Who owns pink ideas or cure slogans? Welcome to the Charity Brawl

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There may be just a few more important things to spend one’s time on in the field of breast cancer.

But the Wall Street Journal reports on an ugly dispute, “Charity Brawl: Nonprofits Aren’t So Generous When a Name’s at Stake.” Excerpts:

As the leading breast-cancer charity, Susan G. Komen For the Cure helped make “for the cure” a staple of the fund-raising vernacular.
The slogan is so popular that dozens of groups have sought to trademark names incorporating the phrase. Among them are “Juggling for a Cure,” “Bark for the Cure,” and “Blondes for the Cure.”

Komen sees this as imitation, and it’s not flattered. Instead, it’s launching a not-so-friendly legal battle against kite fliers, kayakers and dozens of other themed fund-raisers that it contends are poaching its name. And it’s sternly warning charities against dabbling with pink, its signature hue.

“It is startling to us that Komen thinks they own pink,” says Mary Ann Tighe, who tangled with the breast-cancer charity over the color for her “Kites for a Cure” lung-cancer fund-raiser. “We cannot allow ourselves to be bullied to no purpose.”

Screen shot 2010-08-05 at 2.08.54 PM.png Read some of the online comments following the WSJ story to see rising skepticism – even cynicism – among posters about non-profits and their missions.

Breast cancer advocacy doesn’t need this.

Breast cancer advocates should be trying to explain the tradeoffs involved in mammography screening, the tradeoffs involved in treatment decisions, the ramifications of health care reform legislation and involving themselves in many other pressing matters.

Otherwise all parties run the risk of hearing the public tell them all to go fly a kite.

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Sandi Pniauskas

August 9, 2010 at 9:27 am

Patients are not typically aware of ‘turf’ wars in charities, irrespective of ‘color’. Turf wars are typically thought of as issues between governments, professions etc but not usually associated with charities. Thus the importance of not only expert patients but an informed public.


August 11, 2010 at 3:32 pm

I think this is bad news for breast cancer advocacy. There’s clearly a quiet rumbling in breast cancer communities about pink-lash, pink burnout, and pink exhaustion. The divide in the BC communities will only get deeper as non-profits fall into pro-pink and anti-pink flanks. It’s sad that it’s come to this. Charity brawl indeed.

Nikki Statler

August 24, 2010 at 9:57 pm

Wow, are we really upset with Susan G Komen for branding themselves? Does anyone but me see that in doing so this they have become one of the most sought after and recognized charities in the country. Of course everyone wants to steel some of their thunder… Would any for profit company stand by and let people use their names for nonaffiliated efforts (they do have a reputation to uphold and should have the ability to oversee who uses their trademarks and tag lines). The answer is no. Well guess what, non profits don’t have to either.
I have had the opportunity to work with Susan G Komen and could not be more impressed with their level of respect, their desire to help and promote and the energy they put into their cause. If they have grown this to what it is…. shame on those who haven’t the guts, brains or the drive to put themselves ahead by coming up with their own identity and branding. I bet if someone who was not affiliated played off of healthnewsreview.org they wouldn’t be happy either. Lets focus on the good Komen for the cure provides.


January 25, 2011 at 7:05 am

I have a an ebay store. I have always donated 10% of my sales to the Susan G Komen foundation. Not anymore. I had been mislead to believe this money was going “for the cure” obviously it’s going for the court! The nerve of them to try to waste money that should go toward curing cancer. And even worse to drag money from other organization trying to help people in need, be it breast cancer, lung cancer, childhood diabetes, etc. How are these other organiztions to avoid using the word “cure” when attempting to get donations for a “cure”? I will find another foundation to donate to toward breast cancer research, but Susan G Komen needs to find a cure for their own asininity.