I have been watching the recent decision by the Komen Foundation with some interest, as have numerous others. I see a fantastic case study developing regarding stakeholder resistance, and the predicament in which nonprofits can find themselves. More than the reasons behind why the decision to stop providing funds to Planned Parenthood (which took up a lot of the discussion on at least one Sunday morning talking-heads show), what interests me is 1) how initial stakeholder resistance (and the use of social media to spread and bond together) caused the Komen Foundation to re-assess and change its earlier decisions, and 2) how the decision to overturn the original decision has caused a move by a different stakeholder group (although without as much fanfare to date), which the Komen Foundation will now have to address.
In an environment where nonprofits of all sizes (albeit this is more prominent in larger organizations) are face with what had been termed “Multiple Accountability Disorder” or MAD, governance has become extremely complex. In this case, satisfying one group of stakeholders to dissuade them from investing their resources elsewhere directly counteracts another group of stakeholders who are calling for their supporters to stop supporting Komen, both financially and by boycotting their “Race for the Cure” events. Stuck in the middle of this are the millions of women who are helped every year – by both the financial grants awarded by the Komen Foundation as well as those who are able to obtain women’s health screening and services through Planned Parenthood – who are seeking to avail themselves of low-cost health care to stay healthy or to determine if there is a problem and they need to seek further medical treatment.
As a disclaimer, I have to reveal that Planned Parenthood was once my primary (and only) medical provider. When I was working in the hospitality industry I did not have the option to purchase health insurance through my employers, and as most people who work in the industry can attest to, the cost of purchasing health insurance on my own way beyond my financial means. Planned parenthood provided me with my annual check-ups and birth control on a sliding scale fee structure, and I am extremely grateful for that nonprofit’s services.
I know I am not alone in greatly appreciating the services the organization provided me. Still, I understand where both stakeholder groups are coming from, and it is up to Komen to decide to deal with this and which direction it wants to take the organization in the future. Indeed, I think this will be an excellent case study for my UNF Nonprofit Management class tonight.