If you’ve ever bought something pink to support breast cancer, your money likely went to the charity Susan G. Komen For the Cure. It’s noble to want to help people who are suffering from such a devastating disease, but before you reach into your wallet next time, you might want to take a closer look at just how the foundation is spending their – and your – money.
Their list of questionable practices is long, but one of the most controversial ways they use donor money is to file lawsuits against well-meaning Mom-and-Pop charities that aim to raise money for cancer and other ailments.
One such charity, family-run kite-flying charity Kites for a Cure, found themselves on the receiving end of Komen legal action because of their use of “for a cure,” despite the fact that they were raising money for lung cancer research rather than breast cancer. They were also ordered by the foundation to never use pink in conjunction with fundraising efforts. Now bigger charities can bully smaller ones into not using entire colors? What is the point?
Kites for a Cure’s Mary Ann Tighe said the most upsetting part of the situation was the fact that Komen’s actions forced her to spend her time and money dealing with legal issues instead of raising money for cancer.
Another small charity, the dog sledding breast cancer fundraiser Mush for the Cure, was threatened by the foundation’s lawyers into changing their name. That charity’s head, Sue Prom, pays for expenses with her own money and was not sure how to defend herself.
She said: “It’s not okay. People don’t give their money to the Komen Foundation and they don’t do their races and events so that Komen can squash any other fundraising efforts by individuals. That’s not what it’s about.”
One intellectual property lawyer remarked that the plethora of oppositions filed by Komen against other charities was surprising and was the sort of behavior one might expect from a major corporation, not a charitable organization. He feels there are better ways they could protect their trademarks while coexisting with other charities.
Does Komen really want to find a cure?
While the Susan G. Komen Foundation was set up with the best of intentions by its namesake’s sister in her memory after she passed away from breast cancer, their tactics have turned off many potential supporters.
Komen pushes for women all over the world to get mammograms, despite the fact that too much mammogram radiation can increase a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer. Interestingly, the foundation owns General Electric stock, who are one of the world’s biggest mammography machine manufacturers and also happen to sponsor the foundation. The same is true of leading mammography film manufacturer Dupont.
They also attracted a lot of negative attention for their decision to partner with sponsors like Kentucky Fried Chicken, which is not exactly a company that promotes healthy habits.
Only one fifth of Komen’s $400 million in funds are reportedly used every year to pay for researching a cure for cancer, with the remainder going to executive salaries and bonuses as well as corporate-sponsored fundraisers. For example, the foundation’s president earns more than half a million dollars a year, according to TruthWiki.
It’s really disheartening to see a big name like Komen that many people believe is doing good work use funds that could be helping sick people to engage in these petty turf wars.
This begs the question: do they really want to find a cure, or do they want to keep their income flowing? If they truly wanted to find a cure, they would welcome the efforts of other charities working toward that same goal instead of trying to shut them down and giving money to lawyers that could be helping cancer patients.