We’ve been discussing the long-term repercussions of crises lately and I have another one to add to the pile.
Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation put themselves head-first into a serious crisis early last year when they announced that they were going to stop funding grants to Planned Parenthood for cancer screenings. This announcement created an uproar for the cancer foundation and even after retracting their statement and nearly a year and a half later the self-induced crisis is still hurting both their reputation and their bottom line.
On June 3rd, the foundation posted the following announcement to their Facebook page:
As the Susan G. Komen 3-Day continues to evolve, next year will bring changes that will affect many members of our Komen 3-Day family. The 2014 Susan G. Komen 3-Day will return to Atlanta, Dallas/Fort Worth, Michigan, Philadelphia, San Diego, Seattle and the Twin Cities. However, we are saddened to share that the 3-Day will not be returning to the following markets in 2014: Arizona, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Tampa Bay, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. Please note the 2013 3-Day series will continue as planned.
We are in the process of notifying all of the 3-Day family about plans for 2014, but wanted to share this news with you all here, too. The difficult decision to exit these markets was not made lightly, as we know this bold and empowering event has touched the lives of thousands of participants like you. While the 3-Day has brought great awareness to the breast cancer cause, participation levels over the last four years have made it difficult to sustain an event of this magnitude in 14 cities.
So how do we know that this is a direct hit from the crisis they experienced last year? Because since early last year, their numbers, both in attendees/participants and funding have severely decreased. The Washington Post recently reported that:
On May 11, thousands of breast cancer survivors and their supporters gathered on the Mall in Washington, D.C. for the annual Susan G. Komen Global Race for the Cure, but attendance at the charity’s signature fundraising event was down for a second consecutive year.
About 21,000 people registered for that race, down from 27,000 last year and nearly 40,000 in 2011. Fundraising has also been down: The race generated $5 million in donations in 2011, according to Komen spokeswoman Andrea Rader, but generated $2 million last year.
This is just another example of the severe impact a crisis can have on a company or organization. When I say that a crisis risks having long-term repercussions I mean it! These numbers continue to decrease for Susan G Komen, more than a year later. A crisis is a serious thing. That’s why it’s called a crisis. And that’s why it’s important for your company or organization to:
- Prevent the preventable (a deeper look and evaluation into their decision would have triggered some red flags for Susan G Komen).
- Plan for the unpreventable with a crisis management and communications plan – and a big part of that plan needs to be social.
Let me conclude by asking you this: Is your company or organization prepared for the worst?
Author of Crisis Ready: Building an Invincible Brand in an Uncertain World, Melissa Agnes is a leading authority on crisis preparedness, reputation management, and brand protection. Agnes is a coveted keynote speaker, commentator, and advisor to some of today’s leading organizations faced with the greatest risks. Learn more about Melissa and her work here.