Melissa Berman, president of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors Inc., a nonprofit advisory service for donors, said that the recession still is hurting fundraising efforts by nonprofits but that wouldn't account for all the declines at Komen affiliates.

"It's taken a while for them to make it clear they are making a clean break from the past," Berman said. "It is not clear they've done enough to assure people there is new leadership and new perspective."

She pointed out that founder Nancy Brinker stepped down as CEO but still appears to play a prominent role in the organization.

Other nonprofits said fundraising has remained consistent despite the economy. The National MS Society Maryland Chapter said it's raised around $1 million annually for the last several years through its annual fundraiser walks. This year donations were down about 1 percent.

"Given the overall economic climate, that is solid," said Ellen Hannibal, the MS chapter's marketing manager.

Komen Maryland lost several major sponsors from last year, including Morgan State University's MBA program, which donated $10,000 previously, and Visa, which kicked in $30,000.

Morgan State said it pulled funding this year because of its own funding constraints and not because of anything Komen did.

"I still feel strongly about the support Komen provides women who are in need," said Ardenia Myrick, director of Morgan's MBA program.

Grocery chain Safeway is a longtime supporter of the Komen Maryland Race for the Cure and is donating $50,000 this year. It will have a booth at the event and give out free samples. Spokesman Greg Ten Eyck said Safeway was satisfied with Komen's decision to reverse its decision on Planned Parenthood.

"We think that they handled it properly and we continue to support the core of what they represent, which is to find a cure for breast cancer," he said.

A Komen national spokeswoman said that the Planned Parenthood incident hurt the organization, but there have been improvements. Some affiliates, such as the one in Charlotte, N.C., are meeting donation expectations, said spokeswoman Andrea Rader.

She said the organization will continue to remind people of the services they provide and the women they help.

"The further we move away from that incident and the more that we remind people of our impact locally, we are seeing people tend to come back," Rader said.

Crisis management experts said the organization could eventually regain its ground.

"I do think they will recover," said Rockefeller's Berman. "I think they will recover because although they did make an honest mistake, they also have many, many years of credibility behind them."

andrea.walker@baltsun.com

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