Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Susan G. Komen for the Bucks: A Grifter's Tale

Nancy Brinker: Grifter for the Cure
Nancy Brinker founded Susan G. Komen for the Cure in honor of her sister who died of breast cancer, in and of itself a fine tribute. Its fundraising technique has centered around 5k runs and fitness walks.

Then, in 2012, Brinker decided to get political with the "non-profit," hiring an ultra-conservative vice president -- Karen Handel, who resigned in the middle of the firestorm -- and cutting off Planned Parenthood from future funding, a step Brinker hastily undid as protests spread, contributors dried up, and race participants fled in droves.

Mary Elizabeth Williams of Salon tells it:
Turns out that in 2011, it spent just 15 percent of its donations on research — nearly half of what it did just a few years prior. And, significantly, its founder, Nancy Brinker, the woman whose vow to the sister she lost to cancer has served as the organization’s poignant, relatable narrative, stepped down as its CEO. In August, Brinker announced she was taking on a new role, as chairwoman of the executive committee. (She is, however, still listed as its CEO and founder on the Komen site. Komen says it’s still looking for her replacement.) In short, the whole series of fiascoes was so appalling that Deanna Zandt, author of “Share This! How You Will Change the World With Social Networking,” called the Komen fiasco a teachable “example of what not to do.”
Yet after more than a year of bad publicity and declining participation, Brinker herself seems to be doing just fine. As Cheryl Hall pointed out this weekend in the Dallas Morning News, Brinker made “$684,717 in fiscal 2012, a 64 percent jump from her $417,000 salary from April 2010 to March 2011.” That’s a whole lot of green for all that pink. Hall notes that’s about twice what the organization’s chief financial officer, Mark Nadolny, or former president Liz Thompson were making. And as Peggy Orenstein points out on her blog Monday, it’s considerably more than the average nonprofit CEO salary of $132,739.
Nancy Brinker once had a great narrative, and as far as anyone knows it was sincere. Now, though, she, like many others, has turned her operation into a scam and herself into a grifter. When she got a taste of the high life, she wanted more. Breast cancer research, not so much.

The narrative now should be run, don't walk, away from Nancy Brinker. Komen must now take the cure and stop the con.

More than a year later and the shame continues.

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