Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Komen Affiliate Rebounds After Planned Parenthood Controversy

A Susan G. Komen affiliate in Washington appears to be regaining some of the support it lost after the the national organization attempted to pull funding for Planned Parenthood, a decision that was eventually reversed.

One of the affiliates hit hardest by the controversy was Komen Puget Sound, which opposed the national organization's Planned Parenthood decision. Although they worked hard to distance themselves, Komen Puget Sound missed its fundraising goal by $700,000 during this year's Race for the Cure.

While the Planned Parenthood controversy still lingers, officials at Komen Puget Sound are seeing signs that support is coming back. According to a report in Puget Sound Business Journal, Wednesday's Power of Promise Lunch in Seattle is slated to have 450 participants, up from 360 in 2011. Jim Clune, communications director at Komen Puget Sound, told Business Journal that he is also hearing from supporters that they realize that they weren't connected to the national office's decision, and that they are considering returning their support.

A survey sent to supporters by the Puget Sound affiliate seems to confirm that supporters are coming back. More than 60 percent of donors indicated that they still plan to donate to the nonprofit in the next 12 months, while 23 percent are at least considering donating. About 12 percent of respondents had negative things to say, criticizing the national organization's decisions related to Planned Parenthood.

On February 1, the national Komen office announced new eligibility requirements for grants that prevented organizations that were under federal investigation to receive funding. Planned Parenthood fell under that category, as U.S. Rep. Cliff Sterns (R-Fla.) had initiated an investigation see if the organization was using federal funds for abortions, a claim that Planned Parenthood denies. After a massive public backlash, the decision was reversed two days later, but the damage had already been done.

Key Komen leaders departed the organization, culminating with Nancy Brinker stepping down as CEO, although she still remains as the chair of the board's executive committee. The breast cancer nonprofit has also seen major sponsors step aside, including Churchill Downs, parent company of the Kentucky Derby, which dropped Komen in favor of Stand Up to Cancer. The company claimed at the time that the change was made because they wanted to focus on ways to raise money for cancer research in general, not just breast cancer.

You can read the full story in Puget Sound Business Journal.

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