Thursday, February 02, 2012

How Planned Parenthood Created an Army

Graph from Planned Parenthood 2009-2010 annual report (link below)
 What an interesting couple of days this has been in the world of fundraising.

If you hadn't heard, Susan G Komen announced on Jan 31st that, due to a new policy they implemented, they have cut funding to Planned Parenthood that pays for breast exams and screenings, to the tune of $680,000. Their new policy was that they cannot fund organizations that are under federal investigation. Guess what, Planned Parenthood is pretty much ALWAYS under investigation, thanks to one of the services they provide to their clients.

Within 24 hours, Planned Parenthood sent an email out to their supporters, asking for their assistance to fill this sudden and unplanned-for gap in funding, so they can continue to provide breast cancer screening to low-income women.

The public's first response was surprise: You mean Planned Parenthood doesn't just abort babies?

Once we all were educated that Planned Parenthood provides many more services than abortion, the collective public became outraged. How could Komen, the leader and most well-known breast cancer brand in the world, choose to cut funding to those who can least afford it? Doesn't this go against Komen's mission?

This blogger did a better job of summarizing what happened than I can; read more of it at the Nonprofit Marketing Guide blog.

The backlash in social media has been immediate and loud. Shame on Komen -- support Planned Parenthood!

Within 24 hours Planned Parenthood had an army of advocates speaking out on their behalf on the social media spectrum, standing up for them and making their voices heard. Within 24 hours after Planned Parenthood's cry for help, the $680,000 gap caused by Komen's decision had almost completely filled by supporters who became donors. I suspect Planned Parenthood has a whole lot of brand new donors who have never given to them before.

The word from Komen's camp?


Finally after 2 days had passed, Komen's PR machine began to churn, with Facebook notes, tweets and a push via traditional media to make their voice heard on their change in policy. But at this point 75% of all social media buzz was against Komen and for Planned Parenthood; they have some work to do.

Here's the best part.

I began wondering, "Hmmm...what does $680,000 mean to Planned Parenthood anyway? How big of a gap IS this?"

The answer: Not very.

Planned Parenthood's latest annual report indicates that they receive hundreds of millions of dollars in charitable income, through individual donations, grants, program service revenue and other sources. Their net assets on their most recently filed 990 are $103 million, with gross receipts of $130 million.

Let's see...$680,000 into $130 million...that's .5% of all of their funding. Yes, that's a decimal point in front of that number. That's less than 1% of their total funding.

Wow. All this, over a dollar amount that they probably could've replaced just by asking some of their other sources for a couple more bucks.

But look at what they've done. They've brought over new advocates and supporters to their cause. They've educated the public as a whole as to their mission and how they fulfill it.

I am sure that the long-term impact is that Komen will never fund Planned Parenthood again. If I were Planned Parenthood I would say that that's no big loss, considering the amount of supporters they've gained in this debacle. And Komen is already under attack and has lost walkers and donors, just as they are ramping up in their marketing for the 3-day walks which take place all over the U.S. all summer long.


Well played, Planned Parenthood, well played.

*NOTE: As a disclaimer, I must remind readers that these views are my own and not that of my employer, former employer, husband, dog, great-aunt's second cousin once removed. Just me. Thanks.


  1. I shared your blog on my FB. It was too good not to share. I think it is funny that PP comes out looking like David vs Goliath (SGK) when they are in the top 200 charities in the nation too. This is a good article if you haven't seen it.
    So much for "all fundraising is local" The fact that 1 in every 7 dollars goes to the top 200 disproves the "all fundraising is local" mind set. People think (whether rightly or wrongly) that the big guys will be the most effective because they are the ones they see and know. At least that's my take on it...

  2. My backpack10:37 PM

    This post and our disagreement about PP aside, outstanding job raising your own children. You sound like a wonderful mother, and your daughters *really* look like you. Don't let them start drinking coffee at too young an age:), and keep them away from the misogynists.

    As for this post...

    On the one hand, we have an organization that is dedicated to fighting breast cancer.

    On the other hand we have an organization founded by a racist eugenics advocate, Margaret Sanger. This organization's current focus is on relieving society of unwanted tumors, also known as fetuses and a variety of other names including unborn children. The mothers of these tumors are overwhelmingly *not* white. Margaret Sanger would be proud.

    I wouldn't say "educated" as much as I'd say deceived. I wouldn't say "well played," either, unless you mean it in a jaded sense.

    I'd rather give my money to an organization that looks after women's health without harming the health of unborn children.

    Too bad such an organization doesn't exist.

    Or does it?

    It's not always a good sign if most everybody agrees with you.