Today, I was saddened to publish a newswire about the fact that Susan G. Komen for the Cure defunded Planned Parenthood for their breast cancer screenings. This—the defunding—is not what stands out for me, though it will be the flashpoint. What stands out is Komen’s hiring of a vice president of public policy that was an outspoken partisan political figure with a clear anti-choice agenda—some of which was focused specifically on Planned Parenthood.
This, it seems to me, was the decision point for Komen.
What is a bit confounding is the profound risk that Komen appears to be taking on behalf of those who are supposed to benefit from the organization. Clearly, polls show that many Americans who might support the work of Komen would not support an anti-choice agenda, and as we have seen from the comments on our website and elsewhere, many individuals are now considering their own defunding—of Komen. In my mind, this cannot help but erode the base of support Komen has built up over many years.
We would love to know what the conversation was among the stewards of this organization as they made this decision. It seems too obvious a public relations disaster for them not to have known what they were doing.
Is Komen’s brand irrevocably compromised? And why would Komen take the risk? Here is one wise comment on our Web site from Judy Chen:
Mega-nonprofits sometimes act as holding stations for Republican (or for that matter, Democrat) political figures in between runs for office. They can seem like great catches at the time (‘hey, we just got tons of political insider support! Plus someone corporate!’), but don’t tend to turn out well for the org, internally or externally (see: Elizabeth Dole, American Red Cross). Yes, I agree, Komen just destroyed its brand.
We’d love your comments and discussion on this and on some of the tactics used by legislators to edge Planned Parenthood out of federal funding. What do we in the sector have to think about and take action on relative to these kinds of situations?