Komen: Affiliate Contributions Lag and Leadership Suck Continues

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January 13, 2014; The NonProfit Times

When an organization has a challenge similar to what the Susan G. Komen foundation experienced in 2011, the effects and ramifications can take a while to emerge. In 2011, Komen decided to stop funding Planned Parenthood, and aligning to the national politics at the moment, caused a public relations nightmare that the organization has not been able to recover from. The fundraising impact resulting from the fallout could have easily been predicted. Komen announced in the summer of 2013 that it was reducing the number of its three-day, 60-mile fundraising walks in 2014 from 14 to seven.

While it has been reported that contributions and other revenue dipped by 22 percent in 2013, the impact of Komen’s issues can be seen mostly at the local level. In Lakeland, a suburban community between Tampa and Orlando, the online numbers for donations on Tuesday afternoon showed $9,879 donated so far toward the goal of $100,000, with their race occurring in just three days. A local breast cancer organization, Think Pink, has received $139,000 from April 2013–March 2014, down from $200,000 the previous year, and is budgeting just $100,000 for the 2014–2015 year. According to the local Lakeland paper, “Think Pink, which arranges mammograms for uninsured, low-income women, gets much of its revenue from Komen.”

While local groups are struggling to make ends meet, the national office has seen a flurry of individuals leave the national office and has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in severance packages for these departing executives, in what could be called an executive “pink parachute.” According to a report by the NonProfit Times, the severance packages at Komen have been alarming. Komen has “paid out almost $400,000 in severance last year to four executives who left the organization, including nearly $270,000 to its former president.”

As I wrote in July, Nancy Brinker, Komen’s founder, has stepped down from her CEO role but is still earning $390,000 as the organization’s chair. According to the Examiner, along with the severance announcements, “it was announced that the salary for new president, Dr. Judith Salerno, is $475,000; approximately 40 percent more than her predecessor, Elizabeth Thompson.”

In places like Lakeland, those high salaries and severance packages might sound foreign to a community effort barely getting by.—John Brothers