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Breast cancer month and making donations

BBB: Don’t be misled or scammed

Many people are making donations for breast cancer research, with October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Local businesses and organizations have been a part of the trend, soliciting monetary donations, as well as marketing products and services in support of finding a cure to this disease, said Dottie Callina, spokeswoman for local Better Business Bureau (BBB).

“To avoid being misled, or even scammed, the BBB is encouraging consumers to look for companies that disclose a charity name, the amount of a sale going to the charity, the duration of marketing campaigns and, if applicable, the maximum or minimum contribution amount,” she said.

The company should share its ultimate contribution goal, and what portion of the purchases will go toward the charity, she continued.

Potential donors, she said, must ask the right questions when giving to any cause.

It is recommended that consumers research the charity with the BBB, said Callina. The BBB provides reviews of charities through its charity report –– even unfamiliar ones –– at : www.bbb.org/us/charity.

The BBB also provides consumers a list of accredited charities, she said.

If a business claims that a percentage of a product or service purchased will go toward a charity, the consumer must identify the charity, she advised.

“Confirm the charity’s corporate partners,” said Callina. “Many national breast cancer charities list the names of corporate partners and sponsors on their [web sites].”

She added that the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month organization doesn’t solicit contributions, and has not authorized the use of its name for solicitation purposes.

The organization is a partnership comprised of national public service organizations, professional medical associations and government agencies, according to its web site, www.nbcam.org.

“Be wary of appeals that are long on emotion, but short on describing what the charity does,” she warned.

Consumers who decide to donate should not use cash as a form of payment, said Callina. Use a check or money order and make it out to the charity, and not to the individual collecting the donations. A credit card is also another way one can execute a monetary donation, she said.

“Watch out for excessive pressure for on-the-spot donations,” said the spokeswoman. “Be wary of any requests to send a runner to pick up your donation.”

Consumers should take it as a warning, if a charity is unwilling to answer questions regarding its operations, finances and programs, she said. People also have the right to ask how much of their monetary donation will be used for activity explained in the appeal, and how much of it will be used for other programs, as well as administrative and fund-raising costs, she said.