BBB Tip: How to help during Breast Cancer Awareness Month

In 1985, breast cancer survivor and former First Lady Betty Ford, wife of President Gerald Ford, helped kick off the first Breast Cancer Awareness Month with a weeklong event focused on educating women about the early signs of breast cancer.

In the 37 years since its launch, Breast Cancer Awareness Month has been recognized every October, raising millions of dollars in breast cancer research, awareness and treatment in multiple countries worldwide. An estimated 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer throughout their life, and the American Cancer Society estimates 287,850 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in 2022. As businesses and consumers worldwide prepare for National Breast Cancer Awareness month this October, many business owners may be curious how they can participate in fundraising for this worthy cause.

One of the most recognizable Breast Cancer Awareness Month campaigns is the pink ribbon found on the uniforms of many professional sports teams, along with on countless products and promotions which donate a portion of their proceeds to charities focused on breast cancer research. However, some unethical businesses capitalize on the prominence of these pink ribbons during October and attach them to their products and services without contributing, a practice known as ‘pinkwashing.’

To prevent this, Breast Cancer Action recommends consumers ask a few questions before purchasing pink ribbon items:

  • Does any money from this purchase go to support breast cancer programs? How much?
  • What organization will get the money? What will they do with the funds, and how do these programs turn the tide of the breast cancer epidemic?
  • Is there a “cap” on the amount the company will donate? Has this maximum donation already been met? Can you tell?
  • Does this purchase put you or someone you love at risk for exposure to toxins linked to breast cancer? What is the company doing to ensure its products are not contributing to the breast cancer epidemic?

There is no law or regulating agency overseeing the use of pink ribbons, and trustworthy businesses that can answer these questions are encouraged to participate in this promotion. Still, businesses need to carefully examine the charity their donation will go to.

To help make informed charitable donations, Better Business Bureau recommends business owners follow these tips when raising funds for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Check the charity’s profile on Checking the charity’s profile on provides in-depth information based on the 20 BBB Standards for Charity Accountability. Charities can also apply to become a Wise Giving Alliance (WGA) Accredited Charity for free, and many organizations focusing on breast cancer have met accreditation standards. BBB recommends checking a charity’s profile before donating to ensure that every cent will be used wisely and responsibly.

Donate a portion or percentage of services or products sold during October. Businesses that honor the promise to contribute have multiple options when it comes time to donate. For example, some may donate a certain percentage of total sales made during the month, a portion of the sale of a singular product or a fixed amount if a specific goal is achieved. Regardless of how funds are raised, businesses must remain realistic in the amount they can contribute without significantly affecting their livelihood. To avoid accidentally promising to donate more money than they can afford, many place a cap on the donation amount for the pink ribbon product or service.

Organize or sponsor a fundraising event. In addition to providing a portion of proceeds from selling pink ribbon items, businesses can organize various other events to fundraise for breast cancer research. A few of the top ideas recommended by the National Breast Cancer Foundation include hosting or sponsoring a sporting challenge, a head shave challenge, a gala dinner, a sports event or a race day. Businesses can also research community events they can participate in, such as team walks or races.

Encourage staff to volunteer at fundraising events. Business owners unable to host or sponsor an event can also show support by encouraging their employees to volunteer for a fundraiser. Encouragement could be simply mentioning the importance of the event at a staff meeting, providing the time off for volunteers to attend, or compensating them for their time by paying their regular wage while volunteering.

Share information about breast cancer on social media. Businesses can share social media posts from reputable organizations during October, which provide information about the impact, signs and symptoms of breast cancer. They can also share fundraising initiatives for credible organizations on their business pages, encouraging their customers and clients to contribute individually.

For more information on donating wisely and to search for charity profiles, visit