Funding is complicated, I’ll just start with that. And it shouldn’t surprise anyone that it’s political, especially for organizations at the level of Komen.
So goes the story about Komen’s decision to stop giving grants to 19 of Planned Parenthood’s 83 affiliates: It’s complicated.
(Wait, before I go further, let me just say I have supported both organizations, have friends at both organizations, and have benefited personally from both organizations.)
In a video defending Komen’s decision, Komen’s founder, Nancy Brinker, describes “new strategies” to ensure accountability, minimize duplicity, etc. As a donor, this is what we demand nonprofits and foundations do, right? Make sure my money’s being used in the most effective and efficient way — and that it’s not given to suspicious nonprofits — right?!
A New York Times story states that “the Komen board voted that all of its vendors and grantees must certify that they are not under investigation by federal, state or local authorities.” Folks, this sounds reasonable.
The story also states that the board knew the only grantee this would affect would be Planned Parenthood. And they did it anyway. Beyond that, the story states that they did it purposefully, because it would affect Planned Parenthood specifically. Hmmm…..
Okay, it sounds like Komen bowed to pro-life pressure. But if I were working on this story, I would dig a little deeper into the relationship between the two organizations, as funder and grantee: Exactly how does the funding work? What are the other requirements for grantees? How much warning did the Planned Parenthood affiliates get from Komen? Why only those 19 affiliates? What might partner nonprofits do to help make up for this loss of funding? Why was it assumed that these affiliates would continue to get funding indefinitely anyway? How might this affect Planned Parenting’s funding going forward (because reactionary, outraged donations don’t last, let’s face it)? How might it affect Komen’s?
The journalist in me sees easy bait for website traffic. (“Komen Ends Mammograms for Poor Women”) But the nonprofit communications professional in me sees how this decision can be more complicated than it looks — and maybe even more defensible for Komen. (I would hate to be a communications director at a Komen affiliate right now. Oy.)
And on a personal level, it’s very hard for me to turn this into a witch hunt because I believe Komen’s mission is so important. And because I know of so many people who work for and raise money for Komen. I mean, we all do.
Komen is huge. It’s one of the few nonprofit “brands” that everyone can name. At some point, its politics and fundraising “secrets” had to come out. We shouldn’t act so shocked and appalled.
Moreover … we can’t let this divide us, ladies. This is just what they want! (And by “they” I mean the forces that try to keep women in their place. You know who you are.) Let’s not settle this the easy way, high school way — with ugly Facebook comments and Twitter accusations, FFS. Let’s figure this out.
Either way, aren’t you excited about the progress this is going to lead to? We just got the Obama administration to tell employers and health insurance providers that they must cover contraception for women free of charge, despite political pressure to rule otherwise. Stay positive, ladies!