Susan G. Komen Reversal: The Real Reason the Foundation Backed Down

Susan G. Komen founder Nancy Brinker
Susan G. Komen founder Nancy Brinker
By now you probably know that the Susan G. Komen Foundation has reversed its decision to pull funding from Planned Parenthood. What you don't know is why.

Oh sure, there's the official apology from SGK founder Nancy Brinker and the board of directors. There are the senators who put pressure on the non-profit. And there are all of us social media users who are patting ourselves on the back for making sure the squeaky wheel got the grease. Each of those reasons is valid, but they're not the whole picture.


The real reason Susan G. Komen backed down? Come on, isn't it obvious?

This is really about money.

And not simply the money that all of us put into Planned Parenthood coffers this week instead of into fundraisers for SGK (the entire $680,000 Komen pledge was essentially matched by supporters -- go us). The money that Brinker and her board care most about is the money from corporations.

More from The Stir: Kudos to Susan G. Komen for Defunding Planned Parenthood

To understand Susan G. Komen is to understand where they get their funding. In an interview with Brinker herself during Breast Cancer Awareness Month back in 2010, she revealed that $300 million of the foundation's annual funding comes from grassroots fundraisers. But another $55 million comes from its ties to companies, what she calls "cause-related marketing campaigns" and critics call pinkwashing. One year's worth of monies from those campaigns can fund the community outreach programs that traditional cover the cost of screenings (like those Planned Parenthood helps women access) and education for women six times over.

The de-funding of Planned Parenthood put dozens of those cause-related campaigns in jeopardy. Bands like The Decemberists redirected their Komen fundraising efforts toward helping Planned Parenthood. Companies slowly began backing away. The Republic of Tea announced on Facebook that it was reviewing its Sip for the Cure program, which sent money to the breast cancer foundation. Energizer Battery's Facebook flooded with threats from consumers to boycott the company if they didn't pull support for Komen, and the company responded with a thinly veiled complaint about SGK's decision to change its grants:

As we shared with many of you yesterday, Energizer was unaware that the Komen organization was making a change to their grant policy. Our sole intent has always been to support women in the fight against breast cancer. While we cannot respond uniquely to every comment posted, please know that we are reading them all and appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts with us.

Without funding Planned Parenthood, Susan G. Komen's efforts to pinkwash the world were in serious risk of failure. And if Susan G. Komen cannot pinkwash the world, there is no Susan G. Komen, is there?

Are you returning your support to SGK, or have you lost your faith in the foundation?


Image via cliff1066/Flickr

Read More >