Think before you go Pink this month

Don't Waste Your Money

All of us like to help out a good cause every now and then. And with October being breast cancer month, it seems every store and product is urging us to "buy pink."

But not every pink item really gives to the cause.

So how can you tell if that charity is a good cause, or a personal ATM machine for the people who run it? We have some ways to protect yourself.

Pink Items Mean Donations

They're all over the grocery store: Pink labeled potato chips, pink labeled paper towels, even pink cans of soup,

Shoppers, eager to support the fight against breast cancer, are scooping them up.

I asked one shopper if she would be more inclined to buy one of these products because it has the ribbon. Her answer: "I would probably buy them, yes."

A while back, I stood outside a supermarket parking lot with a handful of "pink" items. Everyone I showed the pink ribbon paper towels and soup cans to said it's a great idea.

No one would disagree with that.

$9 Million Went Where?

But two years ago, in 2011, New York State sued the "Coalition Against Breast Cancer," a Long Island, NY-based charity that has raised $9 million in recent years according to the lawsuit.

New York's Attorney General claimed nearly every one of those $9 million went to pay insiders, with the tiniest percent of money going to research and mammograms.

But savvy donors would have avoided the charity long ago. Both the Better Business Bureau and Charity Navigator rate charities. Both had issued advisories about this group, for failing to disclose how its money is used.

Check Out Your Pink Products

Unfortunately, not all pink products help the case the same way. The FTC urges consumers to beware "pink washing" and "pink profiteering," where little to no money goes to the cause.

When buying a pink item, look for a pink ribbon and label that says it supports Susan G. Komen For the Cure.   (Or Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure).

The Komen seal means it has been approved by the Komen charitable foundation, and that a majority of the money will go to the cause.

And if you are contacted by someone, before giving money to any charity you're not sure about, check with these two excellent charity rating sites. Click here for Charity Navigator, click here for the BBB.

They should be able to tell you if a charity is a worthy cause, or a case of don't waste your money.

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Don't Waste Your Money is a registered trademark of the EW Scripps Co.

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