A.G. Schneiderman Launches Review Of Breast Cancer Consumer Campaigns

With National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Rise In ‘Cause Marketing’ – Sale Of Products That Promise Benefit To Breast Cancer Charities

Charities Bureau Review To Ensure That Money From Purchases Goes Where Intended

Schneiderman: Consumers Deserve To Know Their Purchases Will Help As Promised


NEW YORK – As businesses and consumers participate in National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced a review of cause marketing campaigns that promise to benefit breast cancer charities with the sale of certain products and services.

At the Attorney General’s direction, the Charities Bureau has sent questionnaires to companies and charities engaged in breast cancer cause marketing to solicit information about their campaigns, which merge consumer sales with charitable giving by advertising that purchases will support breast cancer organizations.

“National Breast Cancer Awareness Month continues to raise our understanding of and support for breast cancer charities, and consumers who intend to support this cause deserve to know that their purchases do the good promised,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “This review will help ensure that cause marketing campaigns provide the benefit that’s expected, and that we protect consumers, charities, and above all, the women and families affected by this devastating disease.”

Cause marketing campaigns have become an important fundraising tools for charities, particularly those focused on breast cancer, and this review is intended to promote the public’s confidence in supporting these campaigns. The information obtained will assist the Attorney General’s office in ensuring that cause marketing sufficiently protects both consumers and charities.

Attorney General Schneiderman’s initiative follows other actions taken to protect the breast cancer cause, the donors who give and people it serves.  In June, the Attorney General sued to shut down the Coalition Against Breast Cancer, a sham charity that fraudulently raised millions of dollars under the guise of fighting breast cancer. In August, two defendants pleaded guilty to criminal charges for misusing more than $500,000 donated to the phony Coalition For Breast Cancer Cures. The money intended to fight breast cancer was diverted to pay for personal travel, shopping and other unlawful extravagancies.

The Attorney General offered the following tips to consumers when purchasing products sold in cause marketing campaigns:

  • Check The Benefit Amount. Read the packaging, contact the charity or product manufacturer to find out how much of the purchase price will actually be donated.
  • See Who Will Benefit. Does the promotion clearly state which charity will receive the donations?  Are you familiar with the charity?  Visit the Attorney General’s searchable charities registry at www.charitiesnys.com for more information about the organization that stands to benefit.
  • Find Out How Purchase Will Make A Difference.  In some cases, the business has agreed to donate a specific amount, regardless of the number of items sold. Others will limit the amount they will donate, and may have reached that amount by the time of your purchase.  See if such limits are disclosed.   
  • Ask About Additional Action. Read the fine print on the label before you make the purchase – some companies require you to take further action to complete the donation, entering a code on a website or mailing in a proof of purchase.  You may also be asked to provide personal information, such as your name and email address, to complete the process. 
  • Check The Date. Many cause marketing campaigns have a time limit. Check the packaging to see if one is mentioned and, if so, whether it has expired. 

For general information on donating to charity, see the Attorney General’s Tips on Charitable Giving.