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Breach of Trust ~ A Note on the Komen Foundation Snafu

There is more than meets the eye in the recent actions of the Susan G. Komen charity: An iconic organization that has campaigned vigorously to eliminate breast cancer but recently eliminated funding for breast cancer screenings! To a sister organization, whose mission is all about the empowerment of women! Go figure the logic of that!

So where is the sisterhood?

Then, there’s the apology and the reversal of the decision: the return of funding to Planned Parenthood.

Sorry! But – as in the worlds of politics, faith, and sports, where, periodically, bigots and self-righteous hypocrites recant their slips of foul tongue – you can apologize, but what you said or did in the first place is what you really meant.

What is really meant in this moment of public truth is that the interests of women and their health have been and continue to be subordinated to the rule of politics. Sadly for women, the dirty linen beneath the Komen skirt is a political and marketing agenda that runs afoul of a woman’s well-being.

In its 30 years of operation, with $2 billion under its fundraising belt, a half million dollar salary for its CEO, and an anti-choice right wing activist on its senior management team (now removed!),  Komen has become an international monolith in the race for the cure of breast cancer.

But with all this heft, it’s remarkable that we’re no closer to the elusive cure. It makes you wonder if the race is all about the cure or about maximizing market share.

The problem here lies in what happens when charitable intent leads to the development of a major marketing machine ~ when the interests of positioning and organizational self-preservation trump those of the client; when nonprofit monoliths monopolize the market and deprive other legitimate organizations and ideas to contest for the philanthropic dollar; and when political agendas get in the way.

The bottom line is that the issues related to women’s health should rise above politics. Our mothers and sisters and daughters deserve better.

When nonprofits obscure their mission with political motivations or serve as fronts for hidden agendas, they defy their profound duty of stewardship, they injure the public trust, and they disrespect their stakeholders.

Better to lift the veil before you kiss the bride…it is a good thing in the world of charities and caring to look for accountability, authenticity, and measurable results.

Maybe then, for all of us – donors and patients – it’s good that the rouge has been taken off the Pink. Transparency never hurts!

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