Komen Store,” Donald Wakefield

October 2, 2019; Chestnut Hill Local

2019 will be the last year for Susan G. Komen’s annual 3-day breast cancer walk in Philadelphia. Trying to figure out why by listening to the organization—in this case, Susan G. Komen Philadelphia CEO Elaine Grobma—is pretty unsatisfying…

The 3-Day walk will be celebrating its last year here in Philadelphia, why is that?
“I think that this will be an opportunity for change that they are offering survivors to see other cities and have different experiences. The 3-day walk brought millions of dollars to the Delaware Valley. It was a wonderful opportunity for the Delaware Valley.”

…but if you know that many local Komen events have already gone under, one could probably discern that the problem lies in making the numbers work.

As we head into breast cancer awareness month, we take another look at the financial state of Susan G. Komen, which started a revenue slide in 2012 when it created a fissure between itself and a good portion of its active fundraising constituency by announcing it would no longer fund Planned Parenthood. Though they eventually reversed the decision, they appeared to have little organizational humility or insight related to the situation. Not only was the financial effect immediate, but, as we examine the situation even seven years out, the decline continues apace.

Komen booked $270 million in its fiscal year ending March 31, 2013, compared to $348 million the year prior and $367 million in FY 2011. This constitutes a decline of $97 million, or 26.4 percent of income, in two years. The drop was most precipitous in the area of unrestricted “contributions, sponsorships and entry fees,” adding up to a full $100 million. But when we fast forward into the organization’s 2018 Form 990, we see the slide continued, with revenue hitting successive record lows from 2015 to 2018, when it brought in only approximately $82 million—a fraction of what it brought in in 2011, before the scandal.

Add to that the fact that the organization has run deficits through most of these years of between $7 million and $10 million, and you begin to get the full picture. But the organization may have begun to adjust to its new reality; Komen’s most recent 990 shows the organization managed to reduce the size of its deficit in 2018 to $3 million. —Ruth McCambridge