Recovering From a Public-Relations Scandal: Tips for Komen
One of the nation’s biggest charities, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, today sought to regain support by reversing its controversial decision to eliminate grants to Planned Parenthood. But some fundraising and marketing experts predict that the organization faces a long battle to soothe angry donors, many of whom said they will never support the charity again.
“There is no question they have lost some donors for good,” says Kivi Leroux Miller, a nonprofit marketing consultant.
Many donors, she says, were already put off by Komen’s handling of other issues, such as a 2010 fundraising arrangement with KFC, which was criticized for promoting unhealthy foods linked to cancer. For such donors, Ms. Miller says, “this was the last straw.”
Comments on social-media sites seem to bear her out. “I’m glad that Komen reversed [its] funding decision, but I got to say, I really can’t imagine my dollars going to #komen anymore,” wrote one observer on Twitter.
Donors are disillusioned because of the way Komen handled the controversial issue, Ms. Miller and other public-relations experts say.
After news reports came out on Tuesday about the decision to eliminate Planned Parenthood grants, Komen was slow to respond, “They just went dark and were silent at the height of the crisis,” Ms. Miller says. She says that she counted 80 Twitter comments criticizing Komen for every comment supporting the organization’s new policy.
The controversy has been a fundraising bonanza for Planned Parenthood. In just four days, Planned Parenthood raised nearly $3-million, more than enough to cover the $500,000 to $700,000 it has received annually from Komen. Many of the 10,000 donors who gave in the last few days had never previously supported the charity.
News reports say Komen has raised more money, too, but repeated calls from The Chronicle to the charity were not returned.