A Stink About Pink: Better Alternatives Than Giving to Right-Leaning Komen

Categories: Schutze

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Some good may come out of the Komen Foundation's hard right turn on abortion this week. It was about time, anyway, for a fundamental re-examination of Komen by people committed to the cause of cancer research.

You'll find a good summary of reasons to be worried about giving to Komen, even before this week's right-to-life train wreck, in a piece published last October in the Sacramento Bee. The Bee story reported that Komen has been giving less and less of its ample largesse to research in recent years anyway, spending more of it on self-promotion and merchandising. Komen has a frankly terrible rate of support for research compared with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. The paper's main source was a book called Pink Ribbon Blues: How Breast Cancer Culture Undermines Women's Health by medical sociologist Gayle A. Sulik, published in 2010 by Oxford University Press.

The book reported that between 2004 and 2010 Komen's contributions to cancer research fell from 23 to 16 percent of all the money it raises. The Bee story quotes Komen officials as rebutting those numbers, claiming instead that their contribution to research in that same period fell from 29 to 21 percent.

But here's the most interesting number. The rate of contribution to research by the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, according to the Bee, is 88 percent.

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Forget about this week's travesty, in which Komen stopped funding breast exams at Planned Parenthood clinics to curry favor instead with right-wing abortion foes. If your primary motivation in giving money is to aid breast cancer research, should you be sending your checks to Komen anyway?

And maybe even that is not the right place to stop asking questions. The Bee story raises a number of other provocative questions about Komen -- Does it make money selling carcinogenic perfume? -- and the story also brings up deeper issues in breast cancer research generally. Is the whole field of fundraising for breast research a distortion fueled by the subliminal fact that people are more favorably disposed toward breasts than other parts of the body?

OK, listen: At some point in too many years of columnizing, I've come out against just about everything else, but I draw the line here. I am not coming out against breasts. I think it's perfectly OK for people to have breasts. You're fine. As you were, and carry on.

But it's probably fair to suggest, also, that a really high-minded approach to cancer research for those of us who know pretty much nothing about it might be turn our money over instead to scientists and researchers without any particular anatomical strings attached. We could let them decide where to put it. Just thinking out loud here.

In the meantime, I hope we will be seeing a lot more of Sulik on the morning talkies over the next few weeks. The healthy outcome in this, for people who do care about research but are angry at Komen, is not to give up giving. It's to find another place or way to give.

And, by the way, do you think all the people taking part in those pink ribbon runs for Komen knew that a fifth or less of the money they raised was going to cancer research? I've just been doing some quick figuring on Google maps. To run a full mile down Oak Lawn Avenue from my office at the corner of Maple and Oak Lawn, I would have to run past Lemmon all the way to Gilbert and Blackburn, which is getting me way too close to the Park Cities anyway. If I go that close, I tend to get headaches from the cubic zirconia glare.

But if I'm running strictly for the benefit of cancer research, at the Komen rate I should be justified in doing 21 percent of a mile or 1,108.8 feet, which would take me down just about exactly to the neighborhood Starbucks, where I could pat myself on the back with a double cappuccino whole milk please.

Choices, people. It's all about choices.


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48 comments
Dave Reed
Dave Reed

Thank you for this one Jim....had no idea how far off the road Komen had run.

leftocenter
leftocenter

Breasts!  Yes you hit the nipple on the head Shutz-eee!  Of all cancers, it is most sympathetic.  It's human nature, but the truth is that cancer research across the board needs financial support.  Breast is at the opposite end sympathy-wise from lung cancer, where there's is an attitude (equally unspoken) that the victim had it coming.  You're a brave man!

Albert
Albert

BTW. the President of Planned Parenthood pulls down $440K/year.

Double your contributions or she might have to take a reduction in pay.

Albert
Albert

Komen made a choice, and supporters of the nation's largest abortion mill have come to the rescue, all is well.

PP made more money off the Choice than they would have were the Choice made differently.

The market works, don't worry, be happy, and send them more of your money to show how mad you are at the evil right wing, and the Choices they make.

Susan G Palin
Susan G Palin

So the "Race for the Cure" is now the "Race for the Pure"? -Meh.

Jimmi Shrode
Jimmi Shrode

If Susan G. Komen is not in the business to eliminate Breast Cancer and Prevent it; then let it do so,  It has no right to dictate stances on Abortion.

patters85
patters85

I was starting to think that SGK was becoming a bit too commercial in it's dealings anyway.

Ewalley1
Ewalley1

Far more lives lost to other forms of cancer - lung and colon for example. Their organizations, sadly, have not been as effective at fund raising as Komen. Maybe some of the funds that would have gone to Komen can now be freed up to help some of the other even more urgent causes. And the publicity will help Planned Parenthood in its fund raising for all the other wonderful and terribly needed services it provides - birth control, blood pressure and diabetes screening, STD screening and treatment, and counseling. Since the right wingers have been so successful at cutting off government funds for these other worthy causes to enhance their political power, we have to step forward and do it now with contributions.

Bettyculbreath
Bettyculbreath

Having applied for Komen grant before the application says what money must be used for,what is point of keeping money from PP, they only do Breast exam with money.The worst thing about this Right wing movement is they do not care who gets hurt in their process. komen money has nothing to do with abortion over at Planned Parenthood. They will risk lives to be correct, what type of God do they serve?

pak152
pak152

good column. everyone should be investigating how the money they donate is actually being used.normally I rely on this website http://www.charitynavigator.or...but now I may have to ask them some questions

pleasedon'tshockmymonkey
pleasedon'tshockmymonkey

Why can't the poor folks just set up their own non-profit, profit off of it like the Komen foundation did, and then they wouldn't be poor anymore??? Sounds like a no-Bainer, to me!

                                            Sincerely,                                            Mitt Romney

Alfredo
Alfredo

The funding of Planned Parenthood is not for research, what rather for services.  What percent of the  SGK budget goes to fund services?

Uppercase Matt
Uppercase Matt

So, Jim, dumping Planned Parenthood is a good step in the right direction for Komen, so that less money is directed to something other than direct research? 

quellepotat
quellepotat

As  a long time observer of the SGK apparatchik, I have wondered where all of that organization's money (collected from the well intentioned but perhaps naive public) goes.  Has anyone actually seen any documentation of funds distributed for individual assistance, research or scientific investment from this group? --Or benchmarks of progress from the recipients? Yearly, naive but sincere folks are urged to "race for the cure" or wear  pink  "for the cure" (which has provoked cynical laughter form some members of the scientific and medical community), because there is so much "fluff" and so little substance. Is this just a cash cow for the founder and her cronys? I don't think that this is a " Right Wing" problem as much as a problem of intrinsic phoniness. I hesitate to mention it, but perhaps the decision to sever ties to organizations under investigation indicates that the organization severing the ties could not withstand one.

Guest
Guest

Wait. I'm a guy, so I may not be allowed to understand abortion, breast cancer,  and other feminine public issues and all but I do understand basic business. Is PPD totally reliant on Komen? Don't they have other sources of funding? Why can't Komen choose to give or not give money to PPD for whatever reason? Is there some kind of contract that Komen is trying to get out of by "passing new rules" or is PPD just crying because Komen is taking them off their, umm... t!t? . I don't understand why Komen, who after all theses years of loyally giving tons of money to a controversial organization, is now being painted as the bad guy in this. It seems to me the people at PPD should be accessing other sources of funding. Which is probably what all this hub-ub is about. PPD is just trying to scare up some sympathy money.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

Maybe ive had my head in the ground, im not sure how to feel.  I always assumed that non profit and charities has some expenses that donations went to, but to find that less than a quarter of donations actually go to research through Komen is sad at best and criminal at its worst.  I guess it high time I pull the financials of any non profit before deciding to throw some money their way.  I dont have a lot myself, and I may not be a big donor but i feel dirty now, like Ive been robbed of the feelgood I get when giving to them

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

Komen has pretty much moved away from its original mission and has become some sort of mutated beast. When you try to tie your pink ribbon campaign to KFC and other products that have cancer-causing agents tied to them, that's when you lost my donation...

NONE
NONE

IT'S A WOMAN DEAL!  MEN DON'T GET PREGNANT AND RARELY GET BREAST CANCER (BARNEY FRANK AT RISK!)

Realtime
Realtime

According to the organization's 990 filing the Ambassador is paid over $400,000 a year.

Brenda Marks
Brenda Marks

Just another confirmation that Nancy Brinker's juggernaut has bit the shark. 

MissTigraTX
MissTigraTX

Schutze, Every once in awhile I am SO glad I read your column.  Most of the time I shake my head while reading but this time I want to stand up and clap. Thank you for pointing this out!

Most individuals who work in non-profit KNOW this but have to politiely grin because they don't want to sling any mud to their non-profit "sisters" at SGK. 

Yes, it is about choices.  I hope many people choose to donate their time and talent with other non-profits who ACTUALLY fund research and education.

claytonauger
claytonauger

Interesting. No wonder they have no interest in talking about the environmental causes of breast cancer.

The Credible Hulk
The Credible Hulk

I'd agree that that is a pretty high salary. However, unlike Brinker, the president of PP actually does some good for people.

The Credible Hulk
The Credible Hulk

PP probably *will* make more off of this kerfuffle than they ever could have trying to beg nickles off of Komen. Even after the backpeddaling Komen & Brinker are doing at the moment.

Isn't that great, Albert?

Of all of the laws of the universe, my favorite law of all is "The Law of Unintended Consequences."

DoubleOJoe
DoubleOJoe

Because no one wants to wear a brown ribbon.  It's just not fashionable.

Too Soon
Too Soon

Get Your Rear In Gear is a good charity that raises funds for screenings and builds community support in the fight against colon cancer (a monster that my beloved stepmother has been battling for a decade; it may finally take her from us this year). They've got a fundraising event in Fort Worth on Saturday, June 23. Registration isn't up yet, but book mark it, like it on Facebook, sign up, raise money, and come to Fort Worth on a hot summer morning to be a part of something. I'll be there. Join me.http://www.getyourrearingear.c... 

catbird
catbird

oh, my. this is completely unnecessary and in accurate....oh, my.

scottindallas
scottindallas

the god they support would never hang out with poor, wretched sinners.  No, they believe in the god of guilt by association. 

gladnotsad
gladnotsad

Does anyone know why the" wealthy self-made  man behind the woman" and her "charitable" endeavors --Mr. Brinker--divorced her in the last years of his final illness?  I always thought that the circumstances were odd unless he wanted to avoid a scandal or future train wreck  potentially tarnishing his legacy.

Paul
Paul

but that is a different rule violation ....

Pamela Irwin
Pamela Irwin

Guest - It's like this - Komen has gone to great lengths to paint themselves as Pro-Women & all of us who have given to them & supported them for years have done so with the understanding that they were what they claimed. But they have now become Anti-women - an organization can't be for women & then turn around & start trying to take women's choices away & make them subservient. Planned Parenthood is one of the greatest assets women of all colors, incomes, & religions have. Most of us received our 1st PAP smear, pelvic exam, and yes - birth control pills from PP. PP is the reason I didn't end up like my mother - pregnant @ 16 with a life of alcoholism & 3 failed marriages to look forward to. So for those of us who have devotedly given our blood sweat & tears to Komens, it's like finding out your husband has never really loved you & has been screwing around since the wedding!

Brittanie Shey
Brittanie Shey

Charitynavigator.org is an excellent resource for this. I have a personal rule of always donating directly to the organization I want to support. That means I look like a heartless bitch when I tell the checker at HEB that I don't want to give an extra dollar to XYZ organization, but at least I know exactly where all of my dollars are going.

Guest
Guest

Kinda Like MADD that started as a good cause but morphed in to Prohibitionists that support getting rid of civil rights and having your blood sucked out of you at traffic stops.

scottindallas
scottindallas

 The head of the Salvation Army makes $50k or something.

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

Really?  That's pretty shocking... I mean, it's not like she needs the money, exactly.

One thing is for sure:  she is certainly far better off than the typical donor to the foundation.

Brittanie Shey
Brittanie Shey

I agree. Excellent follow-up to today's earlier post.

JimS
JimS

Well, thanks, I guess, but most people agree with me 24/7 100 percent. Anyway, that can be a goal for you. You have to work at it.

NONE
NONE

TREES INFECT BREASTS?

CJAZ
CJAZ

Well, the non-fetus kind of people, anyway.

gladnotsad
gladnotsad

Incidentally--Parkland is also "under investigation" and still has its meager $150,000. SGK "grant".  Is Nancy going to sever ties to one of the state"s premier research institutions?... what a scam!

The Credible Hulk
The Credible Hulk

Actually, it would be like MADD having a kegger, inviting a bunch of newly minted teenage drivers and forcing them to drive home drunk at the end of the evening.

Albert
Albert

Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards pulls down 400K a year, she certainly is better off than the typical donor.

Time for a new talking point.

scottindallas
scottindallas

remember, her daddy drove Brinker international and Chilis into the ground.  BI declared bankruptcy a couple/few years back didn't it?  Are you sure she has all the money/wealth she's accustomed to? 

It seems marathons don't really do that much for cancer, who knew?  Perhaps that's why marketing is not a pre-requisite for oncology.

Tamsterbath
Tamsterbath

Her ex-husband founded Brinker International, not her daddy.

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