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Early detection is a key to survival. When breast cancer is detected early, before it spreads beyond the breast, the 5-year survival rate is 98 percent. Once the cancer spreads to other parts of the body, survival rates plummet to just 23 percent. If access for underserved women is reduced, women who have cancer will eventually have to be treated for late-stage cancers that are deadlier and much more expensive to treat — putting an even greater strain on the health system and on state budgets. Breast cancer can be five times more expensive to treat when it has spread to other parts of the body.”
--(Susan G. Komen for the Cure website)

These words are deeply compelling. The goals of the Susan G. Komen Foundation resonate because someone in our sphere—family member, colleague, friend, acquaintance, perhaps ourselves, have had their life turned upside down and inside out by this deadly disease.

The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), which has 26,000+ member and 171 chapters worldwide, works

“to advance philanthropy through advocacy, research, education, and certification programs. The Association fosters development and growth of fundraising professionals and promotes high ethical standards in the fundraising profession.”

AFP has recognized the Susan G. Komen Foundation for its “comprehensive approach to breast cancer issues, including its tremendous communications, public education and fundraising activities.” (

AFP also has what it calls a donor “Bill of Rights,” to which all fundraising professionals and organizations should adhere. The Susan G. Komen Foundation itself recruits fundraising staff who adhere to this Bill of rights,

“Development activities will be conducted in an ethical and legal manner reflective of the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ code of ethics.”

AFP declares that all donors have these rights,

“To ensure that philanthropy merits the respect and trust of the general public, and that donors and prospective donors can have full confidence in the not-for-profit organizations and causes they are asked to support…”

Here is a link to all ten tenets, (, but the one that I draw attention to is #1:
“To be informed of the organization’s mission, of the way the organization intends to use donated resources, and of its capacity to use donations effectively for their intended purposes.”

Given the recent circumstances involving the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s decision to target Planned Parenthood for de-funding, despite that organization’s longstanding commitment to providing women’s health services, including cancer screenings, I believe that the Foundation has violated the AFP’s donor Bill of Rights. Because donors were not informed of the Foundation’s shift from an apolitical entity dedicated to women’s health to one that is now politically influenced/motivated, I believe that donors to the Susan G. Komen Foundation are well within their “donor rights” to request a refund of their 2011-2012 contributions and cancel current-year pledging. If the Foundation hasn’t also migrated from its commitment to AFP principals, they should issue refunds. The refunds could then be used to support Planned Parenthood or other organizations that are truly dedicated to serving the health needs of every woman.

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