The color pink means unconditional love, nurturing, and femininity. As such, it’s a natural fit as the symbol of breast health and breast cancer awareness, which began with the founding of Susan G. Komen, a non-profit organization dedicated to ending breast cancer, in 1982 and the ensuing pink ribbon promotions that followed. Since then, Breast Cancer Awareness Month has become a force to be reckoned with, garnering billions of dollars through countless organizations dedicated to the search for the cure, including spas and skincare companies. “As with any company or organization focused on a commitment to overall health and wellbeing, it’s important to act with responsibility and give back to the local community in a meaningful way,” says Gaylen Brown, spa director of the Spa at Mandarin Oriental, New York. “A spa is oftentimes viewed as a place for respite and renewal, and in giving back, you are able to contribute to the wellbeing of an individual who may not have the ability to visit the spa for a moment of tranquility and rejuvenation.” While this is, indeed, a worthy goal, the sheer volume of potential charities and their unique goals can be daunting to spas hoping to contribute. Add to this a bevy of so-called charities that may not deliver on their promises or donate appropriately to the cause, and this positive movement can become fraught with potential problems.
When beginning the search for an honest partner organization for your spa, it is important to look for charities that are open about their spending and finances. For example, Living Beyond Breast Cancer makes all of its annual reports, audits, and financial statements available to the public on its website. It has also received a four-star rating for the past 11 years on Charity Navigator, which provides a guide to intelligent giving. “You need to do your due diligence and look at the organizations’ record and rating on sites like Charity Navigator, size, community involvement, and other factors that help validate and verify the authenticity and fit of the organization,” says Gigi Abbadie, executive director of global marketing, brand mission, gifting, and institute for Aveda. Susan G. Komen also shares its financial impact yearly on its website. “This is the eleventh year Komen has spent at least 80 cents of every dollar directly on mission programs that fund breast cancer research and community health outreach programs focused on providing services to uninsured, under-insured, or medically underserved people facing breast cancer,” says Andrea Rader, senior director of communications at Susan G. Komen. According to Charity Navigator, the majority of the largest charities benefitting breast cancer patients and research spend at least 80 percent of their budgets on programs and services, and this serves as a solid benchmark.
But when it comes to charitable giving, it’s not just about the numbers. It’s equally essential to consider your spa’s connection to and passion for the cause. “The most important thing is that it’s a charity that resonates with you personally,” says Oriele Frank, cofounder and chief marketing officer for Elemis. “It should give you a tangible story that you can follow and share with your clients. Working with a charity is also a way to break down the business barriers with your customers and shows a more personal side to the business and people who work for it.” Abbadie agrees and recommends following your passion to find a partner with whom your spa can build a long-term relationship. “Be sure to choose a partner whose work inspires you and your guests,” she says. “When possible, seek partners that have local outreach with people who can visit your location and connect with your team.”
By partnering with a trustworthy organization, your spa can rest easy knowing contributions are making a real difference in the lives of breast cancer patients and the search for a cure. “Raising money for a partner should be self-motivating, not work,” says Abbadie. “The cause should be one your team is behind that brings you together so you all share in the success of the campaign. Choose your partner with your head and your heart, and you will be amazed at how much you and your team will love changing the world.”
Ten years after Susan G. Komen was founded in 1982, Self magazine and Estée Lauder distributed pink ribbons at Estée Lauder counters and through the mail to increase awareness so more women survive breast cancer. The Campaign solidified the rosy ribbon as the symbol of breast cancer awareness and more than 140 million ribbons and educational materials have been distributed to date.
Check out these websites dedicated to charitable transparency to learn vital statistics, business practices, and more to help your spa compare philanthropic organizations and connect with a reputable charity.