Want to Support Breast Cancer Research? Give to Charity, Not the NFL

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Just 8 percent of the money spent on NFL Pink merchandise actually goes toward breast cancer research and programs. You can do a lot better.

Pink, pink, pink — and green, green, green.

It’s Pinktober, also known as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It’s also known as the time of year everybody hawks pink merchandise and promises to donate some of the money to charity, even though often very little of it actually is. And the NFL, which decks out fields, balls, players, coaches and referees in pink, is just as guilty.

Only 8 percent of the money spent on pink NFL merchandise goes toward cancer research, Business Insider says. Here’s how that breaks down:

  • For every $100 in pink merchandise sold, $12.50 is paid in royalties to the NFL.
  • 90 percent of the royalty ($11.25 per $100) is donated to the American Cancer Society, and the NFL keeps the rest.
  • What about the other $87.50? Well, $37.50 goes to the company making the merchandise.
  • The other $50 goes to the company selling the merchandise — which is often the NFL or an NFL team.
  • So that’s up to 51.25 percent going to the NFL, and 11.25 percent going to the American Cancer Society.
  • But only 71.2 percent of the money given to the American Cancer Society is spent on research and cancer programs, and 21.8 percent is spent on fundraising. The rest is overhead.

The NFL says it doesn’t “retain any profits generated by royalties received due to the sale of Pink products. All dollars are either donated to ACS or used to pay expenses incurred to produce and promote the campaign.” In other words, those dollars aren’t going into an executive’s pocket, which is nice to know — but they are used to make the NFL look good.

If you’d prefer that more than 8 percent of your dollars go toward breast cancer research, check out the nonprofit Charity Navigator. It looks into how charities spend their money, and has done a lot of research on breast cancer charities. Among the two dozen largest such charities, it says, “one charity spends less than 2 percent of its budget on fundraising expenses, while another spends nearly 98 percent!”  

It also says, “Many of these charities spend at least 80 percent of their budgets on programs and services, while four spend less than 50 percent.”

Charity Navigator gives the American Cancer Society a ranking of just two stars out of four. There are 11 four-star charities and six three-star charities that could use your support.

Stacy Johnson

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