BALTIMORE — In the month of October, pink products flood the market, but as a consumer, how do you know if your purchase benefits a breast cancer organization?
Susan G. Komen launched a new website called LivePink that provides more transparency on where your money is going. The organization partnered with 16 companies to highlight products and services which directly benefit the fight against breast cancer.
For example, $0.75 cents of a $19.99 pillow purchase goes to Susan G. Komen, but the nonprofit is also getting a $50,000 minimum donation from Pegasus Home Fashions, Inc. And $10 of a $150 beach cruiser purchase will go to the organization, and so will $200,000 from Kent.
"Susan G. Komen really made an effort and is making a concerted effort to inform everyone that it's not about awareness, it is about impact. So you need to know what organization your pink products are supporting and how they're supporting that mission for full transparency," said Christina Alford, senior vice-president of development for Susan G. Komen.
For products not listed on the website, Angie Barnett, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Greater Maryland, recommends consumers think with their heads instead of their hearts.
"If you see a product that you really like, ask yourself do you need it, is it something you want? Because I would say if not, I would go directly to the charity and make that $25 contribution straight to the charity," said Barnett.
If you decide it's something you need, investigate further.
"A good legitimate company will actually post on their website that they're raising money for this cause, how much, the time limit, if there's a cap, any of the details you need to know that might persuade you," Barnett said.
And your research shouldn't stop there. It's important to know how the nonprofit is utilizing your donation. Charity Navigator makes that easy to find out.
According to the website, 77.5 percent of Susan G. Komen's expenses are for programs while 9 percent are for administrative and 13.5 percent for fundraising.
The BBB Wise Giving Alliance recommends at least 65 percent of a nonprofit's total expenses go to programs.
And while smaller charities may be able to direct more of their money to programs, it's important to keep in mind that larger organizations have more overhead because they're bigger. They're also able to spread their message on a national level and influence more people to contribute to the cause.
Finally, Barnett recommends furthering your donation by giving directly to the nonprofit instead of a solicitor.
"If I'm going to give $25, $100, or $5, I want to make sure to avoid the middle man, it goes straight to that nonprofit," said Barnett.