Something about the month of October always seemed very orange to me. Whether because of the changing of leaves or the abundance of pumpkins, I’ve always associated that color with October.
But thanks to Nancy G. Brinker, CEO and founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, October has now become linked to the color pink.
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against the color pink, however I do find the fact that the color has been trademarked and sold back to us rather distasteful.
In 1982, Brinker founded the charity organization after a promise made to her dying sister that one day she would find the cure for breast cancer. As of 2010, Susan G. Komen for the Cure has raised over $1.5 billion toward that goal.
The organization itself is admirable and without question has spread the awareness of breast cancer throughout the entire world. It has done this while maintaining Charity Navigator’s highest rating for any non-profit organization — however their marketing tactics are questionable.
Not only has the organization trademarked the phrase, “For the cure,” preventing any other awareness group from using that phrase, but they also establish corporate partnerships and create exclusive contracts in which the money raised doesn’t necessarily always go to cancer research.
Many of these corporate partnerships will label their products during the month of October with the infamous pink ribbon claiming that proceeds go to the foundation for cancer research. While this is true, many companies put caps on the amount that they are willing to donate, and once that cap is reached the rest of the money goes straight into their profits.
This blatant exploitation of human sympathies is rather appalling and borderline fraudulent, and while Brinker can’t take all the blame, her organization has the power to prevent companies from using these tactics by simply not allowing her brand to be displayed on their products.
But why would she? She’s making over $600,000 a year in base salary, not to mention money she receives from appearances.
According to Charity Navigator’s president, Ken Berger, “This pay package is way outside the norm. It's about a quarter of a million dollars more than what we see for charities of this size. This is more than the head of the Red Cross is making for an organization that is one-tenth the size of the Red Cross.”
Following the money and exploitation further, we see the NFL using the color in an arguably worse way.
For a few games during the month of October, NFL players are required to wear pink gear. This gear is then taken and auctioned off with the proceeds going toward cancer research. Sounds awesome right?
This sounds like a pretty clever idea until you realize that only a little over 8 percent of the proceeds are actually donated.
With all this evidence it’s hard for me to justify donating any money to these organizations, especially when we’re not seeing tangible results after years and years of doing this. Moreover, according to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, a man is 35 percent more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than a woman is with breast cancer, yet I don’t see billions of dollars going towards that or other more fatal cancers.
The next time you decide to donate money toward breast cancer research, ask yourself if it’s really worth it. Find out where the money is going, and don’t get fooled by exploitative, albeit absolutely genius, marketing tactics, because that is all this is.