The Seattle affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure fell $700,000 short of its fundraising goal during Sunday’s Race for the Cure, as fall out appeared to continue from the breast cancer nonprofit’s attempt earlier this year to pull funding from Planned Parenthood.
Komen Puget Sound had hoped to raise $1.8 million during this month’s race, but ended up with $1.1 million. This was $500,000 less than what was raised in 2011. In addition, attendance was down to 8,500 after attracting 13,000 walkers and runners last year – a drop of 35 percent.
The results were disappointing, but not totally unexpected, according to Jim Clune, communications manager at Komen Puget Sound. “Across the country, Komen programs are being impacted by the national decision that was reversed,” he said. “I think people don’t distinguish between local affiliates and the national agency, and are taking their anger out on them.”
There have been other Komen events that have seen a similar downward trend. Registrations dropped from 40,000 in 2011 to around 25,000 this year, a decline of nearly 40 percent, for The Race for the Cure in Washington, D.C. Organizers for the race said that the decline was partly in due to the poor economy, though a Komen spokeswoman acknowledged the Planned Parenthood flap played a role as well.
The Seattle affiliate spoke out strongly against Komen’s initial plan to cut off grants to Planned Parenthood – a decision that was reversed after massive public backlash. Komen Puget Sound’s board voted unanimously against the national agency’s decision, and has worked hard to reinforce its commitment to Planned Parenthood. Clune noted that they have worked with the organization for 10 years, giving it $500,000 towards breast cancer awareness, education, and screenings.
The decline in funds has an impact for Komen Puget Sound on a number of levels. Clune said that 75 percent of the money raised goes to local grants that provide breast cancer education, mammograms, and treatment support for low income women. The other 25 percent goes toward global research. The Seattle affiliate is also the only local organization that is 100 percent dedicated toward finding a cure for breast cancer. No local donations go to the national organization.
“There’s a cost to [the decline in fundraising], and that’s 3,000 mammograms we can’t provide next year,” said Clune.
Despite the disappointing results from the Race for the Cure, Komen Puget Sound still has time to raise more money for the race. Donors can continue to give until July 12. Clune admits there is a long road ahead to win back community support.
“We’re going to need to do an effort to reach out to our local community and make them aware of the impact we have. Hopefully if we can get that message across people will give us the support we need.”