It's been nine months since a controversial funding decision rocked one of the best-known groups fighting breast cancer. A Susan G. Koman Foundation chapter in Wisconsin says public fundraising so far is flat, however corporate sponsorship is up.
Last February the Susan G. Komen Foundation decided to pull funding for Planned Parenthood. The decision was quickly reversed after a nationwide backlash. But, local affiliates were concerned about long lasting effects. The biggest fundraiser for Susan G. Komen is the Race for the Cure. In southeast Wisconsin, the race was held in September. Komen executive director Nikki Panico says registrations were down 10 percent.
"We are still getting checks in so it's a little too early to see how everything shakes out but we think we'll be not too far from where we were last year," she says.
Partly, Panico says, because corporate sponsorship of Susan G. Komen is up. Michelle Heitzinger is the Executive Director of the South Central Wisconsin affiliate. She says the fiscal year won't end until March 31st, but so far fundraising is flat.
"These have been tough economic times and I think its taken a couple of years to actually feel it here," she says. "A lot of our sister affiliates around the country saw that happening sooner than we did. And clearly with having had a governor's recall election here and the regular election we just knew people 's discretionary income wasn't going to be there. Plus with the economic downturn, all nonprofits have been feeling that."
In Wisconsin, Susan G. Komen supports cancer research at the University of Wisconsin. The Foundation also helps pay for breast cancer screening and treatment for low-income women through Wisconsin's Well Woman program.