Cancer Charity CEO making $684,000 a year as Less than 20% of Donations go to Research

Cancer charity fraud

While the country’s largest breast cancer charity, Susan G. Komen, announced it was cancelling half its 3-day races nationwide next year, CEO Nancy Brinker’s compensation package has increased considerably in the past two years.


And at $684,000, the pay itself is enough to raise eyebrows,  not to mention Brinker’s 2012 announcement she would be stepping down as Komen CEO.

Her announcement came in August in the wake of the early 2012 controversy over the charity’s short-lived decision to pull funding from Planned Parenthood to provide breast cancer screenings. Brinker has remained listed as the organization’s CEO in the ten months since.

According to NBC News, Brinker has received a 64 percent raise since 2010 despite a steep drop in donations made to the organizations and in participation in Komen’s signature races nationwide.

Komen says Brinker’s raise came prior to last year’s defunding debacle.

Komen spokesperson Andrea Rader told NBC News Brinker ‘did not receive a pay increase in 2011 and did not accept one in 2012, nor will she receive one in 2013.

‘Our CEO pay reflects the comprehensive and global nature of our work,’ Rader continued.  ‘We’re active in breast cancer programs in 30 countries.’

The Daily Beast reported last week that Brinker took the raise in November of 2010, before which she took in $417,000 per year.

Despite the reach of the charity she founded, Brinker’s pay may not be in be in synch with its revenue.

Pound for pound, hers outweighs CEO pay at some of the largest American charities.

At United Way, listed as the largest charity in the U.S. by Forbes in terms of donations received, total revenue was over $4.1 billion as of October 2012. Charity Navigator, a website billed as ‘Your guide to intelligent giving,’ lists United Way CEO Brian A. Gallagher’s pay as $763,394.

Charity Navigator lists the pay of Vicki Escarra, CEO of Forbes’ #4 charity Feeding America,—which had a revenue of $1.2 billion as of October 2012—at about $408,000.

Meanwhile, Susan G Komen for the Cure is listed at #40 by Forbes in terms of donations and had $327 million in revenue as of October. Though her organization brings in about a third of that raised by Feeding America, Brinker makes hundreds of thousands more than the Chicago-based charity’s head honcho.

‘This pay package is way outside the norm,’ Charity Navigator’s CEO Ken Berger told NBC. ‘It’s about a quarter of a million dollars more than what we see for charities of this size,

‘This is more than the head of the Red Cross is making for an organization that is one-tenth the size of the Red Cross.’


Berger’s site lists American Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern’s pay at just over $500,000.

More in line with her pay are Brinker’s reportedly lavish lifestyle and taste.

In 2012, a Daily Beast report titled ‘Nancy Brinker: A Socialite, a Scandal, and a Mysterious Expense Report’ questioned Brinker’s previous earnings (which the report listed as ‘over $400,000 at Komen) in light of a huge expense bill she sent the organization.

According to the report, ‘Brinker billed the foundation for $133,507 in expenses from June 2007 to January 2009, according to her filings with the U.S. Office of Government Ethics.’

Over that  time period, Brinker was doing more than working at Komen, however.

Under George W. Bush, Brinker was the Chief of Protocol for the U.S. State Department, a full-time position.

Brinker–who was also ambassador to Hungary from 2001 to 2003–returned to full-time work as Komen CEO at the conclusion of her time with the White House, at which point some of her employees said things began to change.

‘It was like suddenly she expected someone to carry her purse,’ said one Daily Beast source for the 2012 report, which sourced from ‘a half-dozen former Komen employees who held a range of jobs at the charity.’

‘An imposing figure who flies first class, prefers five-star hotels, and generally exhibits an entitled air…Employees don’t call her “Nancy,”’ said the sources, ‘They are expected to call her “Ambassador Brinker.”’

Brinker started the Susan G. Komen foundation at the start of the 1980s to honor her sister, who lost her battle with breast cancer and for whom the organization is named.

In her personal biography on the Komen website, Brinker credits ex-husband Norman Brinker for her ability to grow the company so successfully.

Norman Brinker, who Nancy calls ‘a brilliant entrepreneur who mentored and encouraged me’ made millions as founder of Brinker International, a pioneer in casual dining that housed such restaurants as Chili’s, Maggiano’s, and Bennigan’s.

Nancy Brinker, a resident of posh Palm Beach, Florida, divorced the man who America can thank for the now-ubiquitous salad bar in 2003, but the two remained business allies until his death in 2009.

Previously held in 14 cities, the 3-day walk, billed on its Facebook page as ‘a 3 day, 60-mile walk for women and men who want to make a personal difference in the fight against breast cancer,’ will be held nationwide as planned in 2013.

However, the event has been cancelled in 7 of those cities for 2014 and Komen blames a drop in participation.

Via the Facebook page:

‘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…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.’

The race will continue as planned in Atlanta, Dallas/Fort Worth, Michigan, Philadelphia, San Diego, Seattle and the Twin Cities.

As participation and donations to the Dallas, Texas-based charity flag—whether due to economic troubles or anger over the 2012 Planned Parenthood controversy or some other reason—Berger says news of Brinker’s salary will only make matters worse for Komen.

‘When donors realize that her salary is so high and so out of comparison to what it normally would be,’ he told NBC, ‘I am certain there are going to be some donors who are no longer going to support this organization because they have lost trust in its decision-making.’

Lisa Bonchek Adams, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006 and has raised over $20,000 for Komen through her participation in races and other events, also believes Brinker, and not poor participation, is the organization’s problem.

‘If Nancy Brinker were smart, she’d say, “Gee, I took $685,000 in salary last year. Whatever we need to make these events go on, how about I give up my salary for a year,”‘ Adams told the Daily Beast. ‘She is their biggest liability.’