Sour on Susan G. Komen

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Editorial note: In the five years since this blog was posted the Susan B Komen organization cleaned up their act ans is a stronger performer today. Charity Navigator gives the organization respectable ratings based now on its 2016 financial data. Most media coverage has been favorable since the events mentioned in my 2011 blog post but their is still room for improvement.

Before anyone asks, I’m announcing that I won’t support any Susan G. Komen events this spring. It’s not that I don’t support your effort but rather because I conclude that the sponsoring organization has drifted to “the dark side” and I wish to take a social stance with my vocal non-support. Don’t take it personally, I’ve gone sour on other prominent nonprofits when their lack of appropriate leadership has allowed the pursuit of power and organizational survival surpass their original mission. So go ahead, get out there – hike, bike, camp, and enjoy – but be aware that all is not pretty pink beneath the $1.5 billion fundraising organization. After you get done with your event, please take a little time over the next year to follow Susan G. Komen in the news and ask yourself whether the positions that the organization takes reflect your personal values and beliefs on how a nonprofit should be run.

For purpose of highlighting the contrast, take a look at the American Heart Association’s http://www.goredforwomen.org/ Web site that sponsors similar fund-raising events for women’s health issues but has a stronger nonprofit corporate governance team that leads to better net operating results for public stakeholders. If you know how to read financial statements, compare those of Susan G. Komen with those of the American Heart Association. A good fundraising organization should be able to turn over most of the cash it brings in to help the cause, for example, research and treatment of breast cancer. Susan G. Komen barely managed to give away 40% last year ($156 million grants out of $389 million cash raised). You may conclude, as I have, that Susan G. Komen is run more like a for-profit company for the benefit of its stockholders and management than a nonprofit like American heart Association. It doesn’t make them a bad organization, just not good enough to earn my money or support.

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