Susan G. Komen, formerly known as
Susan G. Komen for the Cure
Susan G. Komen for the Cure and
originally as The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, often
referred to as simply Komen, is the largest and best-funded breast
cancer organization in the United States.
From its inception in 1982 up to 2010, Komen has spent nearly $1.5
billion for breast cancer education, research, advocacy, health
services and social support programs in the U.S., and through
partnerships in more than 50 countries. Today, Komen has more
than 100,000 volunteers working in a network of 124 affiliates
According to the
Harris Interactive 2010 EquiTrend annual brand equity
poll, Komen was once one of the most trusted non-profit organizations
in America. In 2012, Komen's decision to discontinue funding
Planned Parenthood was very controversial, attracting widespread
media attention and criticism, and the organization's reputation was
damaged, resulting in a significant decline in donations, and
fundraising event participation. The organization has also
been criticized for executive pay raises, administrative costs,
affiliations with certain sponsors and claims that it used misleading
statistics in advertising.
In March 2013, Komen's ranking on
Charity Navigator dropped from four
stars (the highest rating) to three stars, going to two stars in
2014. As of June 2016, Komen was back to three stars, with a score
of 81 out of 100.
3.1 Use of funds
3.2 Grants and awards
3.3 Global activities
4.1 Cause marketing
4.3 Mobile fundraising
4.4 Top corporate partners
5 Controversy and criticism
5.1 Pinkwashing in cause marketing
5.1.2 Health criticisms
5.2 Legal battles over trademarking
5.3 Relationship with Planned Parenthood
Embryonic stem cell
Embryonic stem cell research
5.5 CEO salary
6 See also
7 Further reading
9 External links
Susan Goodman, later Susan Goodman Komen, was born in 1943 in Peoria,
Illinois. She was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 33.
She died of the disease at age 36 in 1980. Komen's younger sister,
Nancy Goodman Brinker, who believed that Susan's outcome might have
been better if patients knew more about cancer and its treatment,
promised her sister that she would do everything she could to end
breast cancer. To fulfill that promise, Brinker founded the
Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation in Komen's memory in 1982.
In 2008, the 25th anniversary of the organization, the name was
Susan G. Komen for the Cure
Susan G. Komen for the Cure and trademarked a new logo in
support of its promise "to end breast cancer forever." The new
logo is a pink ribbon that resembles a runner in motion and is
meant to reflect the importance of Komen's signature Race for the Cure
event, which is currently the world's largest fund raising event
for breast cancer education and research. The logo symbolically
associates the organization with the values of breast cancer awareness
("pink ribbon culture"): fear of breast cancer, hope, and the
charitable goodness of people and businesses who publicly support the
breast cancer movement.
In December 2009 Brinker was appointed CEO of the organization.
Judy Salerno became CEO of the organization in 2012. In November 2016,
the organization announced that Salerno would step down as CEO the
Komen's Mission Statement: Save lives by meeting the most critical
needs in our communities and investing in breakthrough research to
prevent and cure breast cancer.
Komen's Bold Goal: In 2016, Susan G. Komen announced their Bold Goal
"Reduce the current number of breast cancer deaths by 50% in the U.S.
Komen's philosophy mixes education, action, research, and community
involvement. To date, Komen has funded more than $800 million in
breast cancer research. Patient navigation is a main focal point
for Komen, especially in recent years. Most recently they were in D.C.
to advocate to reduce insurance barriers to breast cancer
treatment. In line with their Bold Goal, Susan G. Komen partnered
with BreastCancerTrials.org to create a new tool to help people living
with metastatic breast cancer find clinical trials.
Many scientific reviews have concluded that indiscriminate screening
mammography for all middle-aged and older women, regardless of each
woman's individual risk of developing breast cancer, results in
overtreatment of some women whose cancer would never harm them. For
every one woman whose life is saved by screening mammography, 250 to
500 women will be told that they might have breast cancer when they
don't (false positives), 125 to 250 will have biopsies performed, and
between two and ten women will receive unnecessary
Other organizations like the
National Breast Cancer Coalition follow a
"medical consumerism" model in which individual women are educated by
their physicians about their options and encouraged to make
individualized, evidence-based decisions about their health care.
Other organizations advocate more research into the environmental
causes of breast cancer and cancer prevention.
Use of funds
Komen's 2009–2010 Expenses
Public health education (39.1%)
Health screening services (13.0%)
Fund-raising costs (10.0%)
Administrative costs (11.3%)
In the 2009–2010 fiscal year, ending March 31, 2010, Komen reported
approximately US$400 million in earnings. Of this, $365 million
(91.3 %) came from contributions from the public, including
donations, sponsorships, race entry fees, and contributed goods and
services. Approximately $35 million (8.8 %) came from interest
and dividends and gains on investments.
That same fiscal year, Komen reported approximately US$360 million in
expenses. $283.2 million of this went towards program services: $75.4
million (20.9 % of total expenditure) went to research, $140.8
million (39.1 %) went to public health education, $46.9 million
(13 %) went to health screening services, and $20.1 million
(5.6 %) went to treatment services. The other $76.8 million went
to supporting services, including $36.1 million (10 % of total
expenditure) toward fund-raising costs and $40.6 million (11.3 %)
toward general and administrative costs.
The Komen CEO salary in 2010 was $459,406 a year. Komen paid
founder and CEO
Nancy Brinker $417,712 in 2011. After the Planned
Parenthood controversy, donations dropped and the foundation canceled
half of its fundraising 'Race for the Cure' events, but Brinkler
received a 64% increase to $684,000 annually, which drew fire and was
considered "extremely high" according to Charity Navigator's CEO.
The organization reported that its CEO earned $483,483 of compensation
during 2014 on its annual return to the Internal Revenue Service.
The organization also reported 13 other employees who each earned more
than $175,000 of compensation, bonuses, retirement benefits, and other
benefits during 2014.
Grants and awards
Since its foundation in 1982, Komen has provided funding for basic,
clinical, and translational breast cancer research and for innovative
projects in the areas of breast health education and breast cancer
screening and treatment. The organization has awarded more than 1,000
breast cancer research grants totaling more than $180 million.
As of 2007[update], research grants are available for basic, clinical,
and translational research; postdoctoral fellowships; and breast
cancer disparities research.
Komen awards three-year postdoctoral fellowships to individuals
working under the guidance of experienced cancer researchers in order
to recruit and retain young scientists in the field of breast cancer
research. In addition to funding research, Komen and its affiliates
fund non-duplicative, community-based breast health education and
breast cancer screening and treatment projects for the medically
Since 1992, Komen has also annually awarded work in the field of
cancer research with the Komen Brinker Award for Scientific
In recent years, Komen has cut by nearly half the proportion of
fund-raising dollars it spends on research grants, according to a 2012
Reuters analysis. In 2011, the foundation spent $63 million
(15 %) of its donations on research grants and
Around 458,000 people worldwide die from breast cancer every year.
Komen for the Cure states that its aim is to "reduce the burden of
breast cancer on a global level". Believing that no single approach to
breast health will prove effective around the world, Komen works with
local communities and organizations to develop programs for particular
groups or cultures.
Susan G. Komen for the Cure
Susan G. Komen for the Cure announced their involvement with
the US-Middle East Partnership for Breast Cancer Awareness and
Middle East Partnership Initiative
Middle East Partnership Initiative program that unites
leading breast cancer advocates in the U.S. and the Middle East with
the goal increasing early detection of breast cancer and reduce
mortality through improved awareness, increased clinical resources,
Susan G. Komen for the Cure
Susan G. Komen for the Cure was active in over 50 countries,
with its largest affiliates in
Italy and Germany.
On October 28, 2010,
Jerusalem held its first Susan G. Komen Race for
the Cure. Over 5,000 Christian, Muslim, and Jewish people walked and
ran to show solidarity in what was described as an historic event.
The main goal of the race was to raise awareness of breast cancer and
establish the organization as a permanent fixture in Israel. Prior to
the race, the Old City's walls were illuminated pink by Komen's
founder Nancy G. Brinker, Jerusalem's Israeli Mayor Nir Barkat, and
the Prime Minister of Israel's wife Sara Netanyahu.
The Organization raises over $36 million a year from over 60 cause
marketing partnerships. These include prominent campaigns, such as
those with Yoplait, which runs the Save Lids to Save Lives program,
and a partnership with Delta Air Lines.
Cause marketing allows Komen to associate the breast cancer brand with
its organization. By promoting the "fear, hope and goodness"
associated with the breast cancer brand, Komen is able to promote
itself, breast cancer awareness, its sponsoring corporations, and
The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure is the world's largest
fundraising event for breast cancer. It consists of a series of 5K
runs and fitness walks to raise money for breast cancer, to raise
awareness of the disease, to celebrate those who have survived breast
cancer, and memorialize those who have not.
The first race was run in
Dallas, Texas in 1983, with 800
participants. The 25th Anniversary of the Race was celebrated in
2008. In 2009, it was renamed as Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.
In 2010, there were about 130 races worldwide. Additionally in
2010, over 1.6 million people participated in the race, which utilized
over 100,000 volunteers.
The primary source of revenue for the event is donations collected by
the participants in the race. In 2011, Komen said that three-quarters
of the net proceeds from the event were being used locally to pay for
community outreach programs, breast health education, and breast
cancer screening and treatment projects run by the Komen affiliate,
and the remaining quarter was being sent to the central
Komen's other nationwide events include:
A group participating in a Komen Race for the Cure event
Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure — a 60-mile (97 km) walk
for women and men: participants walk 60 miles (97 km) in three
days to help raise millions of dollars for breast cancer research and
patient support programs
Susan G. Komen Marathon for the Cure — a grassroots fundraising
program offering fitness enthusiasts the chance to join in the fight
against breast cancer by running or walking a full (42.2 km or
26.2 mi) or half (21.1 km or 13.1 mi) marathon.
Susan G. Komen Passionately Pink for the Cure — a year-round
fundraising and education program allowing participants to choose any
date, invite friends, wear pink, have fun and raise money for the
Susan G. Komen Bowl for the Cure — a year-round fund-raising
and breast cancer awareness initiative founded in 2000 and sponsored
by USBC and The Bowling Foundation.
In October 2008,
Susan G. Komen for the Cure
Susan G. Komen for the Cure launched a mobile
donating campaign, allowing supporters to donate money by texting.
Top corporate partners
Susan G. Komen for the Cure
Susan G. Komen for the Cure has a following by large organizations,
who provide financial contributions as well as getting customers and
employees to support the cause.
Top organizations include:
Avcor Healthcare Products, Inc.
Bank of America
Cal-Maine Foods, Inc. (Eggland's Best)
Clemens Food Group
Ford Motor Company
FUZE and Honest Tea
Controversy and criticism
Pinkwashing in cause marketing
Komen is a key entity in the controversy over pinkwashing. The term
"pinkwashing" has been used to describe two different situations; 1)
organizations getting disproportionately large amounts of publicity
for donating very little, and 2) organizations that use the pink
ribbon to promote products that may be carcinogenic.
Ribbon Branded Stadium
Komen benefits from corporate partnerships, receiving over $55 million
a year from 216 corporate sponsors. However, critics say many
of these promotions are deceptive to consumers and benefit the
companies more than the charity.
Some campaigns require that consumers mail proof of purchase for a
promoted item before the manufacturer donates a few cents per purchase
to charity; some have a cap on the maximum amount donated, with all
sales beyond this fixed limit benefiting only the company, not the
promoted cause. Since their Save Lids to Save Lives campaign began
Yoplait has donated more than $25 million to Komen. In 2010,
their annual maximum commitment was raised to $1.6 million. In
return, a major sponsor such as
Yoplait obtains an exclusive contract;
no other yogurt manufacturer (such as Dreyer's, who inquired in 2000)
has the opportunity to use the branding. In 2002, credit card
American Express launched a "Charge for a Cure" campaign
which claimed that "in the search for a cure, every dollar counts."
The amount donated per qualifying transaction, regardless of purchase
amount, was one penny.
Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball partnered with Komen by selling and
donating amounts from pink MLB Louisville Slugger bats, pink
baseballs, and necklaces sold. On Mother's Day, breast cancer
survivors were eligible to be used as bat girls in games where pink
bats were used. MLB, a $1.2 billion industry, donates around $100,000
Bisphenol A is primarily used to make plastics, such as this
polycarbonate water bottle.
Several water bottle retailers have partnered with the Komen
Foundation. Water cooler bottles made of
contain BPA, which has been linked to breast cancer tumor growth.
For the 2008 model year,
Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company built a branded limited
edition of 2500
Ford Mustang motorcars with a "Warriors in Pink"
package as part of their long-running association with Komen;
an additional 1000 were offered for 2009's model year. A
longitudinal study found that women employed in the automotive
plastics industry are almost five times as likely to develop breast
cancer prior to menopause, compared to women in a control
In April 2010, Komen paired with fast food restaurant chain
offer "Buckets for the Cure," a promotion in which fried and grilled
chicken was sold in pink branded buckets. The collaboration garnered
criticism from media outlets, including The Colbert Report and
Bitch magazine, and raised criticisms about the promotion of
unhealthy eating habits and obesity, since obesity contributes to
KFC contributed over $4.2 million to Komen, the
largest single contribution in the organization's history. The
partnership with KFC, which has since ended, allowed Komen "to reach
many millions of women that they had been unable to reach before,"
In April 2011, Komen introduced its own perfume brand, "Promise Me",
promoted by Komen CEO
Nancy Brinker on the Home Shopping Network,
only to encounter opposition due to coumarin, oxybenzone, toluene and
galaxolide as potentially harmful ingredients. Komen stated its
intention to have the product reformulated but failed to withdraw
existing stocks of the "Promise Me" product from distribution.
In October 2014, Houston-based oil field services company Baker Hughes
was reported to have produced 1,000 pink drill bits to raise breast
cancer awareness. The land drill bits are used to break up geologic
formations in oil patches for hydraulic fracturing. These ties
have been criticized, because of the more than 700 chemicals used in
fracking more than one third are endocrine disruptors and at least one
quarter increase the risk of cancer.
Legal battles over trademarking
In 2007, the organization changed its name to Susan G. Komen for the
Cure and trademarked the running ribbon as part of its new branding
strategy. Komen has come under fire for legal action against other
non-profits or organizations using the phrase "for the cure" within
their names. An August 2010 article in The Wall Street Journal
detailed a case in which the organization Uniting Against Lung Cancer
was told in a letter from Komen that they should no longer use the
name "Kites for the Cure" for their annual fund-raising event. Komen
also wrote to the organization to warn them "against any use of pink
in conjunction with 'cure.'" More than 100 small charities have
received legal opposition from Komen regarding various uses of the
words "for the cure" in their names. Among the offending
charitable organizations and events were "Par for the Cure", "Surfing
for a Cure", "Cupcakes for a Cure" and "Mush for the Cure".
Komen says that the organization protects its trademarks as a matter
of financial stewardship in order to prevent confusion among donors.
Others suggest that the trademark issue is more about dominating the
pink ribbon market.
Critics have also asserted that the slogan itself implies the majority
of Komen's funds go to research, specifically research to find a means
to cure (and not merely treat or detect) the disease. By Komen's own
figures, however, 21% of the total budget goes to research. In the
words of cancer survivor Alicia Staley, "an organization that is
actively pursuing other small charities over the use of the term 'for
the cure' does not spend the majority of their own funds towards
research for a cure."
Relationship with Planned Parenthood
Beginning in 2007, Komen granted money to pay for 170,000 clinical
breast exams and 6,400 mammogram referrals at the Planned Parenthood
Federation of America and affiliates. Komen had said its
affiliates provide funds for screening, education and treatment
programs in dozens of communities in which
Planned Parenthood is the
only place that poor, uninsured or under-insured women can receive
On January 31, 2012, Komen stopped funding Planned Parenthood, citing
a congressional investigation by Rep.
Cliff Stearns and a newly
created internal rule about not funding organizations under any
federal, state or local investigation. While the move was
applauded by conservative religious and anti-abortion groups, it
was denounced by several editorials, women's health advocacy
groups, and politicians.
In the 24 hours after the news broke,
Planned Parenthood received more
than $400,000 from 6,000 donors, followed by pledges of a $250,000
matching grant from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and a
$250,000 gift from a foundation run by the CEO of Bonanza Oil Co. in
Dallas to replace the lost funding.
Four days later, Komen's
Board of Directors
Board of Directors reversed the decision and
announced that it would amend the policy to "make clear that
disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature
and not political". Several top-level staff members resigned from
Komen during the controversy. In August, Brinker
announced she would leave her CEO role. The number of
participants at various Komen fundraising events dropped 15-30% in
2012, compared to the previous year. The Susan G. Komen 3-Day
for the Cure fundraising walks were scaled back to seven US cities in
2013, from a former 14 cities, due to a 37 percent drop in
participation over the preceding four years.In January, 2014 it
was reported that the foundation saw a decline of 22% in contributions
in the year following their decision to cease (and then continue)
funding for Planned Parenthood.
Karen Handel, the Brinker protégée whose opposition to abortion was
at the center of the
Planned Parenthood controversy, resigned and has
published a book on the controversy titled Planned Bullyhood.
Embryonic stem cell
Embryonic stem cell research
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (February
Komen has also been criticized for ending funding for embryonic stem
cell research, beginning late in 2011, for suspected political
Potentially affected are millions of dollars funding cancer research
at institutions such as
Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the U.S.
National Cancer Institute, which also conduct research using embryonic
Komen has not clarified its current position on embryonic stem cell
research, which it supported in 2006.
According to Komen's 2011–2012 IRS Form 990 declarations, then-CEO
Nancy Brinker made $684,717 in that fiscal year, a 64 percent
raise. Komen stated the last CEO salary hike had taken place in
November 2010. While
Charity Navigator continued to give Komen
very favourable overall ratings on the basis of figures Komen had
declared to the IRS,
Charity Navigator president and CEO Ken
Berger described this remuneration as "extremely high".
This pay package is way outside the norm. It's about a quarter of a
million dollars more than what we see for charities of this size. This
is more than the head of the Red Cross is making for an organization
that is one-tenth the size of the Red Cross.
— Ken Berger of Charity Navigator, a group that evaluates and
After the release of this information, Doctor Judith Salerno was named
CEO, with Brinker named Founder and Chair of Global Strategy.
List of health-related charity fundraisers
Breast cancer awareness
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Parenthood August 2010
Jeffrey Goldberg (February 2, 2012). "Top Susan G. Komen Official
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January 31, 2012
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Planned Parenthood Replaces Komen Grant With Online Push (Bloomberg
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