing that happens in October shows that an fiscally unhealthy percentage of the sales does not go to the charity you think you are supporting.
Based on a quick scan of many items available this year, it appears that 20% of the purchase price going to charity seems to be a big deal. But what about the other 80%? Sure there are manufacturing, advertising, distribution and employee costs. But 20%? According to Charity Navigator, at least two thirds of the money earned should go towards programming, or in the this case, towards the cause. Sure, they aren't apples to apples, but the same philosophy applies. Still, there is a huge difference between 20-66.6%. How much is doing good work and how much is selling pink things to boost their sales numbers before the holidays kick in?
As a good rule of thumb when looking at BCA products this month, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Would I buy it anyway? We all know I'm the queen of shopping math, but I draw the line at pink-ing. If you weren't in the market for the item already, then keep walking. Make a donation to your favorite BCA charity (or any charity for that matter).
2. Are you comfortable buying a product knowing what the contribution is? Ask before you buy. You'll be shocked to see how many of the contributions are minuscule. Keep in mind that 60% is a healthy minimum. If you are happy to contribute that amount through your purchase, then go for it!
3. Ask where the money is going. Sure, many of you may not care. Your one purchase doesn't really mean anything after all and it makes you feel nice to support a good cause, right? If an unusually high amount goes towards staffing costs, then you should think twice. Your contribution may be lining the pockets of the rich.
I've personally told the publicists I work with that I'm not interested in anything pink where less than 60% of the purchase price goes directly to the charity. Maybe it's just me, but I haven't been pitched anything BCA-related since.
Keep in mind, some companies make flat donations to charities and have a cute product that contributes towards that donation. I'd rather know upfront what the intentions are and make an informed decision. At the end of the day, here are my thoughts.
Buy what you want, donate what you can and do your best. But I won't be suggesting anything on this blog that looks or smells of pink-ing.
How do you feel about Pinktober? Do you shop or skip? Let's discuss in the comments!
I founded and run a very small non-profit organization called Karma Dogs. We don't have a staff or much money to spend. However, since it's inception, we have not gone down any financial path where the balance of non-profit fiscal health would be disrupted or questioned.
* If a product meets my requirements and I think you might be interested, I'll share the details. It could happen!
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