Each October, countries around the world celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness Month, focused on raising support and awareness for one of the most common cancers affecting women worldwide. According to the Centers for Disease Control, breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women.

There are countless ways to give back, and consumers help raise millions of dollars for breast cancer research each year, often by purchasing “pink ribbon” items. However, just because a charity advertises that the proceeds benefit breast cancer research or awareness doesn’t mean you’re donating wisely. When deciding which charity to donate to, be sure to ask key questions such as:

• How much money goes to breast cancer programs and services?

• What breast cancer programs or services does the organization support?

• Is the money used for breast cancer awareness or breast cancer research? If raising awareness, what efforts are made to raise awareness and to what effect? If it’s research, what aspects of breast cancer are being researched and how are the results helping to end breast cancer?

The Better Business Bureau recommends caution when choosing a charity to support and offers the following advice from BBB’s Wise Giving Alliance:

• Buy smart. Some businesses donate a portion of the sale of specific items designated with pink ribbons or wrappers. When shopping for “pink ribbon” items, check to see if the promotion is transparent about which charity it will benefit and what portion of the purchase will be donated. Beware of vague tax returns for the benefit of unspecified charities.

• Check the charity. Charities accredited with the BBB Wise Giving Alliance adhere to the 20 BBB Charitable Standards. If you’re considering donating to a charity you’re unfamiliar with, head over to Donate. org at

check out his charity report or find reputable organizations to donate to. When researching a charity, pay close attention to its name, as some dubious charities may use similar names to established organizations.

• Participate carefully. Some charities hold fundraising events in addition to marketing promotions. If this interests you, gather all the important information before signing up. Is there a participation fee or do you have to register a minimum number of sponsors? Is the event being held in-person or virtual and, if in-person, what procedures are being followed to minimize the spread of COVID-19? Always research the charity or group hosting the event before signing up.

• Take action. If your favorite charity isn’t hosting events or promotions during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, contact them directly to see how you can volunteer or donate in your spare time. Every type of contribution helps. For charity reports and other insider tips, go to Give.org.