Nonprofits: Let’s Take Back October

Take Back OctoberWhen the calendar turns to October in the nonprofit sector, it means one thing: breast cancer awareness month. With increased criticism behind the pink ribbon movement, pink washing, many critics (and “cause bandits”) question the effectiveness of the over-saturated pink market.

“We are really no closer to a cure today than we were two decades ago. In 1991, 119 women in the U.S. died of breast cancer every day. Today, that figure is 110 — a victory no one is bragging about,” as reported by Lea Goldman in The Big Business of Breast Cancer.

Where did the pink ribbon movement go wrong? There are many in the nonprofit sector who would love to see their cause get so much press and to raise so many dollars from cause marketing campaigns. But when the momentum and dollars behind a cause campaign do not have impact, are we really serving our nonprofit mission?

It’s time for nonprofit organizations everywhere to reclaim October. Let’s not stand in the shadows of pink. Let’s get out there and continue to make a difference in our world. Here’s some important lessons learned from the pink washing movement and ways you can have impact in October:

1. Put your mission on the table. What should your organization be measuring? Surely it is not dollars raised or pink ribbons worn. How about lives saved or impacted?

2. Show impact. Reframe your cause story around what you should be measuring and share it. Tell your story with passion and in a way that shows your cause impact.

3. Have a specific and measurable call to action. People see increased pink in October, but are not changing behaviors to prevent breast cancer. How can your cause campaign and cause story inspire action?

4. Live up to your cause name. Is cure in your name? Make sure your actions are focused on eradicating what you are working so hard to fight. Your name is a promise. Live up to it.

2 Responses to Nonprofits: Let’s Take Back October
  1. Doreen Slessor
    November 22, 2011 | 1:35 pm

    Yay! Finally someone brave enough to put on paper what I have been thinking for many years. I work for an organization that deals with Family Violence and November is Family Violence awareness month, heaven forbid we try to sneak in anything the last week of October! I truly support and believe in their cause (my sister has breast cancer) but I have never dontated in October as I don’t believe in the marketing machine and the companies that use the “think pink” as a way to sell more products. If my family buy me another set of pink golf balls I will scream! Yes, lets the rest of us take back October!

  2. Jen Price
    November 23, 2011 | 5:39 am

    Thanks for your comment, Doreen. Happy, healing thoughts to your sister as she faces breast cancer.

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