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CANCER CHARITIES: Do you really know where your donations go?

Updated: Sep 20

CANCER. The word that nobody likes to say. There are so many types of it, and everyone is affected, either personally or knowing of someone who has experienced it. So, it's only natural that you want to donate to a cancer charity - be it to research for a cure, fund a treatment or show your support by buying a t-shirt, shaving your head or running a marathon.

But there are so many cancer charities to choose from. Some are huge, some are small. Some have well known logos or symbols. Many businesses profess to donate to charities if you buy their product. But are you really sure that the product you purchase is going to such a charity? And how much of your donation is really ending up where you want it to be?


CHOOSE WISELY: Why Is This Topic So Important?

It's a huge minefield; one that we negotiated over a two-year period by researching, reading the small print and getting blown up a few times. But panic not!

We're going to help you decipher the myriad of adverts and get to the other side without being ripped off, disillusioned, and left wondering if your donation has really gone to a cancer charity, and if so, how much.



Let's start with the basics. Cancer charities are instantly recognised because of their logos. And many of those logos contain a symbol. Let's look at two major symbols - the daffodil and the ribbon.

The daffodil is a beautiful flower utilised by The Cancer Council who use a drawing of it as their logo. The actual drawing of a daffodil symbol is owned by the charity, which is well recognised and does a fantastic job of providing information and support for cancer patients. But the daffodil itself belongs to the public domain.

Now let's look at the ribbon - a symbol that has been adapted by many colours to represent different types of cancer. For instance, a pink ribbon is probably the most recognisable as being aligned with Breast Cancer. A blue ribbon aligns with Prostate Cancer. Liver Cancer is green, and Melanoma is a black ribbon. You can check them all out here .

But there's something that you probably didn't know......the ribbon is NOT copyrighted. It belongs to the public domain.

And whilst there are legal charities who have a coloured ribbon incorporated within their logo, there are also some dodgy businesses who use it within their advertising material. Why?

Because legally they CAN. And because YOU will automatically think that they are affiliated with a cancer charity.

Let's take a look at probably the best-known cancer ribbon as an example: the pink ribbon.

There is nothing stopping businesses from taking any generic pink ribbon and putting it on their product. They may be showing solidarity with Breast Cancer patients, but are they aligned with a charity? Are they donating to a charity or support network? Or are they just taking advantage of a public domain symbol which may fool you into believing that your purchase will make a difference?

Every October is generally recognised as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. If you want to ensure that your money is going towards a breast cancer charity, then do your research, know what you are buying and if and how much you are donating to a breast cancer charity.

When you see a product with a pink ribbon look at which charity or service they are donating to and how to avoid Cancer Ribbon confusion. There are quite a few businesses who jump on the cancer ribbon bandwagon each year. Of course, there ARE also bona fide companies and communities who ARE legally linked with a cancer charity. How will you know for sure? Keep reading for our 4 top tips.


LET'S EMPOWER YOU: Here's 4 steps to make a wise choice to donate to a Cancer charity

If you see a product which has a cancer ribbon or charity logo on it:

1. Check the product website. They should note that they have a charity authorisation to fundraise (and be able to produce this on request) or if they are a charity themselves, they should have a Charitable Fundraising Authority Number or display the (Australian Charities and Not for Profit Commission (ACNC) logo. If a product is claiming that they are making donations to a charity, they should specify how much (percentage of gross profits or actual dollar amount) is being donated from each sale. You can also ask by leaving a comment on their social media page. If they don't answer and prove a charity affiliation, don't buy it.

2. Don’t just take their word for it. Go to the charity website and search for the company’s name. It they are a large contributor they may show up and if not contact the charity directly to ask. You could be advising that a company is wrongly advertising an affiliation with a charity that they don’t know about and the charity will be grateful to you.

3. Think about the product that you are buying and ask yourself this question: Will a t-shirt or badge really help or am I purely wanting to show solidarity? Solidarity is a wonderful thing, but financially the charity may benefit more if you donate directly to them.

4. Check how your chosen cancer charity spends your donation. You can check at The Australian Charities and Non for Profits Commission which is the charity regulator.

The Silk Rags Project are an authorised fundraiser for Australian Cancer Research Foundation (check our and their websites). We donate a massive 38% of our gross proceeds to them on every sale. This means for every $50 spent with us - we will donate $19.03 directly to cancer research.

How do we do it? We’re small with not many overheads - so we can.

But we believe that the question should be WHY do we do it?

It's because:

* We know that cancer hits every day of every month of every year.

* We believe that everyone is already ‘aware’ of cancer.

* We want to help find cures to all types of cancer.

The Silk Rags Project provides you with an educational reading and listening experience so that you are able to personally help your friend who receives a cancer diagnosis. You'll laugh, cry and learn. Plus, we donate 38% of our gross proceeds to Australian Cancer Research Foundation.

Knowledge lasts much longer than a pink bling t shirt. Check us out at our website and share this blog with others for tips regarding cancer ribbon mania.

And do feel free to leave a comment below. Have you had a similar experience and will this article make you think any differently?

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