March 1, 2017

Wise Giving Wednesday: And the Oscar® Goes To…Charity Ribbons

As a symbol of achievement in the movie industry and perhaps worldwide, the Oscars are probably one of the most recognized awards given out today. While there is no equivalent in philanthropy, it is interesting to note that one connection to charity in this year’s awards ceremony is the appearance of the blue ribbon, representing support for the American Civil Liberties Union, on the dresses and lapels of many of the celebrities attending the event.  That subtle but visible, cloth attachment quickly communicates with the public about a cause without saying a word. 

Over the years, different color ribbons have become a staple of charity messaging. It is hard to know when it all got started, but in my younger years, I remember Tony Orlando’s 1973 pop hit, “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree” which many interpreted as a symbol for a loved one who would be welcomed home after a long absence, especially the military. Soon the yellow ribbon became a universal symbol of support for active service members and their families and today, is incorporated for use by many veterans and military service organizations. 

And of course, most of us have seen the pink ribbon, an awareness symbol of the breast cancer cause, that is used by many charities seeking to find a cure or assist those afflicted with this disease.  And, then there is the red ribbon representing HIV/AIDS awareness. Other colors have filled out this ribbon rainbow to bring public attention to various campaigns and I am sure additional ones will be created over time. 

Ribbon awareness can certainly help in charity outreach, but the public needs to be cautious when such symbols appear on retail products without any disclosure indicating how their purchase will benefit the cause. See BBB Charity Standard 19 for information on the recommended disclosures for cause-related marketing. 

Whatever charity ribbon you decide to wear proudly, remember to also take the time to verify if the sponsoring organization also meets the BBB Standards for Charity Accountability

On a separate note, as part of our Building Trust Video series, we are pleased to provide a video of Fran Solomon, Founder and President of HealGrief (a BBB Accredited Charity) which offers virtual, online support for bereaved individuals. 

We are always working with charities to publish or update reports for donors. Visit or local BBBs to check out any charity before giving. Our recently evaluated charities include: 

Finally, remember to let us know by going to if you are interested in seeing a report on a charity not on the list and we will do our best to produce one.   

H. Art Taylor, President & CEO
BBB Wise Giving Alliance