October is my very, very favorite month. For me it means three things: I can FINALLY pull out my boots, pumpkin-flavored everything and a lot of pink.


For the past week I’ve been debating with myself whether or not I should choose to write THIS post, during THIS month. I didn’t want to come off disrespectful towards an organization that has done so much to shed light on breast cancer and has empowered women across the world.

However, as I debated more and more with myself I started thinking about that people want to trust the nonprofit they are donating to or advocating for. I thought I could turn a negative moment for the Susan G. Komen Foundation into a positive one and restore some people’s faith in the organization.

The Background

According to the website, Susan G. Komen was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 33. During her three-year fight with the disease, Komen continually mentioned that she wanted to aid in the research of breast cancer and make waiting rooms nicer for the people who had to sit in them. Komen’s sister, Nancy Brinker, made a promise to her dying sister that she would continue her fight and share her story.

In 1982, the Susan G. Komen Foundation was born. With it came the development of the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, a three-day walk to shed light on breast cancer. Since its development, the foundation’s website is said to have raised almost two billion dollars for breast cancer awareness and research. Not to mention, the foundation has successfully turned the month of October pink.

The Scandal

As part of the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s promise, it provided funding to Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood used the funding to provide cancer screenings to woman who could otherwise not afford to have them.

However, in February of 2012 Planned Parenthood went under fire when the government questioned its use of federally supplied funds to provide abortions. When word spread, the Susan G. Komen Foundation retracted funding to Planned Parenthood immediately according to an article from CBS News.

According to the article, the Susan G. Komen Foundation had previously decided not to provide funding to organizations under government scrutiny. The foundation felt that the Planned Parenthood investigation was grounds to retract funding.

This caused an outrage amongst donors and political leaders alike. The Susan G. Komen Foundation faced a stream of repercussions. Donors were outraged that their money would no longer help woman who could otherwise not afford life-saving screenings. Political leaders thought the foundation should reverse its decision. Planned Parenthood saw an increase in donations since it would no longer receiving funds from the Komen Foundation.

More backlash came when three days later the Komen Foundation apologized and announced it would begin providing funding to Planned Parenthood again.

The Aftermath

The worst part of this scandal? It made an amazing organization look really bad. As a future public relations practitioner, the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s back-and-forth decision made people question the integrity of the organization. Even more, if donations weren’t going to life-saving screenings then what were they going to?

No donor wants to have to question where his or her donations are actually going. Especially when the organization’s founder is getting a raise. This caused a downfall in donations, which obviously affected the Komen Foundation.

The effects of this scandal were felt this year when the Komen Foundation announced it would have to cancel several of the three-day races.

From the standpoint of a public relations major, this was smart. The Susan G. Komen Foundation came clean before the question was even asked. Yes, the economy was bad, which affected funding for the races. And yes, PART of the reason why the races were cancelled was due to their cutoff of funding to Planned Parenthood.

The Susan G. Komen Foundation has put the Planned Parenthood scandal behind them and is moving forward with its promise to woman. For those skeptical of donating, I don’t think there’s any need to be. The foundation has changed the world of woman and gave a voice to those who thought they had to fight breast cancer in silence or be ashamed of their diagnosis. So think pink this month and instead of thinking scandal, think of how far we’ve come.


Tell me: Do you feel comfortable donating to the Susan G. Komen Foundation? Or does one mess up by a nonprofit scare you away?