Archive for March, 2012

Komen – Board Failure on a Massive Scale

Posted on March 27, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized |


Susan G. Komen Foundation – Board Failure on a Massive Scale

There’s a March 18th, 2012 article on the Chronicle of Philanthropy website, titled: Komen’s Crisis Came Not From Politics but From Poor Management Decisions                        

by Daniel Grunfeld and David Lash which contains a good analysis of the Susan M. Komen situation, but in my opinion the authors’ forecasts are a case of “looking through rose-colored glasses.” .

Since the initial “controversy” – it’s way more than just a bad PR move, the one group that actually has any power at all in this situation is the Komen’s Board of Directors. It’s the Board’s responsibility to determine whether or not the CEO needs to leave and it can fire her. They are the only group with that power.

And yes, I know that Brinker is also the Board chairman – (bad practice, btw) but she still has just one vote, and cannot prevent the Board from acting in its duty to the non-profit itself. Whether or not they will act, since the silence so far has been deafening, is a different question.

I agree with the points made in this analysis about what happened, and what non-profits should keep in mind (namely their mission and their constituents) as they make decisions.  Where I disagree with the analysis of Mr. Grunfeld and Mr. Dash is their prediction that:  “(Komen)… undoubtedly will continue to play a critical role in an important public-health issue for many years to come.”   

This prediction doesn’t accurately portray the sense of betrayal felt by millions of Susan B. Komen supporters, and the visceral sense that supporters who have gone on Breast Cancer walks for the past twenty years will never do it again for Komen, will never buy anything with a pink label again, the reports of yogurt with the pink label being the only one left in the dairy counter, etc.   Nancy Brinker took what was an apolitical organization, and because of her own personal beliefs, tried to turn it into a political one.  It didn’t work, and the group that hasn’t done its job yet is the Board of Directors.   If the mission of the Komen Foundation is to be Nancy Brinker’s personal piggy bank, then they’ve done their job.  If their job is to be responsible to Komen as a public charity, then they have failed, and are continuing to fail. 

My prediction is that three years from now, Komen may have an equal number of dollars in its bank account, but it has irrevocably harmed its brand, even if Brinker left, it will never have the corps of ambassadors it had built up over the last 20 years.  If the public awareness events (walks, bike rides, etc.,) even continue, they’ll just be a pale imitation of their past.  I also believe that pink branded goods will significantly decline.  Past supporters are cutting off the Susan B. Komen logos on their bags and covering them up with something else.  This is way past just a public relations blunder, it’s betrayal.

Bill Huddleston

The CFC Coach

March 24, 2012

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