(Photo: Reuters/Joshua Roberts)
The Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation, one of the country's most well-known breast cancer research charities, recently announced that it will be canceling its trademark Washington, D.C., three-day "Race for the Cure" fundraiser, along with walks in six other cities in 2014.
The charity, which suffered public criticism last year for its decision to defund Planned Parenthood and for reversing that decision, has indicated that "economic uncertainty" is the reason the organization has chosen to cancel seven fundraiser walks.
"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," the Dallas-based group said in a statement.
"Economic uncertainty over the past four years have presented challenges for all nonprofits, and have affected participation levels for the 3-Day as well. Many participants have reported that enthusiasm for the series remains very high, but it is more difficult for people to donate at levels they had in the past."
The foundation said it hopes to "one day" return to a "larger number of markets, but believe strongly that this adjustment will allow us to return the greatest amount of dollars to the cause at this time."
The organization has canceled fundraising walks in Tampa Bay, Washington, D.C., Phoenix, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, and San Francisco, saying that the current "economic uncertainty" makes it difficult to "sustain an event of this magnitude in 14 cities."
The event will still come to seven other cities in 2014, and it still plans on holding all of its walks for 2013.
A spokeswoman for the organization told Reuters that the participation in the group's three-day walks has declined by 37 percent over the past four years, although she reportedly did not specify whether this figure relates to participants or the amount of money raised.
According to The Washington Post, each participant in the three-day walk is expected to raise $2,300, and they walk about 20 miles per day.
The group's signature fundraiser walks are reportedly a source of high revenue but are also expensive to coordinate.
The charity has long heralded itself as the major non-government fundraiser for breast cancer research in the U.S., saying on its official website that "thanks to events like the Komen Race for the Cure, we have invested almost $2 billion to fulfill our promise, working to end breast cancer in the U.S. and throughout the world through ground-breaking research, community health outreach, advocacy and programs in more than 50 countries."
The organization suffered major publicity backlash in January 2012 after announcing that it would be cutting grant ties with abortion provider Planned Parenthood.
Although some groups accused the Komen foundation of cutting ties with Planned Parenthood due to a political, pro-life agenda, the charity argued that it defunded the abortion provider due to a new set of guidelines which barred grants to organizations that are under investigation by local, state or federal authorities.
At the time, Planned Parenthood was under an investigation launched by Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) to see if the nonprofit was improperly using public money for abortion services.
Nancy G. Brinker, the CEO and founder of Susan G. Komen, also said it would favor institutions and clinics that provide mammograms over those clinics and institutions that simply provide referrals to gynecologists. Planned Parenthood clinics provide breast health education and screenings but do not offer mammograms, only referrals for them.
Within hours of the defunding announcement, Planned Parenthood received more than $400,000 in donations from other donors, and days later the Komen board of directors announced that it had reversed its decision to defund Planned Parenthood, clarifying that it would only defund organizations undergoing criminal investigations, rather than political. This reversal disappointed pro-life groups which argued that the foundation bowed to political pressure.
"We want to apologize to the American public for recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women's lives. The events of this week have been deeply unsettling for our supporters, partners and friends and all of us at Susan G. Komen," Brinker said in a statement.
Recently, several executives at the organization have announced their decision to leave, including British Robinson, the organization's top fundraiser, and Vice President of Development Julie Teer, among others.
It has not been confirmed, however, that the decision of some of the top executives to depart the organization was due to the Planned Parenthood incident.
Karen Handel, former vice president at the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation, released a book titled Planned Bullyhood which reportedly details how Planned Parenthood bullied the Komen foundation into rescinding their policy of defunding the abortion provider.