I think it may have been a year ago, probably because the film is now on Netflix, a documentary called Pink Ribbons, Inc. came out in theatres, directed by one of my favourite Canadian filmmakers Lea Poole. Well it actually only came out in one theatre in Vancouver, and was only there for a few weeks so I didn’t catch, but I’m so glad I finally had a chance to watch it! Basically the film is about how the fight against breast cancer has become completely commercialized, and although these pink ribbons have done a great job in spreading awareness of this disease and the importance of getting a mammogram regularly, big businesses are cashing in and all the people doing walkathons, marathons, and fundraisers to raise money for this cause have no idea.
It’s funny that I’m actually writing about this because the Blackberry I got about two years ago is pink. When I was buying a new phone, I had the choice between a black phone and this pink phone which would also help fund money for breast cancer research. Of course I chose the pink phone, it was a no-brainer I thought, but did I ask who exactly received the proceeds from my purchase, or what specifically the money would be going towards? No. And I know I’m certainly not alone in this.
Nowadays there are so many pink products to choose from, all branded in a way that makes you think that if you buy it, you are actually doing something good. But how will you buying a pink blender, pink ribbon diamond necklace, or pink lipstick really help out women suffering from breast cancer? The big problem here is that the message is getting confused with materialism instead of charity, and people are eager to give away their hard earned cash without asking important questions like how will this money really help? There was a very interesting part of the film where five women were interviewed who were all part of a stage 4 breast cancer group. Stage four is the last stage, so all of these women were essentially told by their doctors there was nothing else they could do. It was heart breaking to hear their stories of how even though they got regular mammograms, led healthy lives, and did all the chemotherapy and radiation treatments that were available, it didn’t matter.
The problem is that even though there is ample awareness of the disease due to all the different campaigns out there, no new treatments are being introduced, and on top of that, there isn’t any regulation with all of the fundraising going on. Fundraising for breast cancer is now going global, but the money isn’t just being distributed to one mega-charity. It’s going to a number of different organizations and research facilities who aren’t keeping track of what the other one’s is doing. Essentially money is being raised, but it’s being mismanaged, and it’s believed that the same research is being overlapped because of it. Billions of fundraised dollars are being wasted people! It’s enough not to want to buy another pink product ever again!
Now, I have a little tradition I do every November in which I choose a charity to donate a few hundred dollars to, so I can do some good before Christmas and because it’s almost tax time. The first year I had my sponsor child so I thought I had a pretty good sense of where my money was going, though it was still a pretty big organization and it wasn’t local at all. Then last year I donated some money to Women’s Hospital in Vancouver, since I know quite a few women who have had to go there, and it supports new mothers and their babies in the city I live in. But after donating a few hundred dollars to the hospital, I started getting a bunch of magazines and flyers in the mail from them, almost monthly it seemed, which made me realized what my money was actually paying for. This year I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do, but I know I’m going to do a lot more research beforehand, and go micro, local, and try to know as much as possible about where my money is going and what it will be doing to help. I actually wrote a post for Bargain Moose a little while ago about ways to give back without giving money, so if I don’t find something that suits me, I might just grow out my hair and donate it after my wedding instead.
Do you donate money to charities? How do you decide which charity to choose?
-Mo’ Houses out!