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GW004:Susan G Komen with Oliver Freund

Susan G Komen


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After the US government, Susan G. Komen is the largest supporter of breast cancer, globally.

Komen initiated Race for the Cure, at a time when 5k races weren’t common in the non-profit sector. People identify Komen by its trademark races – they are the world’s largest fundraising events for breast cancer.

In 2014, Komen will have 13 international races in 8 countries. The organisation has raised over $2 billion through what is the world’s largest fundraising event for breast cancer.

Today’s guest is Oliver Freund, Director of Operations at Susan G. Komen, Los Angeles County Affiliate. In 2010, after studying business and public relations, Freund found home at Komen, whose grassroots culture resonated with him.

The race might be Komen’s greatest event, but Freund is much prouder of every task that is undertaking from the mission’s perspective.


~ Operations like a Federation – Although Komen is a huge organization, its operations are segmented. Each affiliate controls a certain area in the State. Freund shares Komen’s method of working. With division of labour, extensive planning and research, efficiency is at its higest!

~ ‘Prevention is Better than Cure’ – Breast cancer, when caught early, is 98% curable. The later the diagnosis, the harder it is to cure.Oliver Freund talks about his work in the LA County area. What are the statistics? How does Komen decide their course of action?

~ The Pink Ribbon – It was created to establish a common rallying cry, and has evolved through the years. The ribbon now looks like a figure that is running. We are running towards finding a solution for breast cancer.

~ Understanding Who You Serve – Breast cancer looks different in different places. At Komen, Freund is most proud of each affiliate having the autonomy to truly serve the community in a way that will change statistics.

~ Is Passion Enough? – Business acumen is necessary in the non-profit sector. It is necessary to be transparent, it is necessary to be professional. Oliver Freund talks about the determinants of success for new age non-profits (and the relevance of Facebook).

~ Networking,  24/7 – Hit the phones – build connections with local businesses. Cause-related marketing is now a core aspect for many businesses. The nature of donations has changed – from transaction to investment. It is every NGO’s responsibility to bridge the gap between the organisation and their investors.

~ What Makes Komen Komen? – Brand recognition, customer service, and accessibility – Freund shares the “X factor” that allows Susan G. Komen to partner with businesses, and enlarge their family.

~ From Solicitation to Invitation – Instead of asking for something with your hand out, ask them to JOIN you in your effort.

~ Structure, Vision and Direction: Why Clear Communication Works  – Most small non-profits that have their goals written down, can allow all their supporters – from contractors to interns, to really maximize their work by understanding what the mission is and what is expected of them.

~ Smart Goals: What is going to yield the greatest results? – With an unlimited pool of activities, but a limited pool of resources, it is imperative for small businesses to select critical targets that can be accomplished in the desired time span, in an efficient manner.


Oliver Freund believes in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. He believes that in this day and age, everyone should volunteer and contribute to something that they are passionate about, to achieve self fulfillment.

Self giving allows us to express ourselves. For Freund, working with Komen means being a part of something larger than himself. It means that people from diverse ways of life are rallying around a single cause.

The feeling is overwhelming. It’s what he lives for.


Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

The Power of Nice: How to Negotiate So Everyone Wins – Especially You by Ronald Shapiro



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