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Light a Virtual Candle For AIDS Email Request

Summary:
Email claims that Bristol-Myers will donate $1 every time someone lights a virtual candle on the "Light to Unite" website (Full commentary below).



Status:
Was true, but the $100,000 contribution limit has now been reached.

Example:(Submitted, December 2006)
Light a virtual candle at the link below.

Bristol-Myers is donating $1 to the National AIDS Fund every time someone goes to their website and moves the match to the candle and lights it.

Please forward to your friends family and colleagues.

It takes a second to raise a dollar.

https://www.lighttounite.org /

After you light your candle, please pass this important message on.




Commentary:
This email forward claims that every time a visitor lights a virtual candle at the Light to Unite website, pharmaceutical company, Bristol-Myers Squibb will donate $1 to the National AIDS Fund. The information in the message was true. However, Bristol-Myers Squibb set an upper limit of $100,000 for its contribution and this limit has already been reached. According to a Bristol-Myers News Release on the subject:
On the "Light to Unite" Web site, visitors can light a virtual candle, share stories about how HIV/AIDS has impacted their lives, and help increase awareness of the epidemic by e-mailing a friend. For each virtual candle lit through December 31, 2006, Bristol-Myers Squibb will contribute $1 to the National AIDS Fund, up to a maximum contribution of $100,000, to benefit AIDS service organizations in underserved communities in the U.S. Web site visitors will also have the opportunity to increase the impact of the Bristol-Myers Squibb contribution to the National AIDS Fund by making an additional donation on the National AIDS Fund Web site at http://www.aidsfund.org/.

Although the company's charitable scheme may seem generous, Bristol-Myers Squibb has been criticized for not making it clear on the Light to Unite web site that it only intended to contribute a total of $100,000. Indeed, at the time of writing, you can still light a virtual candle even though the contribution limit has been well and truly reached. The site does not make obvious to the visitor that his or her candle lighting will no longer result in a donation. In fact, well over 1 million virtual candles have now been lit, but only the first 100,000 of these resulted in a $1 contribution.

That said, the mission of the site is not only to raise funds but also to create awareness of AIDS related issues. The site achieves this by including personal AIDS related stories submitted by site visitors as well as other resources including a newsletter. It also provides information about how to contribute directly to the National AIDS Fund. However, if you forward this message, please ensure that your recipients are aware that it is not currently true that a dollar will be donated by Bristol-Myers Squibb for every virtual candle lit.

Bristol-Myers Squibb has run "Light to Unite" fund-raising campaigns in previous years and may do so again in the years to come.

References:
Bristol-Myers Squibb and The National AIDS Fund Announce World AIDS Day Campaign to Shine a Light on the HIV/AIDS Epidemic in the United States
Bristol-Myers charity promo sparks reaction
National AIDS Fund

Last updated: 11 December 2006
First published: 11 December 2006

Write-up by Brett M.Christensen