BOISE, Idaho — October is just around the corner which means you'll have the opportunity to donate to breast cancer research, but the Better Business Bureau is asking everyone to 'think before they go pink.'
BBB says whether you donate, shop for "pink ribbon" merchandise or sign up to volunteer or participate in a walk or run, you always need to be aware of potential scams. There are often campaigns set up by well-meaning individuals who may or may not be connected and simply don't know how to manage the funds. Take the time to check out the charity to avoid wasting your generosity by donating to a questionable or poorly managed effort. The first request for a donation may not be the best choice.
The best way to avoid a scam is to be proactive and find a trusted charity. Give.org is a great resource to verify if a charity meets the BBB Standards for Charitable Accountability. Keep in mind that some crowdfunding sites do very little vetting of individuals who decide to post for assistance after a tragedy or disaster, and it's often difficult for donors to verify the trustworthiness of crowdfunding requests for support. About 40 of the 50 states in the U.S. require charities to register with a state government agency. Here in Idaho, nonprofits must register with the Secretary of State. If the charity is not registered, that may be a significant red flag.
Before donating by buying pink items or taking part in a charity function, shop smart. When you're shopping online or in-store for products that state their purchase will benefit a specific breast cancer charity, see if the promotion is transparent about how the purchase will help. BBB Charity Standards call for such campaigns to disclose the actual or anticipated portion of the purchase price that will benefit the charity.
Watch out for vague announcements that claim "proceeds" or "profits" will support a breast cancer charity. Participate carefully. In addition to cause-related marketing promotions, some breast cancer charities will also hold events like walks or races. If you're considering this route, see if there is a fee to participate, find out if you're required to sign up a minimum number of sponsors, and research the breast cancer charity to make sure it's a group you want to support.