City Desk

Does Susan G. Komen Foundation Really Need WTOP’s Help?

Remember the flap over the Susan G. Komen Foundation's choice to pull funding from Planned Parenthood earlier this year? In January, Komen announced it would no longer give grants to organizations under federal investigation; at the time, House Republicans were investigating Planned Parenthood for providing legal abortions, which meant no grants for Planned Parenthood. That was swiftly followed by a huge backlash (and lots of private donations to PP). Eventually the right-leaning architect of the policy stepped down from her post, Komen apologized for getting involved in a political issue, the group backtracked, and eventually reinstated funding.

A few months later, Komen is doing just fine. It's preparing for its 2012 Race For The Cure on June 2 here in D.C., and to help, WTOP announced it would be highlighting Komen as its May "Charity of the Month." The program, which WTOP's Robin Newton says has been going on for more than five years, adds up to about $30,000 in free advertising for the selected charity, on both WTOP and WFED, which it also owns. "It's pretty much to bring awareness to the organization," Newton says.

So did the Planned Parenthood thing have any bearing on the decision? Apparently not. "They were chosen last year—we work on it almost a year out," Newton tells us, noting that 'TOP is already planning 2013's charities of the month. "[The Planned Parenthood issue] was not something that had come up. We didn't want to take it away from them."

Breast cancer awareness raises about $6 billion a year in donations and (sometimes questionable) merchandising. On Sunday, Avon Cosmetics raised $4 million for a breast cancer walk at the Monument. It's pretty clear that donating to breast cancer causes is always a safe bet for people looking to support a charity—unless of course, it's a scam.

So even if we set the Planned Parenthood debacle aside—though it's certainly worth keeping in mind—Komen hardly needs the $30,000 in free advertising it's getting from WTOP. The organization brings in more than $300 million a year thanks to race fees and public donations, it pays its CEO Nancy Brinker $417,000 a year, and it protects its "for the cure" branding so fiercely that it steps on smaller charities in the process.

While we're all for charitable donations (and the tax write-offs that come with them), spreading the wealth around to less secure organizations might have more of an impact. Might be worth thinking about as WTOP plans the 2013 charity calendar.

Photo by Jason Pier via Flickr/Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License

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  • Caroline

    I completely agree. PP disaster aside, Komen is leaning more towards for-profit than non-profit with their executive salaries and enormous reserve budget. It would be nice for TOP to highlight smaller, lesser known charities who are also making an impact on communities in need. Komen has enough print advertising and television air time to put most for-profits to shame! Nothing against Komen, but I can't help but pull for the smaller non-profits that have been devastated during the financial downturn.

  • Alison

    It's easy to point to Nancy Brinker's salary (which isn't that large for such a big organization) or Komen's overall revenue and complain, but I don't see how having a large charity is a bad thing. Komen gives tens of millions every year to support screening and cancer research. Smaller nonprofits can't afford to fund research like this, which is what makes Komen's role important. That's not to knock smaller charities either, but just to point out that "big" doesn't mean "bad."

  • Angie

    "Smaller nonprofits can't afford to fund research like this"

    That's because Komen keeps suing them for trademark infringement.

  • Shani Hilton

    @Alison you're arguing with straw men.

  • J

    This article lays out a really good point. There are lots of different cancers out there and Komen does not need anymore money or publicity. I definitely think WTOP could pick a charity more worthy and needy.

  • R

    All politics aside, Planned Parenthood receives much more of this same treatment that you are complaining Komen is receiving from WTOP.