Susan G. Komen’s attack on Planned Parenthood cost Komen $77m, 22% of its income

Through much of 2012 we wrote about the Susan G. Komen Foundation and its political role in advancing a right-wing cause — killing funding for Planned Parenthood.

For background, check these:

What will progressives do about apparent right-wing “fog shops” like Komen?

“Welcome to Cancerland” — or What does Komen do with all that money?

Komen CEO Nancy Brinker’s life among the 0.1 percent

ThinkProgress: Ari Fleisher was secretly involved in Komen’s anti-Planned Parenthood strategy

Former Komen board member wants Brinker to quit

And for your edification and amusement (or earnest use):

Komen’s corporate sponsors (a list)

As you may know, Komen “owns” (literally) the iconic “Race for the Cure”, a series of branded (in the corporate sense) anti-breast cancer races. Komen pretends to be non-political, but at heart, they’re loyal-Bushie to the core, and their dabbling in anti-abortion politics proved it. Also, people noticed. Bad for Komen, but how bad?

Turns out there’s a price for messing up like this, for showing your anti-women teeth while pretending to be genteel-liberal to all the urban Democrats. There’s a price, and we now have the number. The excellent Michael Hiltzik at the LA Times has the story (my emphasis):

The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation committed one of the great PR faux pas of the decade in January 2012, when it summarily cut off funding to Planned Parenthood in what appeared to be a bow to anti-abortion crusaders.

Now, with its release of its latest financial statements, the cost of that decision can be measured: It’s more than $77 million, or fully 22% of the foundation’s income. That’s how much less the Dallas-based foundation collected in contributions, sponsorships and entry fees for its sponsored races in the fiscal year ended March 31, 2013, compared with the previous year. The raw figures are these: In the most recent fiscal year Komen booked $270 million; the year before that, Komen booked $348 million.

Last year’s decline was a continuation of a slightly longer trend. In fiscal 2011 the organization collected $367 million. Komen officials are candid in attributing much of last year’s sharp decline to the Planned Parenthood controversy, though they also point to the general economic slump. Participation in the group’s signature Race for the Cure events is also down.

As Hiltzik noted later in the article, the self-outing political move (my phrase) “was a huge blunder” (his phrase). Indeed it was, if money is your measurable. I’m almost certain money is one of theirs.

Glad to see there’s justice in the world.


To follow or send links: @Gaius_Publius

Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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60 Responses to “Susan G. Komen’s attack on Planned Parenthood cost Komen $77m, 22% of its income”

  1. Ted says:

    Ironic that those who are all behind the Billions of tax free endowment capital spent on the myriad of Progressive demagoguery would have something to say about a Charity that has actual evidence of the relationship of Abortion to Breast Cancer. God forbid that someone out to do something about Cancer should go against the grain of the dysfunctional rainbow that spent more than their fair share of Capital to attack the Boy Scouts of America.

  2. Naja pallida says:

    You mean like the two years when she was working full time for the State Department, but still billed her charity over $130k for unspecified “expenses”, that they still refuse to comment on? And the chief executive before her was also making in the range of $275k per year, plus expenses. If a charity wants my money, they’re going to have to come up with a good reason to justify that kind of compensation, and I haven’t see it from any of the large corporatized charitable organizations yet. The “comparable charities compensate their executives the same!” excuse just doesn’t fly with me. Doing a lot of good is not a justification for skimming off the top to maintain a permanent residence at the Ritz-Carleton.

  3. Strepsi says:

    The watch word to look for in a mission statement is “raise awareness” — which is not the same as “actually do something”

  4. Strepsi says:

    Can you imagine if Sports leagues and Churches actually paid tax? It would wipe out the entire debt in a year.

  5. EdA says:

    You are, of course, correct that not all non-profits are “charities,” and I had indicated that what was covered were 501(c)(3) organizations, for which contributions are tax deductible as charitable contributions.

    In fairness, I should mention that the PGA, the NFL, and the NHL claim non-profit status as “business leagues.”

  6. Naja pallida says:

    In Charity Navigator’s own advice area, they suggest looking at executive compensation and making sure the organization is transparent in its activities before donating. Apparently they don’t really take their own advice too seriously before giving their ratings. They should have lost at least a full star for how poorly they handled this whole scandal.

  7. Naja pallida says:

    Not all non-profits are charities. There’s at least a dozen different classifications of 501 organizations, most of which are not charitable organizations.

  8. EddieFRANK says:

    Interesting. Susan G. Komen is rated 4 stars. The highest rating they give. Just find it interesting that everyone attacks Komen here yet when you dig for the facts they are one of the best rated charities listed Charity Navigator for finical performance.

  9. EdA says:

    To find out how much money a “charity” (501(c)(3)) organization actually spends to do good deeds and how much it spends to pay officers, pay for fund-raising, etc., please go to , which rates charities and also maintains records of IRS 990 tax return forms (except for churches, which are allowed to scam to their hearts’ content without any public disclosure).

    Incidentally, both the NFL and the PGA are non-profit “charities.”

  10. Anonymous says:

    That’s what lingers with me as well – the manipulation of making money using the suffering of the sick and poor. People are actually led to believe that this is an organization with integrity, that donations go directly to those in need. They make their money in the most underhanded way…it’s borderline fraud.

  11. pigboy says:

    Komen race for the bucks

  12. The_Fixer says:

    How does it feel to have your comment flagged?

  13. SkippyFlipjack says:

    Your brain multiplied her salary by a thousand :)

  14. Anonymous says:

    They label themselves “makers” and others “takers.” The usual God complex of a CEO that doesn’t have a superior to answer to, leading to an imbalance of power.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Ashton, Mike, and April are a neat family of trolls. Wonder if we will see more relatives pop in.

  16. sane37 says:

    It was a title, not a skill.

  17. SkippyFlipjack says:

    Ps: “Mike”, why do you bother to keep changing your name? Settle on one, stay a while.

  18. SkippyFlipjack says:

    Universities aren’t charities and their fundraisers didn’t found them, they’re hired hands. Hey, I support her right to grab all the money she can clutch in her greedy hands that started out rich and have gotten richer thanks to her sister’s death. I wouldn’t choose the same path, but that’s just me.

  19. sane37 says:

    In this case its not a good thing because the majority of the donations do not support the cause they were given to – breast cancer research.

  20. SkippyFlipjack says:

    $670k is a nice raise. What happened, she needed a third guest house? (btw it was four years. Time flies, huh?)

  21. Mike says:

    In America people get paid for doing work, even non-profit work. Fundraisers at PUBLIC Universities get paid salaries of 6 figures and up for hitting fundraising targets. Why is that a bad thing?

  22. Tom says:

    Brinker took NO salary for over 30 years while working full time at Komen. It was only for the past two years while she was interim CEO that she was paid.

  23. SkippyFlipjack says:

    Good for her.

    I wonder how much she skimmed off the top.

  24. Anonymous says:

    A “charity” that spends millions on advertising and branding is suspicious.

  25. SkippyFlipjack says:

    True, and she deserves all the credit in the world for that. She just doesn’t deserve $670,000 per year for running a charity she started as a promise to her dying sister to find a cure, money that comes from donations that people think are going to breast cancer research. I’m sure Brinker sleeps find but I’d be physically sick if I so enriched myself in my sister’s name.

  26. April says:

    The economy was what was thriving in early 2000. There would be no Susan G. Komen without Brinker. She started it.

  27. Ashton says:

    Komen founder Nancy Brinker’s son Eric Brinker is a known faggot/queer. Nancy Brinker also raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the faggot/queer group Lambda Legel in her support for “marriage equality.” She is really a bad person.

  28. Monoceros Forth says:

    Eeyup. We’ve all seen too many examples of this: once you make a certain amount of money you never really experience failure ever again even if you are a complete loser. There’ll always be someone there to bail you out. I mean, look at Donald Trump. How many times has run businesses into the ground? But because he’s made himself into a celebrity he’ll never need to suffer the consequences of his numerous failures.

  29. eahopp says:

    Right-wing fascists have this love affair of the government should provide welfare to only the 1 percent, while those who are really suffering can go to charities for help. It is a rather screwed-up mindset, but I doubt that the right-wing fascists could care less–they’ve got theirs, and the rest can “EF OFF!”

  30. Naja pallida says:

    Especially when you consider that charitable giving was down across the board after the economic collapse of 2008, yet, executive compensation has steadily gone up. Whenever they decide they need to make cuts, it is always to the cause, not to the overhead of maintaining the bloated lifestyles of the board members.

  31. Blogvader says:


    [email protected]#$ them.

  32. Anonymous says:

    That’s why the wealth inequality is rising…if you’re at the top, you essentially decide how much you earn.

  33. Rachel McAuley says:


    ❉❉❉❉ ❉❉❉❉❉ ❉⿗❉❉❉ ❉❉❉❉❉⾑❉Participation in the group’s signature Race for the Cure events is also down.

  34. Monoceros Forth says:

    I suppose, if you questioned why the executives of some supposedly charitable association about why they were skimming such a large chunk of the donations in the form of comfortably fat salaries, you’d get some version of the same excuse given when big corporate executives are questioned about why they deserve enormous bonuses even while the corporations in their charge are haemorrhaging money. You’ll get excuses about how in times of trouble you need to keep the “best and brightest” and pay them lots of money because who else is going to turn things around? I imagine that overpaid executives of charitable organizations justify their comfy salaries in much the same fashion–claiming that they and only they have the necessary skills and connections to schmooze with heavy-duty potential donors and wangle some cash out of them, so it’s well worth the money to keep them happy.

  35. Monoceros Forth says:

    They may not be entirely accurate but they’re better than nothing.

    I’ve never liked the Komen style of charity, anyway. One of the most insidious trends has been disguising consumerism as charity and the Komen Foundation is all about that.

  36. silas1898 says:

    1.5% of the take.

  37. Anonymous says:

    This is disgusting, and I really hope all charities with political/profit goals are named and shamed. There need to be massive smear campaigns against these soulless corporations. The Salvation Army is another example. You can find lists of the “charities” that took in the biggest profits. Sadly, it’s hard to tel whether those lists are accurate.

  38. Anonymous says:

    Nothing checks the massive ego of a 1%er like another 1%er.

  39. BeccaM says:

    Sadly though, Komen’s income is still comfortably in the nine digits — $273 million / year if my brain can still do the math correctly. That is one hell of a lot of scratch, and as prior posts here have noted, nearly all of it goes toward bloated salaries, marketing, and legal fees to sue anybody who uses the color pink or ‘Race for the ‘X” in anything whatsoever.

    One thing these reports have done was to make me aware of those collection boxes in so very many places of business, especially at cash registers.

  40. Naja pallida says:

    I agree. I cannot fathom someone with the temerity to make millions of dollars off their sibling’s death to a horrible disease. Much less doing so under the guise of a charity, embezzling from donations people are expecting to go to the actual cause, and not to maintain someone’s lavish lifestyle.

  41. Steven Jaeger says:

    Where are the Koch brothers in all this? The whole PP debacle smells like their work.I would have thought they would ante up for this harshly right wing collection of bitter people masquerading as a “good thing” to keep the numbers up or even better to prove that SGK was on the right track with dropping PP. We had supported SGK through donating to friends doing one of the walks. We also switched to PP direct donations and have avoided buying any consumer products (Yoplait) cobranded with the SGK label.

  42. SkippyFlipjack says:

    A member of my family is 5 years out from breast cancer diagnosis and if they’d died of the disease and I started a foundation in their name I would not be able to sleep at night if I were taking six figures, let alone half a million, to head the organization. Reprehensible. In the early 2000’s the organization thrived while Brinker was serving as Ambassador, while under her guidance they lost control of what was an absolutely spotless and powerful brand. If anything they should pay her six figures to stay far away from them.

  43. Naja pallida says:

    They funded about 4 million dollars worth of grants in 2013 to study the potential environmental factors in breast cancer, including radiation exposure during health screenings, pollution, synthetic chemicals, and other toxins. You can see a list of all their research projects and grants on their web site.

  44. HeartlandLiberal says:

    How much is 22%??

    Not enough!!

  45. Naja pallida says:

    She took a giant pay raise for the three years prior. I’m sure she’s still pretty comfortable. They made a huge mistake by not throwing her out on her ear, and they will continue to suffer for it.

  46. Naja pallida says:

    You’re not alone. They’ve had to cancel many walks, because lots of other people feel the same anger with them.

  47. Tor says:

    My sister in law, who has survived three bouts of breast cancer, is completely against Komen. She says they are all about making money, not about helping the sick.

  48. Quilla says:

    Please correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t the Komen group deny – or, at least, fail to consider – the environmental/pollution causes of breast cancer?

  49. SkippyFlipjack says:

    Thanks for the info GP, good stuff. I was wondering if Brinker took a pay cut from her $670k salary as a result of the money she cost her company, and it turns out she actually did — she took a big cut when she lost her job as CEO, now she earns a paltry $390k (which I think qualifies her for Obamacare subsidies) as the “chairwoman of global strategy”, an odd responsibility for someone who just globally f*cked her company.

  50. mamazboy says:

    Breast Cancer Action is a much better option than the dreadful Komen corporation, in every respect. No pink pistols either.

  51. AJayne says:

    We need to keep that controversy (and the SGK background that led to it) alive until SGK no longer exists.

  52. clarknt67 says:

    Yeah, I doubt Komen will ever get the stink off the brand among many, many people.

  53. Jim Olson says:

    I had the misfortune to meet Ms. Brinker in person once. She is, and surely believes herself to be a member of the 0.1%. It was my responsibility to make sure that she was briefed and in the right place to deliver a speech at a large east-coast University. (The appropriateness of her as a choice by the University was suspect at best…). She was the most arrogant, dismissive, rude, unpleasant, haughty woman I have ever met. She offended my staff. She offended me. She was rude to the Dean. How this woman was ever an Ambassador, I will never know.

  54. clarknt67 says:

    I am among the many who donated to Planned Parenthood after their attack, however. They saw quite a uptick, thanks Komen!

  55. bkmn says:

    And the women that were in charge and brought all this to happen, one is in an elected office in GA, the other Ms. Brinker merely made a lateral move within Komen to make it appear she was no longer in control (but kept most of her paycheck for a demotion).

    Pathetic bullies is what they are.

  56. caphillprof says:

    It doesn’t help being exposed as right-wing fascists either.

  57. PeteWa says:

    Komen is a scam, really a shame that anyone trusts them.

  58. KevinCW says:

    I was never a financial contributor to women’s reproductive rights before in my lifetime, but that incident alone made be a big monthly contributor to Planned Parenthood, the proudest commitment I think I’ve ever made. I chased down the first fundraiser for them in Boston that I could find and signed up on the spot. And I will never, NEVER contribute to Susan Komen. I get an angry feeling in my gut every time I see their walks mentioned, and I doubt that feeling will go away.

  59. eahopp says:

    Last year’s decline was a continuation of a slightly longer trend…Komen officials are candid in attributing much of last year’s sharp decline to the Planned Parenthood controversy, though they also point to the general economic slump. When Americans are suffering in an economic depression, you are not going to be thinking about giving a little extra money to charities. You will be worrying about how you’re going to survive with placing food on the table, or keeping the roof over your head.

  60. Monoceros Forth says:

    Wait…so all of the Komen Foundation’s new fundie friends it was trying to court with its vindictive little gesture didn’t reward the Foundation by showering it with donations? Darn.

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