The Undeniable Impact of Social Media on Susan G. Komen, Planned Parenthood, and All Nonprofits

Written by admin   // February 9, 2012   // 0 Comments

Immediate and fierce Twitter and Facebook backlash causes Susan G. Komen to reverse decision to defund Planned Parenthood.
Houston (February 8, 2012) – Susan G. Komen’s race to cure the organization’s battered public image is on. For a little over a week, the organization has been losing a public battle in the court of public opinion regarding their initial decision barring Planned Parenthood from applying for future grants due to an ongoing investigation and then their swift reversal.
The timeline of events follows:
April 2011- Karen Handel, who recently lost the Georgia governor race, was hired by Susan G. Komen as senior vice president for public policy. Handel describes herself on Twitter headlines as a “Lifelong Conservative Republican formerly Georgia’s first Republican Secretary of State.” During her campaign, she mentioned in interviews her being pro-choice and not supporting Planned Parenthood.
September 29, 2011- Republican Rep. Cliff Stearns notifies Planned Parenthood of a Congressional investigation into whether the group has illegally funded abortions with federal money
January 31, 2012- News breaks that Komen’s new grant policies bar the organization from funding groups under investigation. They announce that they will defund Planned Parenthood. A pro-life vs. pro-choice debate immediately begins on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and the blogsphere as well as sentiment that SGK’s decision will negatively impact low-income and minority women. They point to the organizations continued funding of Penn State, currently under investigation, as proof of SGK playing politics. Many long-time supporters of SGK stae that they will no longer give to the charity or will opt to give to Planned Parenthood funds normally given to SGK.
February 1, 2012- Planned Parenthood announced that they raised over $650,000 in 24 hours from more than 6000 donors. The organization normally received 100-200 donations per day.
February 2, 2012- The SGK website was hacked at 12:30 AM EST to read “Help us run over poor women on our way to the bank”. Later that day, circulates an image, supposedly a screen shot of Karen Handel’s Twitter profile, in which she retweets the following message from user @JadeMorey “Just like a pro-abortion group to turn a cancer orgs decision into a political bomb to throw. Cry me a freaking river.”
February 3, 2012- The Komen Foundation reverses their decision and states that only those under “criminal investigation” will be barred. Planned Parenthood can now apply for grants again. Pro-life supporters of the original decision take to Facebook and Twitter to express their anger at the decision.
February 7, 2012- Karen Handel resigns.
Crystal Washington, a recognized expert on strategic social media, made the following statement. “I doubt that Susan G. Komen will ever have the level of recognition and respect that it once enjoyed due to social media. They obviously did not consider how their decision would look to their supporters. Social media has completely changed how businesses and nonprofits roll out changes. In this case, the overwhelmingly negative attention, politisizing of the decision and, most importantly, the obvious financial impact, meant that the organization had to take their online supporters’ threats seriously. Unfortunately, in the course of this policy decision, the conversation, online at least, because a pro-life vs. pro-choice debate. When the decision was refersed, Komen left their pro-life supporters feeling as though they had been abandoned.”
About Crystal Washington
Crystal Washington is a marketing strategist, social-media consultant, keynote speaker, the owner of a Houston-based marketing firm and co-creator of Socialtunities, a social media instruction brand. Crystal teaches professionals, ranging from Gen Y’s to Baby Boomers, how to leverage technology effectively and efficiently. Crystal was named one of the Top 25 Women in Houston in 2011, received the Evolving Eve Award from Houston Women Magazine in 2010 and has appeared in Black Enterprise Magazine, Black MBA Magazine and She has appeared on ABC, NBC and CBS and has been interviewed, as a social media expert, by numerous radio stations and magazines in the United States and Ghana on the effects of social media on global politics as well as social media for job search, entrepreneurship and management professionals. For more details, visit

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