by Max Brantley
The decision by Susan Komen for the Cure to end financial support of breast screening by Planned Parenthood was a public relations disaster for the organization. Many women didn't like it. The decision has supposedly been set aside and the officer responsible for it, an anti-abortion Georgia politician, has left Komen.
It is now left to local affiliates to try to clean up and make amends with once-fervent supporters. Susan G. Komen for the Cure Arkansas is among those at work on rehabilitation, with the letter below to its past supporters expressing regret for "an error in judgment at our national office." The Arkansas group has never made grants to Planned Parenthood, however.
The letter from Sherrye McBryde, the Arkansas affiliate's executive director, follows:
As you are aware, the Susan G. Komen Foundation recently found itself in a political firestorm due to an error in judgment at our national office. Leadership apologized and amended their decision, but the reputation the organization has earned through 30 years of hard work has been tarnished.
Here in Arkansas, we wanted to reach out about this subject. We, along with you, watched in disbelief and sadness as the focus on Komen shifted away from our long-standing mission to a highly-charged political issue. Please accept my personal apology and that of our Board of Directors for this breach of your trust.
We want to reassure you that our mission has not changed, nor has the commitment of the Arkansas Affiliate to that mission. We are here to make certain that the uninsured and under-served women of Arkansas get the vital services they need for breast health. Please understand that no part of our mission is, has been, or ever will be politically driven.
Komen Arkansas volunteers have worked tirelessly for the past 20 years to increase awareness, screening, treatment and research for the cure. We take pride in the size of our race because the funds it raises save our neighbors' lives.
Komen has an unparalleled track record of stewardship and fiscal responsibility. No other organization funnels so much of its funding dollars back into the communities where it was raised. To dispel wrong information and to help you gain an understanding of our fiscal rules and granting, there is information immediately below this email.
This has been hard for me personally. An organization I believe in and work hard for, has opened itself up to controversy and misinterpretation. But the main reason this has been so very hard is the women who need our help may not have the same opportunity for Komen support they have had in the past.
And so, I humbly ask you to look at our good works and judge for yourself our commitment to our mission. I also ask you to continue to support the women of Arkansas through our Race for the Cure and our Affiliate activities.
We want to focus on our mission and continue our vital work. Many of you have reached out to show your support and for that we are forever grateful.
With friendship and strength of purpose,
Sherrye McBryde, Executive Director Arkansas Affiliate
McBryde also included information about fund-raising and grant procedures:
The Arkansas Affiliate abides by two fiscal rules (as do all 120 affiliates):
Rule 1 - Administrative costs must be kept below 25%. The Arkansas Affiliate keeps our expenses at 22%. Almost 80 cents of every dollar is used for mission (awareness, screening, treatment and research).
Rule 2 - Of the funds raised, we send 25% to Komen National for research grants. No Arkansas money pays national overhead, such as salaries. (They have separate revenue sources.) Every cent of Arkansas money is put toward finding a cure for breast cancer through research grants. (Our own Dr. Suzanne Klimberg is part of a $4.5 million Komen research grant awarded two years ago to fund breast cancer research here at UAMS)
We then spend the remaining 75% of the money we raise for awareness, screening and treatment in our service area (63 of the 75 counties in Arkansas) mostly in the form of grants.
Granting criteria for the Arkansas Affiliate
The Arkansas Affiliate will give out new grants as of 4/1/2012 totalling approximately $1.3 million. Our grant contribution in Arkansas since 1994 will then total $12.3 million. The Arkansas Affiliate contribution toward breast cancer research is $4.2 million. And we can show success - we are now able to say that a woman diagnosed with breast cancer early while still in Stage I has a 98% survival rate at five years. We have come a long way.
Here is the link to our current list of grantees for fiscal year ending 3/30/2012 which total $1,227,461.
Grant distribution is based on our community profile and is focused in areas with the greatest breast health needs. All Affiliate grant decisions are made at the local level by an Affiliate Grants Committee after independent reviewers (doctors, nurses, survivors etc.) have scored and ranked the grants. We provide mammograms to many women unable to afford one. We also fund mobile mammography so women in the rural areas have access. We know through these grants we are saving lives.