Having worked with multiple non-profits, both as a staff member and as a volunteer, I'm going to be watching with great interest what happens with Susan G. Komen for the Cure over the coming months. Why? Because they've had two significant PR events just this week that I think might affect them financially for at least the near future, if not over the long term.
The first event was the announcement that they are cutting off funding to Planned Parenthood for breast cancer screenings. Their stated reason is that they have a new policy that prevents them from funding organizations that are under investigation by the government, but it's been pointed out that the implementation of the new policy is conveniently timed to coincide with the launch of an investigation by a conservative Florida congressman. The new policy hasn't prevented them from accepting funds from organizations under investigation by the government (Bank of America to name one). It's also quite a coincidence that Komen's Senior VP of Public Policy is a pro-life Republican who ran for Governor of Georgia two years ago. At a minimum the organization looks disingenuous and quite frankly I think they've offended a huge segment of their supporters.
As if that's not bad enough a new documentary about Komen is getting ready to hit the indy theater circuit this month and given the organization's recent missteps I have a feeling it will get even more attention than the producers could have dreamed just a week ago. Judging by the trailer (see below) it doesn't look like this is a glowing tribute to the organization, and added to this week's developments I have a feeling it could put a serious dent in Komen's fundraising activities. Depending on your view that could be a good or bad thing – there's an argument to be made that the money that doesn't go to Komen could go to other worthy causes – but I think it will be a case study for non-profit managers to study for years to come.