We are constantly bombarded with symbolism. We have ribbons for a variety of causes ranging from yellow supporting our troops in combat zones, pink ribbons to show support for breast cancer research, red ribbons to show our concern for HIV/AIDS, religious symbols - all kinds of symbols representing a favorite cause.
Most of these items that we wear, or mount on our car bumper, are the result of a transaction where we give a selected cause financial support, and our return is a physical symbol. We never really know how much of our contribution actually makes it to the end user of the donation - however we expect it to be small given the overhead cost of making and distributing symbols, as well as compensation to those who manage the contributions and donations.
On a recent run to 7/11 I noticed the yellow plastic bracelets are still being sold and distributed to symbolize a contribution and support for cancer research. Again, if I did buy a bracelet, I would wonder how much of my money is actually going to end up materially contributing to actual cancer research.