04 February 2012

I don't want to hear about Komen's "brand" anymore

So a few people have asked me about the debacle that the Susan G. Komen Foundation brought upon itself last week, creating a silly and transparent "rule" clearly intended to do nothing more than cut funding for Planned Parenthood. They reversed the decision three days later.  (ironically, the best tick-tock I can find is from Jezebel.) Specifically, I've been asked about the "damage" Komen has done to its "brand."

You know what?  I don't give a rat's ass about the Komen brand.  I don't care that they offer companies an easy opportunity to help customers feel warm and fuzzy in exchange for a few bucks and a licensing agreement.  They aren't the first nonprofit to take this approach, and they won't be the last. As for the hubub about "raising awareness," well, that's nice and all, but just go read Susan Niebur.

I do care that Komen helps fund other organizations to provide health care research, screenings, and treatment. I do care that the decision they initially made would have made it harder for women, particularly low-income women, to get the screenings they need. The decision contradicted everything I thought the people at Komen believed.

The justification for the decision the organization made is just ridiculous. You don't preserve your "fiduciary duty" by placing a grantee's fate in the hands of, say, a city councilor with an axe to grind.  "Endorse my re-election or I'll call an 'investigation' and take your Komen funding away."  This would throw the grant-making process into chaos.  If Komen's board of directors is really stupid enough to consider this rule and not think of this outcome in 30 seconds, none of them belong there.

I also note that, as of Saturday, there's been an "apology to the American people," but no real accountability for the people who made the initial decision.  And no, embarrassment is not the same as being held accountable.

Planned Parenthood is a lifeline to many women who need health care.  Yet it's obvious there are people at Komen who just don't like Planned Parenthood because they also provide reproductive health services such as abortion, and want to shut them down. They have already demonstrated they're willing to compromise Komen's mission (and make it harder for women to get health care services) to accomplish their goal.  I doubt they would let a week or so of bad publicity stand in their way.  And those people still work at Komen.  My guess is they're waiting for all this attention to turn elsewhere - as it inevitably does - and then they'll go at it again.

As long as that's the case, all this talk about Komen's "brand" is superfluous.

1 comment:

Julie Marsh said...

Bravo. As far as I was concerned, partnering with other orgs that actually provided services to women (and I'm not talking about hawking everyday items made over in pink), was the value provided by Komen. After these events, I'm not sure what value we can count on Komen to provide consistently going forward.