Why We Should Require More When We Donate
Do you care about women’s health issues? In a case like this, how do you choose?
The Susan G. Komen Foundation raises money–lots of money–for breast cancer research. Planned Parenthood provides health services across the country. For years, Planned Parenthood has received grant money from the Komen Foundation, which has funded 170,000 breast exams over the past five years.
This week, the Komen Foundation eliminated its financial support Planned Parenthood, citing a regulation that prohibits funding organizations that are under Congressional investigation. Criticism was immediate and ferocious, claiming that the change was political in nature and pointing out the Komen Foundation’s ties to political parties.
Today, the Komen Foundation reversed that decision, saying that a new policy would mean that only criminal investigations would result in a loss of funding:
Our only goal for our granting process is to support women and families in the fight against breast cancer. Amending our criteria will ensure that politics has no place in our grant process. We will continue to fund existing grants, including those of Planned Parenthood, and preserve their eligibility to apply for future grants, while maintaining the ability of our affiliates to make funding decisions that meet the needs of their communities.
–Nancy G. Brinker, Founder and CEO of Susan G. Komen Foundation
But the statement does not address the influence of politics on the organization. Their own Senior VP of Public Policy, Karen Handel, identifies herself as a pro-life Christian and has publicly shared her opposition to Planned Parenthood. While there’s no evidence that Handel played a role in this process, people “with direct knowledge of the Komen decision-making process” have said that the regulation connecting funding decisions and Congressional investigations was designed specifically to exclude Planned Parenthood. Certainly other organizations have not been subject to the regulation.
What was the immediate result of the Komen actions? In one day, Planned Parenthood received direct donations totaling $650,000–replacing nearly all of the money that Komen decided not to give them.
Longer term, though, this is a reminder to take a hard look at the organizations to which you give your time and money–no matter where you stand on this particular issue. What do you know about them and how they make decisions? Who determines their priorities? And when they have a crisis–as many organizations will–how transparent are their communications? We all need to ask more questions and insist on real answers. That is our responsibility.