Saturday, February 04, 2012

Susan G. Komen's Foundation's Self-Inflicted Wounds

In what will probably go down as one of the worst public relations disasters for a non-profit organization, the Susan G. Komen Foundation gave in to anti-gay Christianists and dropped its funding to Planned Parenthood even though only 4% of Planned Parenthood's operations involve abortion services. The public reaction was swift and furious and the Komen leadership crowd found itself under attack and, worse yet, received countless messages from past contributors that they'd be directing their donations elsewhere. In an effort to stop the self-inflicted damage, the Komen Foundation has reversed course and restored Planned Parenthood's eligibility for funding for breast cancer testing services. The long term question is whether or not outraged donors will forgive the organization for it's pandering to religious extremists and their political whores in the Republican Party. An article in The Daily Beast has this telling statement:

Much of the controversy dates back to Komen’s decision to hire Karen Handel, an outspoken anti-abortion politician who vowed to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood during her unsuccessful gubernatorial run in Georgia. Komen officials denied that Handel, who was hired as the organization’s vice president of public policy in April 2011, had a hand in the decision. But many observers couldn’t help but make the connection.

Personally, I will never donate again until the Komen board is completely purged of those who gave in to the Christianists. The Washington Post looks at this case study in why giving in to the far right - which despite the volume of its anger, does not represent mainstream America - is not wise move for charitable organizations or businesses. Here are highlights:

Caught in a maelstrom of public reaction to its decision to cease funding Planned Parenthood, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation announced Friday that it would reverse course.

“We want to apologize to the American public for recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women’s lives,” the Komen foundation announced in a statement Friday morning.

But officials across the organization said they were still reeling from the fallout of what many described as a public relations fiasco created by Komen’s leadership. “I felt like we were eaten alive,” said Logan Hood, executive director of Komen’s Aspen affiliate in Colorado. “We had no advance warning.. . . We were sent into battle without armor.”

Still unclear is the long-term impact on a charity long regarded as unassailably apolitical.

“Honestly, we have been turned into a political association without any political skills,” said Laura Farmer Sherman, executive director of the San Diego Komen affiliate. “There was not a crisis-management plan. I think they were completely caught off guard.”

The affiliate has already lost $50,000 in corporate sponsorship for a Race for the Cure in the fall.
Farmer Sherman said she has scheduled meetings Saturday to try to make amends with supporters. “There are some relationships that are, perhaps, irrevocably damaged,” she said.

Hogan and Farmer Sherman were among a slew of Komen regional officials who had publicly criticized the national group this week. E-mails flew between affiliates Wednesday and Thursday, with multiple Komen chapters sending letters to the Dallas headquarters opposing the defunding policy.

Meanwhile, several Planned Parenthood affiliates said they had been deluged with offers of financial support. When Gina Popovic, a vice president at Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and Northern Idaho, arrived at her office Thursday, she found multiple donors waiting for her, checks in hand. . . . . The national group said it has received a total of $3 million from more than 10,000 donors since Tuesday.

Abortion opponents expressed dismay at Friday’s announcement. . . . . Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life, the anti­abortion group that pushed for the congressional investigation of Planned Parenthood, said the “clear intent” of the Komen foundation’s latest move is “them trying to get out of the box that Planned Parenthood has put them in. . . . I see this as a large organization trying to bring closure to end this.”

1 comment:

ArmyVegan said...

I was wondering what all the fuss was with this. Thanks for making it clear.