Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Thursday issued best practices to promote transparency in campaigns for charitable causes, a growing billion-dollar-a-year industry in which companies advertise that the sale or use of a product will result in a charitable contribution.
Schneiderman’s best practices, released during October, which is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, came after a yearlong review of “pink ribbon” and similar campaigns of nearly 150 companies, according to a news release.
The attorney general’s office review found that consumers often don’t know how their purchases will benefit charity.
“National Breast Cancer Awareness Month continues to increase our understanding of breast cancer and raise funds for the charities fighting it,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “Consumers who intend to support this worthy cause deserve to know that their purchases do the good promised by the pink ribbon campaigns.”
The nation’s two largest breast cancer charities, Susan G. Komen For The Cure and Breast Cancer Research Foundation, have agreed to adopt the best practices.
Under the guidelines, companies will disclose information about how purchases will result in donations, such as the amount that will be donated from each purchase. Companies using ribbons and similar symbols on products must make clear to consumers if a purchase will trigger a donation or if the symbols are used merely for awareness of a cause.
The best practices also call for more transparency in social media campaigns, in which companies promise donations if consumers agree to “like” or “follow” them or their products.
When campaigns conclude, companies should display on their Web sites how much was raised.
“These guidelines will bolster public confidence in cause marketing and hopefully will result in more money going to fighting this horrible disease,” Schneiderman said.