Komen Affiliates Scramble to Raise Funds

Following a series of public relations missteps by the national organization earlier this year, local affiliates are scrambling for donations and registrants as the spring fundraising season moves into high gear, the reports.

According to the Times, donations and registered attendance have fallen by more than 25 percent at some Komen fundraising events this year. At the same time, a study recently found that the Komen brand had taken a hit — bad news for local affiliates, which operate as independently incorporated nonprofits but must abide by policies set forth by the national office.

Trouble for the breast cancer charity began earlier this year when the organization announced it would stop funding . Although the charity later reversed its decision, Komen affiliates have experienced a wave of criticism from supporters who feel local needs are not being supported by the national office, which made the policy decision without input from its local partners. One person told the Tucson chapter via e-mail that "We no longer trust Komen to represent our interests or views. It's time to get your house in order. The issue is top down." As a result of such criticism, Komen has implemented a number of changes, including increasing the number of affiliate representatives on its nine-person national board to two and establishing an affiliate leadership council where local executives can work with their national counterparts to review major policy and business changes.

While the Planned Parenthood episode remains an ongoing challenge for Komen affiliates, Leslie Aun, vice president of communications in the national office, told the Times that Komen is beginning to see encouraging trends in race participation and other fundraising events. "We believe that we will rebound as a better and stronger organization," said Aun, who is resigning her position, effective May 11. "But we also know it will take time and hard work to fully regain the public's trust."

Natasha Singer. "." New York Times 04/27/2012.