Komen: Collateral Damage Assessments Made on the Fly


March 14, 2012; Source: The New Yorker

The New York City affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure has announced that it has cancelled its annual awards gala. Vern Calhoun, a spokesman for the affiliate, said, “After much discussion, the Board of Directors of the Greater New York City Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure decided to postpone our new spring event, the Awards Gala, to a later date because we were not certain about our ability to fundraise in the near term.” Amy Davidson, the author of this article, says that other such Komen events have also been cancelled.

This, of course, comes in the wake of the dust up around Komen’s defunding of Planned Parenthood which was widely seen as a politically motivated act. A massive outcry against the agency’s behavior occurred at the time and Komen rescinded its defunding decision but many wondered if the group had created long lasting damage to its fundraising capacity.

Erin Gloria Ryan, writing for Jezebel, comments, They’re probably right to worry. Since rescinding and then reinstating grants given to Planned Parenthood for breast screenings, Komen’s signature Race for the Cure events have turned in seriously disappointing numbers. In Fort Worth, registrations for the event are down 42 percent as compared to last year. Southwestern Florida’s race only raised two-thirds of the money organizers set out to raise. And in Arizona, donations to the organization are down 60 percent as compared to last year.” A spokeswoman for Komen responds that some campaigns may be down but some are up.

Meanwhile, we are watching more high-level resignations at Komen, including Katrina McGhee, Komen’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer, and Dara Richardson-Heron, CEO of Komen’s New York City affiliate. Both cited “personal” reasons.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in coverage of the war against women, Margaret Talbot, also of The New Yorker, reveals that 2011 saw 80 new restrictions on abortion rights enacted by state legislatures, as contrasted to 23 in 2010. –Ruth McCambridge

  • Laura McLean

    “The war against women”?!? Are you serious? The Komen story is about a nonprofit responding to pressure from donors, and then flipping its decision due to overwhelming pressure from a group that it supposedly had the free choice of whether to contribute to or not. And the massive fallout generated by the media campaign against it. Heretofore I trusted NPQ to give me news about the nonprofit world in a (relatively) nonbiased way. How can you possibly justify that Komen is conducting a “war against women” when their entire game plan is about fighting a women’s disease? I recognize that you are reprinting from The New Yorker, but this is your website, supposedly a newsfeed, and the article is not listed under the Opinion tab.

    I am dismayed and strongly protest against the last paragraph of this article. You have lost a lot of credibility here.

  • Jose J. Soto

    My individual reaction to the Komen decision to not fund Planned Parenthood…. I have suspended, probably forever, my involvement with the Komen Foundation… no fundrasing, no walks, no collecting yogurt lids, no wearing pink, and just directed a $12,500 gift to the local Planned Parenthood affifialte in Lincoln NE for community education and outrech… which I am sure will include educational materials on breat cancer.

  • Douglas Gould

    The irony is that the public reaction was easily predictable because it happened before. Long before online organizing existed, ATT was pummeled in the press and by shareholders when they boldly announced in the mid-1980s that they would no longer fund Planned Parenthood because of right-wing complaints. As Communications VP for Planned Parenthood at the time, we ran full page newspaper ads all over the country under the banner “ATT Hangs Up on Planned Parenthood.” Besides the bad press, allied organizations that held ATT stock organized a protest and ultimately brought a resolution to the floor of the annual stockholders meeting, which was dominated by the debate over Planned Parenthood. What a black eye and what a distraction for ATT. History repeated for Komen and this time in spades because of social media.