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Local Komen event feels fallout from controversy

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Local Race for the Cure organizers are pleading with past supporters not to sit out this year’s event, regardless of their feelings about Susan G. Komen national policies involving Planned Parenthood.

Registration for the annual Susan G. Komen fundraiser, scheduled for April 21 in downtown Indianapolis, is off from this time last year by 30 percent, said Dana Curish, executive director of the Central Indiana Affiliate of Susan G. Komen.  

Controversy erupted in January when the national Komen organization pulled financial support for Planned Parenthood’s mammogram program. Catholic bishops had for years discouraged women from participating in Race for the Cure because Komen was giving funds to a group that performs more than 300,000 abortions annually. 

Komen’s decision, seen as politically motivated, infuriated supporters, and it was quickly reversed.

Komen’s national policy didn’t affect funding decisions by the local group, which hasn't given a grant to Planned Parenthood of Central Indiana since 2004, Curish said.

“It’s about some of the activities that have taken place at our national office. I’m sure that has a significant impact on our numbers,” Curish said of the slowdown in registrations. “What will happen is that local, central Indiana, Hoosier women will be hurt. That’s the point we’re trying to get across.”

Last year’s Race for the Cure raised $2.6 million, about 80 percent of the local affiliate’s annual revenue. About 40,000 people participate in the 5-kilometer and 1-mile run/walk, making the Indianapolis race the sixth-largest in the country.

Curish sent an e-mail Thursday morning to past participants, telling them that 75 percent of their donations will fund breast-health services and 25 percent will go to research.

“Here in central Indiana, NOTHING HAS CHANGED,” the e-mail says. The e-mail contains links to information on past Komen grantees, the local grantmaking process and local research initiatives.

The national controversy resulted in multiple executive resignations, starting with Karen Handel, the vice president of public policy and a past Republican candidate for governor of Georgia.

Curish said her office is still hearing from people who support Planned Parenthood, as well as those who don't want the organization to receive Komen money.

“We do control what we do with our money locally, but I don’t think people understand that,” Curish said.

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  • Give directly to Planned Parenthood
    It's simple. If you want to support local efforts to test and treat breat cancer, give to Planned Parenthood of Indiana. They are the largest tester and at some level provider of treatment. If you supported Komen in the past, stop paying double administrative expenses and give directly in your own community. Don't give monies to any organization that (as Komen National did) can make arbitrary decisions based on politics. If you don't like Planned Parenthood, give your dollars to orphanages...that's where the unwanted pregnancies will end up after they can't get a pregnancy termination.
  • Poor Women Need Assistance
    The Komen monies that went to Planned Parenthood went for poor women to get referrals for mammograms. It was eye-opening to learn that, in Indiana, no money has gone to Planned Parenthood since 2004, so we have not been supporting the mammography (and other health-related) needs of poor Hoosier women since then and that's unfortunate (unless monies for poor women was channeled through another organization, an assertion that I haven't heard, so must assume it isn't happening). Is there a way to donate directly to the Komen Tissue Bank? Is there a way to donate money that I know will go to the mammography needs of poor women in Indiana? The Komen incident shows that it is dangerous to bow to political pressure, no matter which side it's from, instead of focusing on how to best support the mission of the organization.
  • Chris gets it
    Finally, someone who makes some sense on these posts. Why all the grousing about Nancy Brinker's salary? She runs a huge and complex organization. If this were the for-profit world, no one would bat an eye. Money given to American Cancer Society does not stay local. Plus, they spend a lot more on overhead than most nonprofits. So go ahead, ignore the women in Indiana who need education, screening and treatment support for breast cancer. Next year is going to be a really painful one for our mothers and daughters.
  • Your Comment Makes No Sense
    So, you are upset about a policy decision made by the national organization to temporarily yank the funding for Planned Parenthood, which was reversed, and now you are going to punish the local chapter which raises money for breast cancer survivors?

    Yep, that makes ZERO sense. First, it punishes cancer survivors who would be helped with the money given to Komen. Second, it basically sends the message (to the national organization) that the decision to defund Planned Parenthood might as well be reinstated since those that care about Planned Parenthood apparently won't support Komen, even though the funding was restored. Third, it indirectly hurts Planned Parenthood because if you don't give money to Komen, then they don't have money to give to Planned Parenthood--and wasn't the whole protest over funding for Planned Parenthood being cut off??

    America has become way too ideological! Now, we are just a bunch of idiots that would cut off our nose to spite our face.
  • Skipping Komen
    From now on my money goes directly to Planned Parenthood or a research institute. I'm not funding the salaries of people who make these sorts of decisions any longer.
  • I gave
    Komen is gitting what she deserves. I gave last year & will no this year
  • I'm done too...
    Komen Foundation and the Race For The Cure started out as a really good way of raising attention and funds. Unfortunately, like many charities, once it got big and important, paying its leadership stratospheric salaries and spending millions on advertising, it became just another monolithic corporate enterprise.

    I am not a pro-lifer, but have to say that I find it ironic that an organization dedicated to saving human life gives donations it collects for that purpose to another organization that is (at least partly) in the business of ending human life.

    These days, tax-exempt organizations are spending money far more lavishly than they used to. If you're a CEO of a charity, wouldn't you be embarassed for people to know you accepted a four hundred thousand dollar salary?
  • No More Komen
    I too will direct my funds American Cancer Society. I will not pay to kill babies.
  • Support the little guys
    I don't support Komen or American Cancer Society because they carry extremely high admin costs both nationally and locally. I invest in the smaller local charities who make real differences in the lives of people. Research is important and necessary but also very heavily funded. Support services are sadly not. Services that actually help people get through cancer. My money goes to organizations like Cancer Support Community Central Indiana, Pink Ribbon Connection, and OvarComing Together. And Cancer Support Community serves all cancers not just breast so my dollar reaches more.
  • I agree completely
    Couldn't agree more. I have directed my donations directly to research agencies working on breast cancer and to Planned Parenthood to help more women have access to healthcare.
  • How much is enough?
    They need to spend less money on lobbying and administrative expenses. If you have loved ones that have suffered from other forms of cancer that are under-funded and offer very few treatment options it is disturbing to see Komens constant power grab and cutesy pink junk all over.
  • Medical Research & Politics
    When Komen allowed itself to be drawn into the political arena by the extreme right wing of the Republican Party, my wife and I decided to seek other medical research for our donations and commitments. When researchers, and those supporting medical research allow themselves to become a pawn in a political one-on-one, that in this case impacts healthcare for women all across the socioeconomic spectrum, we needed to determine what was really happening with our research dollars. We wish Komen well, but we have moved on from this major mistake that should have never happened.
    • Komen
      Why does Nacy Brinker draw a salary of $417,171 for "work" on the charity she runs on behalf of her beloved sister, The Susan G. Komen Foundation?? That accounts for over 12% of the administrative costs. (see charity navigator.com )
    • Susan Komen
      I, too, will not support the Komen Foundation. Unfortunately, the local organization is linked to the national organization which bowed to the Planned Parenthood pressure. Actually, I was glad that this controversy came up because I had not realized that Komen supports Planned Parenthood. No more Komen runs for me!
    • Tissue Bank??
      Are you familiar with the Komen Tissue Bank located right here in our great city? This is the only bank of normal breast tissue in the world! Nowhere is it called the American Cancer Society Tissue Bank. Put the politics aside and help support what we have locally.
      twitter: @PeacheyJr
    • Komen
      I did some research and the American Cancer Society has extremely high administrative costs and very little goes to early prevention and research. Komen has a very low administrative ratio something like 10 percent which comparatively is incredible. They also rank in the top 5 percent of nonprofits in the country as far as accounting and transparency is concerned. Everyone makes mistakes so ill give them a second look but don't give to a charity that hasnt made a difference in the lives of millions as Komen has! Other charities are questionable so be wary when you give.
    • Cancer
      I too have opted to no longer support the Susan G. Koman Foundation. The controversy in pulling their grant support from PP made take a good look at their spending vs administration costs. I didn't like what I saw, beyond that hyprocrisy of leaving grants still with Penn State after their handling of child abuse. And to be quite honest, I was tired of the crass commercialization of everyting being linked to Pink. I have breast, ovarian and cervical cancer in my family and find directing my money and time to the American Cancer Society is better spent. I will also continue to support Planned Parenthood, as I found it to be the only place I could get female medical tests and exams while I was unemployed/unisured. PP is often the only place the poor and underserved can get healthcare.
    • money
      These sort of fund raisers have gone on for years. Where does all the money go? To big pharma researchers to develop another toxic medicine of questionable value?
    • Was a Past Supporter. Not Anymore
      I have numerous friends and family members who have unfortunately been touched by cancer with several of them having breast cancer. I used to donate to Susan G Komen locally, but no more. The Planned Parenthood controversy caused me to further examine how donations were being spent and allocated by Susan G Komen Foundation. I no longer agree with how they operate locally, at the state level, or nationally and I plan to spend and donate my funds with other charitable organizations...just not this one. Local folks should continue to let top Susan G Komen national leaders know that they really screwed up. This does not help the cause either http://bcaction.org/2012/02/22/pink-ribbons-inc-trailer/
    • Give directly
      If you want to support cancer research, donate directly to the American Cancer Society. If you want to support women's health care, donate directly to Planned Parenthood. There is no need for Komen as a mediary, and many reasons not to run the money through them.

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