OPINION – Breast Cancer Awareness Month has descended upon Southern Utah and the entire county seems to be adorned in pink; from the sea of pink clothing to the pink DIXIE letters that glow on the hillside. Maybe the text of this article should be in pink as well. The community support is incredible and I applaud anyone who engages in helping, in any capacity, those in need.
But I have to ask, is it just good public relations or is it really helping the cause?
The Susan G. Komen Foundation is a well-known worldwide charity that has demonstrated the most effective marketing campaign in the history of philanthropy. It started with a simple message and a pink ribbon in 1982, and endeavored to accomplish great things. They have done amazing things to spread awareness and education.
Major corporations, though, are jumping on the pink bandwagon in droves to peddle their wares and the foundation has supported this “corporatization” of their cause. From pretzels to automobiles, companies are cashing in on our good-hearted intentions to help. Companies are quickly realizing that slapping a pink ribbon on a product can not only increase profits but also encourage a more appealing reputation in the market place.
Yoplait yogurt, a product of General Mills, is a perfect example. For each yogurt lid sent back to the company, Yoplait gives just 10 cents to the foundation. If the average person consumed three yogurts a day for four months (the duration of the campaign) and sent in all of those lids, about $36.00 would actually go to the foundation and only a small portion of that would go to research. Yoplait on the other hand, is reigning in the profits from total sales.
Most people would be shocked to find out that in 2011, the Susan G. Komen Foundation took in almost half a billion dollars and less than 20 percent actually went to research for a cure. An additional 20-30 percent of their revenue went to education and awareness and the remaining amount went to salaries, stamps, marketing and fundraising efforts, to name a few. In fact, they spent more money on fundraising efforts than what they actually gave to research. Founder and former CEO Nancy J. Brinker reportedly received a paycheck of well over $500,000 annually and other key employees receive well over $200,000 in salaries as well.
Are these high salaries necessary?
Is the “Race for a Cure” really a “Race for Profit” now that any company can attach itself to the organization if they give a “portion” of their profits to the cause, even if it is merely a penny?
Consumers may buy a “pink” product and think they are doing more good than they are actually doing to help those in need. The companies benefit but it seems the victims of breast cancer are being short-changed. Would people give more to research if they knew their purchase of most “pink” products did little to find a cure?
Throwing more dollars at the problem may not ever result in a cure. We have no way of knowing. But, can we do more?
Foundations like Susan G. Komen need to reduce their over-inflated salaries, their high marketing budgets and their administration costs so that they can spend more on research.
Writing a check to a research company would ensure that 100 percent of funds given would go to research. Sending money to a local breast cancer charity would certainly enable transparency of funds and help our local citizenry. Instead of waiting for the meager 10 cents to work its way down the corporation “profit conveyor belt,” it may be better to help a family directly to offset their medical bills.
We can also give our time and talents to organizations to help reduce administration costs if giving money isn’t an option.
There are wonderful, local organizations that give all or most of the money to the cause they represent. Attending local walks, events and fundraisers to help our local residents would ensure that your donations were going to aid the families in need.
We can start with being aware of the disease, but we also need to be aware of how charitable donations are allocated.
To the many warrior women who are valiantly fighting against breast cancer, we hope for a cure and encourage all to give as much as they can to help in the cause. I hope that the sea of “pink” support that has blanketed our city can lift your spirits and donations will reach the entities that can benefit you the most.
Kate Dalley is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives morning show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are hers and not necessarily representative of St. George News.
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