Is it OK to endorse bad things for a good cause?

March 15, 2012 No Comments » Add Consumer Insight
Is it OK to endorse bad things for a good cause?

The Susan G. Komen Foundation has issued a statement rescinding the “new rule” that allowed them to deny funding to Planned Parenthood, but their blunder has made people look more closely at the corporatization of today’s non-profit charities.

In addition to adopting a right-wing agenda, the SGK folks are also guilty of spending lots of your donated dough bullying any other group that even remotely infringes on their copyrighted “race for the cure.”

Alternet’s Lauren Kelley says that the SGK disaster should also remind us that affluent charities such as SGK risk indulging in “pinkwashing” as they pursue corporate cash.

Today’s corporatized non-profits often forge “strategic partnerships” with companies whose products often have little or nothing to do with the cause – and some may actually be part of the problem. Raising $311 million as SGK did in 2010 is no mean trick. All too often this means extending the integrity of their pink-ribbon “brand” to questionable corporations who, in return, get to preen for the cameras while handing over the check.

Swiffer? Really? Are women’s breasts made healthier by using a product that sloshes chemicals onto their floors once or twice a week? The Breast Cancer Fund, which takes in roughly 1% of what SGK raises each year, looks at the role household cleaning products may play in breast cancer. No corporate cash for them.

KFC? Really? The BBC is just one news organization reporting on the link between fatty foods and breast cancer.

An article by Anthony Gucciardi on the Natural Society website also raises questions about why SGK denies a link between breast cancer and BPA (bisphenol A) despite the evidence included in more than 130 scientific studies. He write “the organization has an extremely poor record of actually educating women how to actually prevent breast cancer.” Do too many potential donors sell products that contain BPA?

While the charity watchdogs at Navigator continue to give SGK four stars, it is a shock to see that they spent $36.7 million (yes, million) on administrative expenses in 2010. While SGK CEO Karen Brinker does not take a salary, Navigator reports that former president and CEO Hala G. Moddelmog was paid a whopping $456,437 that year.

Even their “reversal” on Planned Parenthood may be more a pr stunt than a guarantee they will fund Planned Parenthood in the future. Blogger Angus Johnston’s careful parsing of their statement uncovers that it only guarantees paying existing grants in full, which was never in doubt. About future years, it merely guarantees PP can apply.