Having Their Cake and Eating It Too

According to an article in today's Winston-Salem Journal the Triad affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure is experiencing a deep decline in its fundraising after the Planned Parenthood controversy the national organization created last year. That's not terribly surprising, but a quote from the president of the Triad affiliate is a bit befuddling:

Natasha Gore, president of the Triad affiliate, acknowledged the challenges that the local group faces, stressing that most of the money raised here stays in the region. She also expressed frustration that some would-be donors do not differentiate between the local affiliate and the national organization.

"A lot of the time, people think we are one and the same," Gore said. "If they're boycotting us because of something happening with the national organization, it does not really fit with what's going on."

The quote is befuddling because it's amazingly naive, if not downright disingenuous. Of course people are going to confuse the organizations because in the grand scheme of things they are the same organization. Sure the local affiliate has it's own board, staff, volunteers, grants, etc. but it has affiliated itself with the national organization, which means it benefits or suffers from the national organization's activities. The Triad affiliate certainly benefited from the national organization's advertising and branding activities and I don't recall hearing any concerns about brand confusion from the local affiliate before the controversy.

So the donors aren't confused, rather they're saying loudly and clearly that they've lost faith in the organization and it is up to organization on both the national and local level to win back that faith. If the local affiliate thinks the brand is too damaged to repair then they might want to consider:

  • Disassociation from the national organization
  • A name change (would likely be required by the national group anyway)
  • A clear articulation of the local group's principles/standards and how they're different from the national group's
  • An ad/branding campaign to introduce the "new" organization to the Triad, and to highlight all of the organizations that benefit from its grants

In the end an affiliation is like a marriage: you're stuck with it in good times and bad, and if the bad gets horrific then your only choice might be a divorce.

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