Folsom Lake College's Online Newspaper
by Jacob Peterson
In a perfect world, people would be able to help each other without having to worry about whether or not they’re signing up for some kind of scam. Unfortunately we don’t live in a perfect world, and the danger of fraudulent or questionable charity organizations has become a major problem in the last few years. Whether it’s relief for a war torn country or support for cancer patients, many charities have had some questionable activities going on behind closed doors.
One of the most prominent charity organizations to come under fire in recent years is the Susan G. Komen foundation. Focusing on breast cancer testing, treatment, and education, this charity brought in roughly 200 million dollars in revenue last year, and can be considered one of the largest charity organizations in America. But with this has come controversy as well.
Komen is known by many for their use pinkwashing. For those unfamiliar with the term, it essentially describes one of two 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, both of which Komen has been criticised for. It doesn’t help that their licensing of a proprietary trademark “Running Ribbon” logo and “for a cure” slogan have come under close scrutiny.
There have also been some questions about Komen’s finances. Having over 200 corporate sponsors, Susan G. Komen earns roughly 50 million from these partnerships. Criticism comes from the way the relationship between the two go, with many stating that the partnerships benefited the companies more than Komen and could be deceptive to customers. An example of this was the 2001 “Charge for a Cure” campaign held by American Express, which gave a donation whenever someone used their card. The problem was that, regardless of how much you charged, the donation was always limited to one penny. A person buying a new car would be contributing as much as someone buying a candy bar.
Another financial issue that brought the organization under the microscope was a controversy over the salary of former CEO Nancy Brinker. In the 2011-2012 fiscal year, Brinker’s salary was just short of 7 hundred thousand dollars, a 64% increase from the previous year. To give an idea at how much this is, the head of the Red Cross at the time, an organization several times larger than Susan G. Komen, didn’t even make this much money. Following the release of this information, Brinker was replaced as CEO by Doctor Judith Salerno.
Of course Susan G. Komen is not the only charity to have its issues. Some others include the Firefighters Charitable Foundation, who made over 7 million dollars in revenue last year, but less than 8% of it actually goes to the programs provided by the foundation. Another infamous charity is the Wishing Well Foundation USA, which has had issues with employees being incredibly rude to donors, while also having less than 5 % of their revenue going towards running their programs.
It’s unfortunate that people can’t just give to a cause and know that it’s going to the right place, but that’s just the world we live in. Fortunately, there are some organizations that watch these charities and provide people with information that they may not have been privy to before. The most famous of these would be Charity Navigator, which has operated for over 10 years and is one of the most trusted charity reviewers on the web.
FLC Main: FR-108