Top Komen Fundraiser Quits

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

Eve Ellis, a major fundraiser for Susan G Komen for the Cure, has raised her last dollar for the charity. Ellis calls for the resignation of CEO and founder Nancy Brinker and the nine member board to be replace. In an angry letter, Ellis condemns the decision to end funding for Planned Parenthood’s breast screening as political and misguided.

The Komen brand may have been tarnished beyond salvation. Pulling funding for breast cancer screening for the poorest, underserved women in our society has turned a once beloved brand into a reviled brand in a mere couple of days.

While donations from the Planned Parenthood haters have helped, they may not be sustainable. Corporate sponsors may be having second thoughts. In a move perhaps unrelated to the Planned Parenthood episode, Pepperidge Farm is concluding “its sponsorship of Susan G. Komen for the Cure at the end of 2011 for business reasons.” General Mills and its Yoplait brand of yogurt “will continue to partner with organizations that will have the greatest impact in that fight.” Not exactly a ringing endorsement.

There are five “Races” coming up in March including the big one in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure has released a statement saying they were strongly opposed to the Planned Parenthood policy. What will be the turnout? Will there be protests?

The Komen brand will be tested in the coming months. Maybe appealing to religious conservatives will turn out to be a winning strategy.

H/T: The Guardian, POLITICO, Jodi Jacobson, The Hill, US News, LA Times, Advertising Age.

54 thoughts on “Top Komen Fundraiser Quits

  1. Excellent topic…. nal..

    It appears that the pulling out or not supporting womens rights is a touchy issue. I agree that the brand maybe tarnished…. but not unrepairable… It will take time…. I am amazed that the top fundraiser Ellis has some moral qualms…. someone that has morals puts principals first…. color me surprised….

    I think the board could go…. but I do not think that Nancy will give up control….

  2. For those who pay attention to charities, Komen has long been something of a problem aside from this latest scandal and its earlier litigation over “for the cure” problems. The foundation’s statements show that it raised huge sums, but the vast majority of substantive spending (meaning not for salaries and expenses) went toward “awareness,” meaning self-promotional activities, with a pittance toward prevention.

    For those who don’t connect the dots, this means they siphon money away from other charities that use funds for preventive causes and toward promotion, including their own self-promotion. Plenty of awareness. Very few mamograms. To the extent it impacts grossly underfunded services like Planned Parenthood, every dime matters.

    For those who never look past names and cute pink ribbons, this is all new and shocking. For those who care where the money actually goes and how it’s put to use, Komen has been a significant disappointment and problem.

  3. Oldest PR strategy in the book. When your brand name is swirling around in the toilet, play the victim card to the hilt.

    When I was a kid and we were misbehaving, my father would say, “I am going to turn around three times and when I do, there is not going to be anybody left in here but me.”

    That is what needs to happen in the front office and board room at Komen. Either that or just shut the place down altogether.

  4. A simple solution to charities that spend their donations on activities other then the stated purpose of the charitiy is: Stop allowing taxpayers from deducting contributions from their tax burdens. A. Tax dollars should go to run a lean efficient government that carries out the will of the people, and B. Eliminating taxpayer funded charities would weed out all but the most beneficial charities.

  5. Charlie,
    I would favor deductibility for charities that meet certain requirements, such as minimal expenses for salaries, publicity, fundraising. Percentages to be determined by guidelines set by current legitimate entities.
    Also, those that discriminate in hiring staff based on violations of civil rights law would be banned regardless of efficiency, including religious outfits.

  6. Brinker is the brand so I don’t think they will get rid of her. They fired Handel so I don’t know if they will attract conservative women. In Dallas it has always been the charity for moderate republican women that have a lot of admiration for the Bush family. I never contributed money to them. I have one pair of running shoes with some pink Komen emblem on them but that’s it.

  7. shg, Some excellent points…

    (It would appear that the “KomenWatch” stopped back in July of 2011. I wonder why…

    Keeping our eyes and ears open…..

    Where’s the Advocacy, Komen?

    by KomenWatch on July 26, 2011)

  8. This has been very educational. This will “cure” a lot of folks from giving money to a fundraising charity whose purpose is to channel the money to other non profits which supposedly work for a cure. Lions and tigers and bears. Before you give: ask not what the charity does for the “Cause”, ask what the charity pays its staff. Someone tell us how much the top dog got paid in salary last year. I heard five million. That cannot be true.

  9. mespo,

    You are sounding cynical….But not surprised…..Can’t have people costing you money unless they work for the government….

  10. The Komen Foundation has been troubled for some time, none the least is suing other groups for using ‘cure’ and the color pink. I’ve helped raise money in the past. No more.

    I’m sickened by their politicized agenda, their apparent mis-use of funds (what % actually goes to funding cancer research or helping underserved women?).

    Tax deductibility should be removed for charities not distributing at least 90% of their funds to their stated goals (eg cancer awareness). I’m a member of a civic group where all time is DONATED and ALL FUNDS go to the purpose of the 501(3)(c). No siphoning off for anything. Period.

  11. “The foundation’s statements show that it raised huge sums, but the vast majority of substantive spending (meaning not for salaries and expenses) went toward “awareness,” meaning self-promotional activities, with a pittance toward prevention.”


    This is an excellent point. I’ve worked for three not-for-profits and also worked as a Director of Contracts and a Director of Budget for a large NYC Agency.
    In the latter capacities I reviewed hundreds of NYC contracts and proposed contracts. In many instances there was a discrepancy for the amount to be spent on publicity and the amount to be spent on actual services provided. Many were highly political entities in that there were familial or political associations to the Mayoral Administration then in power.

    Secondly, the salaries of the not-for-profit workers showed a marked discrepancy between what the upper management received and what the lie workers received. The line workers, almost all dedicated people, were paid less than market value for their services. This contrasted with the well-paid upper management.

    The most problematic to me of these Agencies were those who dispensed money to other entities that provided the actual services. These dispensers were usually high profile entities, using political connections to get City contracts for services and then “farming” the work out to other non-profits. The problem with this was that the City should have dealt directly with the actual service provider, saving money by eliminating the middleman.

    As this Komen issue has developed more and more is coming out about how much actual benefit they’ve provided to the cause other than publicizing it. Breast Cancer awareness is all well and good, but breast cancer screenings and cures are the real issue. By cutting PP’s screening services it would seem that Komen has lost the thread of what its purpose truly is. To me it haws exposed itself by this and other actions as a means to support the Brinker family and secondarily fight breast cancer.

  12. Dog,
    I saw that same article about the head of the Komen organization getting paid $5 Million dollars last year. I am amazed that a so-called non profit company can still keep its tax free status with salaries like that. Despicable. Great article David.

  13. Dog and Raff, I think Brinker’s salary is $500,000. Got that number from Charity Navigator – a pretty reliable source. That site rates charities. Koman gets four stars. Disturbingly, many Planned Parenthood affiliates get only three.
    I don’t think Handel was fired. In this case, it really was a resignation they regretted but it is likely to afford her lots of opportunities in the political arena. She may have lost the gov. race in GA because she wasn’t “pro-life” enough. She doesn’t have that problem anymore. And Fox should love her.

  14. Looks like the link to my post is pushing woo regarding a link between induced abortion and breast cancer. Guess I’ve got a topic for one of tomorrow’s posts.

  15. SwM
    Off topic; my Tucson informant says the board of education has decided to stop free lunches for needy kids. What humiliating process got them that outrageous privilege, the kids. Sarcasm. And did they have to show a needy card when passing the cash register!

    Anyway, it is a social issue in the election year as you noted, and they were Republicans!

  16. re: “Looks like the link to my post is pushing woo regarding a link between induced abortion and breast cancer. Guess I’ve got a topic for one of tomorrow’s posts.”

    I am looking forward to it. Maybe you will follow the truth wherever it leads. Maybe you won’t.

  17. idealist707. We should be talking about drones and banks, but the republicans want to ban contraceptives along with abortions so here we are again in a culture war. This would never happen in Scandinavia. I have been to Denmark but not Sweden.

  18. Swarthmore mom,

    From the Daily Beast, 2/8/12….

    “Then she was derailed by abortion politics. After coming in first in the initial primary, she came under vicious attack from opponent Nathan Deal and from Georgia Right to Life during the runoff. They lambasted her for voting in favor of a grant to Planned Parenthood when she was a county commissioner, for her belief that abortion should be legal in cases of rape and incest, and for her support for IVF. The debate over the last issue got agonizingly personal. Handel had been open about her unsuccessful struggle to have a child. Georgia Right to Life President Dan Becker said he understood that being “barren” was painful to her, “but it should never be attempted to be addressed where a life is taken in the process.”
    Reproductive politics loomed so large that The Atlanta Journal-Constitution began a story on the race by saying, “Contrary to popular belief, Karen Handel and Nathan Deal actually have discussed more than just abortion in their runoff campaign for the GOP nomination for governor.” Handel insisted that she was anti-abortion and anti–Planned Parenthood, but it wasn’t enough. She lost the runoff by 2,519 votes.
    Next time she runs for office, she’ll be in a far better position. On Tuesday afternoon, she was on Fox News denouncing Planned Parenthood’s “vicious attacks and coercion.” For an ambitious Southern Republican, there are few messages more winning.”

    I don’t know if I can find it, but I also heard an interview where she remarked that that attacks on her were ironic given that she has lost her race by being considered insufficiently pro-life.

  19. Swedes once had to go to communist Poland to get their abortions.
    Not now.
    Agree on drones and banks. I can even get rabid on both issues.
    But our chances óf influencing are perhaps greatest with social issues.
    Am so happy that pro-life was defeated in Louisiana (I think it was).

  20. curiouss, I assumed that since she was endorsed by Palin that she was the most right wing. I guess I was wrong.

  21. Swarthmore Mom,

    Your comments prompted me to do more reading. The GA Right to Life endorsed a slew of Rep. candidates – but not Handel. One reason: she supported abortion in some cases depending upon method of conception (I assume that means rape or incest). Now this will really turn your stomach…they attacked Handel as being “barren and desparate”. Seems she has been unable to have children and supports invitro fertilization. GA Right to Life is against invitro. Latest word from head of GA RtoL is much more positive towards Handel.

  22. Mike S: “The most problematic to me of these Agencies were those who dispensed money to other entities that provided the actual services. These dispensers were usually high profile entities, using political connections to get City contracts for services and then “farming” the work out to other non-profits. The problem with this was that the City should have dealt directly with the actual service provider, saving money by eliminating the middleman.”

    That points up a big problem with charities that are ‘pass-through’ agents, the dollar you contribute has some percentage of it skimmed for operating costs at each step. Even if you were dealing with a 15%/85% ratio if you gave the dollar to the primary and they passed it along to one other charity and the money stopped there, 30% of your dollar is gone. Even low expense charities end up having a burdensome expense load (for the giver) if the money gets passed through. I prefer to give directly.

    Did the City take your advice and give directly?

  23. SwM
    Just saw it somewhere in the news that they had been defeated in a vote of some kind. Was it a post here? Anyway, it had to do with a bill proposed in the legislature I believe. At any rate, it was down south and thought such a pro-choice would not be possible there.

  24. In Sweden we have a national charity with great local parent support, in spite of no grants. The investigating journalists on TV showed that the collecting organization, a separate corporation specializing in telephone campaigns, had a rake-off of 85 per cent.
    The charity thought that 15 per cent for them was a good deal. Most of the 15 per cent went to their salaries, etc. And a few flyers.

    It’s so damn dramatic when you see these media naive persons exposed and searching for explanations.

    I’m sure we all have some that we would like to see so embarrassed.

  25. Interesting side note. The coffee house I use … a privately owned, non-franchised business, always put those little straws into the opening of their to-go cups. The straws were decorated with a pink ribbon. This morning when I ordered my coffee, it came without a straw and thinking it had been an oversight, I asked for one.

    “We aren’t using those because we no longer support Komen because of their actions against Planned Parenthood. We have ordered new straws but they aren’t in yet.” I was told.

    How many do you have left? I asked.

    “Oh, several boxes but Jim doesn’t care. We threw them all out.”

  26. “Pink Ribbons, Inc. is a feature-length doc that shows how the devastating reality of breast cancer, which marketing experts have labeled a “dream cause,” has become concealed by a shiny, pink story of success. Each year, countless numbers of people raise millions of dollars in the name of breast cancer, but where does this money go and what does it actually achieve?”

    Premiering at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival.”

  27. LK,
    No they didn’t my advice and when I gave it the Executive. Deputy Commissioner I reported to stopped talking to me. I refused to approve the contract though and two weeks later a similar scandal hit another Agency and the Giuliani. Admin decided to lay low for awhile and follow the rules. From what I understand it’s business as usual under Bloomberg.

  28. Mike, I wish your answer had been otherwise but I’m not really surprised. I have always looked upon the economy as a multi-faceted ‘jewel’.

    There’s the normal retail economy with wageslaves and manufacturers and the classic structure we are all conditioned to starting in grade school.

    Then there’s the off the books economy that we peasants are part of, the street economy where money changes hands and goods and services are exchanged but no one is incorporated and no receipts are provided.

    Then there’s the make-believe economy where strange instruments are conceived and pop into and out of the rarefied big-money universe like strange new, short lived particles and they’re just as unstable.

    Then there’s the pervasive magma of petty corruptions and cronyism that underlies all public endeavors and authorities that all of our public institutions sit upon.

    Then there’s the in-your-face criminal enterprises, the drug economy, counterfit goods, identity theft for profit etc.

    I’ve always thought that our ability to maintain so many economic models at once was really a testament to the magnitude of our wealth and the resilience of our economy. We are drowning in money; what must our country’s real wealth be if the true amount was known? The level of crony-corruption (which to me translates to waste in that its a system that siphons generally public money into a few private hands) was just the cost of doing business, a surtax on the system. That we could have so much of it and it didn’t threaten to bring our economic system down was a hallmark of the strength of our economy. Bakshish and bid-rigging, it makes the world go around and worked pretty well too, until the greed got out of hand.

    Your recommendations threatened to break someone’s rice-bowl, probably a whole tray of them, LOL, “YOU have meddled with the primal forces of nature, Mr. Beale…”

  29. “Mike, I wish your answer had been otherwise but I’m not really surprised.”


    The sad thing was when I became the Director of Contracts, aka ACCO (Agency Chief Contracting Officer)for a large Sub Agency, of one of NYC’s largest Agency’s, I was required to take a two week course (held in the WTC of blessed memory)to become certified as a Professional Public Buyer (PPB). At the end of the course they gave an exam which I had to pass to get the promotion.

    That course taught the ethics of being an ACCO
    and the new NYC contracting law which was one of the best in the country. I found out afterwards that even with these excellent rules in place the Mayor’s minions still tried to work around them, I refused to. That was not nobility on my part, but the refusal to be a patsy for political opportunism, which I knew would blow up in my face. Also I believed those contracting rules ensured
    fairness. My protection was I already had through tests the highest civil service rank attainable in my Agency, so the worst they could do to me was remove me as ACCO, they couldn’t fire me. This is why Civil Service was implemented and why despite numerous attacks it benefits us all.

    Incidentally, that Executive Deputy Commissioner never came through with the big raise he promised me to take the job and I found out afterward he never had any intention to get it for me, even when I was in his good graces. I had no political connections that he perceived would benefit him. When my career took me to the heights of being a well known executive in my Agency and I would tell my wife about it flushed with excitement, she at first would be excited and proud. After awhile, as each new promotion never brought the extra money promised she told me the truth, that I had been in denial about “The longer the title, the lesser the money”. I always had my hopes though and were it not that way perhaps I would have lost my integrity.

  30. Might be some book-cooking going on here, apparently while working full time for the Bush Administration between June 2007 to January 2009.

    “Komen Founder Nancy Brinker’s Mysterious Expense Report
    Feb 13, 2012 4:45 AM EST Nancy Brinker, the powerhouse founder of the embattled Komen Foundation, billed her charity for $133,507 in expenses at a time when she had a full-time job elsewhere. Abigail Pesta and Aram Roston report on how her lavish spending and controversial leadership style alienated some staffers.”

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