How much of the NFL breast cancer gear revenue actually goes to research?

Sarah Hofmann Contributor
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The NFL has been promoting its breast cancer awareness program through pink equipment and Web campaigns. Players are wearing pink shoes, cheerleaders don pink outfits and the NFL official merchandise website is full of gear that fans can buy to support the American Cancer Society’s breast cancer research.

But how much of the money raised through gear sales actually goes to breast cancer research? Only $8 out of every $100 spent on merchandise, according to an ESPN reporter.

The “Crucial Catch” campaign, which started when Tanya Snyder, wife of Redskins owner Dan Snyder, started doing events with the Redskins in 1999, the New York Post reports.

“It was driven by a simple concept: one ribbon at a time and one fan at a time. It was a wonderful event,” she said. The larger campaign was officially adopted by the entire league in 2009.

“Throughout October, NFL games will feature players, coaches and referees wearing pink game apparel, on-field pink ribbon stencils, special game balls and pink coins — all to help raise awareness for this important campaign,” the league explains.

The game apparel is later auctioned off, and the proceeds go to the American Cancer Society’s Community Health Advocates National Grants for Empowerment program.

The other part of the campaign is the merchandise that fans can buy from the NFL store. The secret, however, is that very little of the sales from that merchandise actually go to breast cancer research. ESPN’s Darren Rovell tweeted that the NFL takes a 25 percent royalty from half of the retail price, then donates 90 percent of what’s left over to the American Cancer Society.

That ends up being roughly 11.25 percent of sales going to the Cancer Society. The remaining money goes to the manufacturer and merchandiser. The merchandisers are usually the individual teams in this scenario.

Out of that 11.25 percent given to the ACS, only 71.2 percent goes to research, according to Charity Navigator. So, in total, 8.02 percent of sales from NFL breast cancer awareness merchandise actually goes to breast cancer research.

A typical item for sale on the NFL website would be a Nike Washington Redskins Breast Cancer Awareness Performance Pullover Hoodie, which retails for $74.95. From a sale of this hoodie, $6.01 goes towards breast cancer research.

Although the campaign does raise awareness, a more effective way to raise money for actual research would be to set up an easy system for fans to donate directly to the research arm of ACS.

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