Lin MacMaster of the American Cancer Society and Stacy Palmer, editor of the Chronicle of Philanthropy, delve into the massive corporate and philanthropic efforts to support breast cancer awareness. (The Washington Post)

November brought the end of Breast Cancer Awareness month and the annual onslaught of bright pink accessories that blanket your favorite sports teams, coffee shops, bottled beverages and so on each October.

This year’s campaign also raised questions about the movement’s efficacy, and about who gets the biggest benefit from participating in it. The NFL’s “Crucial Catch” campaign drew criticism last month when Business Insider estimated that only about 8 percent of the money spent on its pink-branded merchandise goes to American Cancer Society research.

In Friday’s On Background, host Nia-Malika Henderson, Chronicle of Philanthropy editor Stacy Palmer and American Cancer Society’s Lin MacMaster discussed how much of the money from the NFL and other campaigns are actually used to support ACS research and other awareness efforts. Palmer also explained how to make sure your donations have the biggest impact, offering these tips:

  • Donate money directly to the nonprofit you want to support, instead of buying merchandise from a third party.
  • Read up about the group and ask tough questions. If answers aren’t forthcoming, there may be cause for concern. Scam charities, particularly ones promoting breast cancer research, are prevalent, so vet them carefully
  • There are numerous large, established and trustworthy organizations. If you have doubts about the legitimacy of an organization, consider donating to another, better-known one.


What do you think? Is painting the town pink the best way to raise money and awareness for breast cancer, or to support those who suffer from it? And are corporate campaigns doing more to raise awareness or their own images with their efforts to support it? Watch the segment above and weigh in in the comments or on Twitter using #Postback. 

This post has been updated.