If the packaging doesn't say, don't pay. The name and website of the organization that benefits from the sale, and the percentage of the sale price being given, should be printed on the label.

Sometimes a pink ribbon is just a pink ribbon. Anyone can slap a colored-ribbon image on a product and claim to be promoting "awareness." That doesn't mean they're giving any of their money to cancer research and support.

Where the rubber meets the wrist, proceed with caution. The trend in showing support for a charitable cause by wearing inexpensive rubber bracelets was a good idea, but they are now so ubiquitous that unless you're buying one directly from a foundation or other reliable source, you could be rewarding a rip-off artist.

Beware of vague claims like "a percentage of net proceeds." Unless they also include a specific figure. This is just doublespeak for "we don't really want to tell you how little we're giving, so this makes it easy to fudge."

Do comparison shopping online. A pink cotton "limited edition" tank top selling for $42 with only $5 going to breast cancer may have had its retail price pre-inflated. A better bet would be a pink tank from that sells for $20, with 65 percent ($13) going to the Avon Foundation Breast Cancer Crusade.

Think about the primary reason you're buying. Do it because you like it, you need it, or it's a good value, not because it's pink. You can always donate directly to any reputable organization dedicated to breast cancer.

Check to see which of the largest 23 organizations dedicated to breast cancer research, support and awareness use their funds most efficiently, including an at-a-glance ratings list of the charities from four stars to one star.