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Group urges smart donating during Breast Cancer Awareness Month
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Tips for donors

If a product boasts a Breast Cancer Awareness pink ribbon, ask questions such as what percentage of the sale price will be donated and to which charity.

Ask whether there is a cap on the donations or if a percentage will only be donated for a limited period of time.

If a business claims to be a sponsor of or donate proceeds to a particular charity, contact the charity to confirm — consider donating directly to the charity instead.

Many of the pink ribbon projects are associated with national organizations. Consider giving to local cancer treatment, research and support organizations:

The Glory, Hope & Life Foundation:

The Medical Center Foundation:

Sources: Better Business Bureau and The Times

During October, pink has become one of the most universal fall colors.

Anything from NFL jerseys to household items is assigned the symbolic pink colors marking the product as supporting a breast cancer charity.

For well-meaning folks seeking to partake in charitable giving during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Better Business Bureau seeks to help people avoid being taken advantage of.

“... every year, some (people) find a way to take advantage of these good deeds — a practice known as ‘pinkwashing,’” the consumer advocacy group stated in a news release.

BBB advises consumers to research pink product claims before purchasing.

“The widely recognized pink ribbon symbol is not regulated by an agency and does not necessarily mean it promotes breast cancer research and/or charities,” the release continued. “While other companies give a portion of an item’s cost to a breast cancer organization, (consumers) may need to research the claims in order to know how their donation will benefit the cause.”

Even a sincere business collaboration, resulting in a donation to a national organization, may not impact the local community the way a person would like.

Dr. Charles Nash, a medical oncologist in Gainesville at the Longstreet Cancer Center and medical director of the Cancer Center at Northeast Georgia Medical Center, said the national cancer organizations do play an important role.

“I think they have their place, and ... some of it funds local services back to the community, like mammogram screening,” Nash said.

But as with any nonprofit, it can be harder to know how much of a donated dollar goes to things such as advertising and operational funds.

“A lot of it goes to support their organization itself — of course that’s true of any nonprofit,” Nash said. “You always wonder how much goes to the (organization rather) than back to the patient, and sometimes it’s hard to put your finger on that number.”

Giving directly to area treatment and patient groups is an effective way to see that money resonate within the community, Nash said.

“Donations made to The Medical Center Foundation can be designated for cancer, for example. With Glory, Hope & Life, almost all of it goes straight smack dab to the patients — transportation, gas, cars, help for food and services, wigs, things like that,” Nash said.

The local community is not short on philanthropists: In December, the Chronicle of Philanthropy gave Gainesville a ranking of 76 out of 366 major cities in the U.S. for charitable giving.

A local donation is also a way to contribute to cancer research, Nash said.

“We work with the medical center on full comprehensive cancer programs, with more than 60 clinical trials, looking at various types of cancer treatment programs, treatment options and research opportunities,” Nash said. “We have a big, big effort going on here.”