IMPACT

Nancy Brinker's High Salary Angers Advocates After Komen Fundraising Drops, Charity Walks Canceled

06/10/2013 05:41 pm 17:41:46 | Updated Jun 10, 2013

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Breast cancer advocates are up in arms because the CEO of the Susan G. Komen Foundation is still taking home a hefty salary even after the nonprofit recently canceled a number of charity walks and fundraising has dropped.

Nancy Brinker, founder of Komen –- the largest breast cancer charity -- officially stepped down from her role as CEO in August in the aftermath of the Planned Parenthood debacle, but Brinker is still earning a whopping $684,000 a year. Experts say her salary is disproportionate to the organization’s size and advocates are disappointed that so many donor dollars are lining her pockets even as the nonprofit is scaling back on its fundraising efforts.

“This pay package is way outside the norm," Ken Berger, president and CEO of charity watchdog Charity Navigator told NBC. "It's about a quarter of a million dollars more than what we see for charities of this size. ... This is more than the head of the Red Cross is making for an organization that is one-tenth the size of the Red Cross.”

According to a study by Charity Navigator, the median charity’s chief executive officer’s compensation is $132,739.

The nonprofit told NBC that Brinker was given the raise in 2010, prior to the Planned Parenthood fallout and that she did not get an increase in pay in 2011 or 2012 and will not receive one this year either.

But breast cancer advocates remain upset about Brinker’s earning of $684,717 year -- a 64 percent from April 2010 to March 2011, according to the Dallas News.

In early 2012, the organization announced that it would cut grant funding to Planned Parenthood, causing a backlash from donors and abortion advocates. Though Komen reversed its decision, Brinker still stepped down from her post as CEO in August. Yet, the founder is still holding onto her role and her generous salary.

Advocates are particularly disgruntled since the charity announced Tuesday that it will be canceling seven fundraising walks next year in Phoenix, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Tampa Bay, San Francisco and Washington, Reuters reported. The three-day charity walks will continue in seven other cities.

“If Nancy Brinker were smart, she’d say, ‘Gee, I took $685,000 in salary last year. Whatever we need to make these events go on, how about I give up my salary for a year?’” Lisa Bonchek Adams, a breast cancer survivor who has raised more than $20,000 for Komen, told the Daily Beast.“If it’s really about the memory of her sister and she’s so devoted to the cause. She is their biggest liability.”

A Komen spokeswoman told Reuters that participation in the three-day walks declined by 37 percent in the past four years, but didn’t indicate if that was the number of participants or money raised. Each participant is obligated to raise at least $2,300 and walk about 60 miles.

A number of cities have missed their fundraising mark in the wake of the Planned Parenthood scandal.

In Seattle, for example, the Race for the Cure hoped to raise $1.8 million last year, but wound up with $1.1 million, a $500,000 drop from 2011. Attendance also declined 35 percent, according to The Nonprofit Times.

“Across the country, Komen programs are being impacted by the national decision that was reversed,” Jim Clune, communications manager at Komen Puget Sound, told the paper. “I think people don’t distinguish between local affiliates and the national agency, and are taking their anger out on them.”

While many advocates would like to see the CEO slash her salary and attribute the decline in fundraising to the Planned Parenthood fallout, Komen says the poor economy is more to blame than donors are willing to admit.

“Given the way the economy has been operating, this has just been harder for people to do,” spokeswoman Andrea Rader told the Daily Beast, of the challenges people face in raising funds for walks. “We thought it better to shrink the markets to seven and hopefully return to the other markets. An awful lot of nonprofits are finding that in this economy, the economy of the last few years, it’s getting more difficult to raise funds.”

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