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Be Careful While Promoting Charitable Causes

By October 14, 2011

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October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. That's why we're seeing so much pink everywhere, as people fight to save lives. But as members of the media, we have a responsibility to make sure the efforts we promote really help the cause and aren't just part of someone's pink-themed, self-serving business strategy.

A photo of a pink NASCAR race car
You can find pink everywhere during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Photo © Getty Images for NASCAR
About.com's Cancer Guide Lisa Fayed has an excellent post describing the dilemma we all face. People want to buy pink items to support the top breast cancer charities, and we in media want to do our part for our communities. But we should all check the fine print to see where the dollars are really going.

If someone wants to buy a $10 pink T-shirt and have little or none of their money go toward fighting breast cancer, it's their right to do so. But it's easy for us in media to simply say, "Help fight breast cancer, get your pink T-shirt," without asking questions.

Before you promote anything on the air, online or in print, here are the questions to ask:

  • Is the money going to a legitimate charitable organization?
  • What percentage of the money is really going to help people in need?
  • Is there a way to verify what the money will be used for -- direct aid or someone's salary?

The push to find a cure for breast cancer has been phenomenal, and it keeps growing every year. Most of the sales of pink merchandise will help in prevention, treatment and research. But it's simply too easy for a few businesses to capitalize on this movement without offering any help to anyone. It's not illegal, but make sure you're not doing their marketing, for free, believing you're taking part in this important cancer fight.

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