Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Komen CEO's Compensation Jumps as Contributions Drop

Ken Berger was on NBC's Today Show yesterday commenting on Nancy Brinker's (CEO of Susan G. Komen for the Cure) compensation which increased 64% last year to more than $684,000.  That level of compensation is significantly more than what similarly sized charities pay their top executives.

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Toni Goldfarb said...

I agree that Komen's CEO has made so many significant errors that a 64% salary increase is way out of line. However, I often disagree with Charity Navigator's failure to criticize other well known charities that award $500,000+ salaries to their CEOs. Although salaries at that level are common in profit-making businesses, I believe business CEOs who transfer to non-profits should not expect-- or receive--the same high salaries. If a business CEO is unwilling to accept a lower salary, perhaps s/he doesn't have the right attitude to be a charity leader.

Ken Berger said...


I agree with your points about nonprofit CEO compensation vs business CEOs. Furthermore, whenever I am asked by a reporter to speak out on these issues I do. So there is no "failure to criticize" other well known charities on my part. Trust me, I am getting plenty of heat from plenty of well known charities all the time and we have no bias in that regard. The crux of the matter I think is driven by (a) media attention to a particular group and (b) my not having the time to try to pressure the media to highlight others because we are up to our eyeballs in work on multiple fronts as it is! Remember that there are twelve of us here at Charity Navigator with a 1.2 million budget trying to monitor a 1.5 trillion dollar sector of our economy!


Anonymous said...


While you pointed out that Nancy Brinker makes a large salary, you failed to point out that she took no salary for many years. You also failed your readers by not telling them that the affiliates of Komen do not pay her salary. You have harmed those of us that are beating the streets as volunteers to raise money for our communities and our mothers, sisters and daughters. Her salary has increased but because of comments like yours, our donor dollars will decrease and the women we serve will not get that much needed mammogram or education to help them make an informed decision. Do better, Ken.

Ken Berger said...


To begin with, you falsely assume that I have ANY control over what NBC chooses to air on national television as well as the content of the questions they ask me. Nonetheless, a few particulars in response to your criticisms:

(A) I believe that whether or not Brinker took a salary before is irrelevant to the current circumstances and is no excuse for it.
(B) I believe whether or not the affiliates contribute to the salary is also irrelevant. She is the CEO of the national charity and what she and the national board does reflects on all parts of the organization including the affiliates.
(C) The harm you describe needs to be directed to the decision making of the national Board, not to me.

There are many wonderful organizations dedicated to the critically important mission of fighting breast cancer and providing critical services to those in need. Some donors may opt to redirect their dollars, not discontinue fighting for the cause they care about (as do I by the way). Furthermore, I suggest that you should be working to change the problem within Komen or break off from it, not shoot at the messenger.

Finally, I am always striving to "do better" as well as to listen to valid criticisms of my work and that of Charity Navigator. It is a core value of mine. However, in this case, I do not find anything to do better about. Yet I do appreciate your taking the time to offer your thoughts and hope we can dialogue again down the road.