As many of our readers will already know, today is the day that Planned Parenthood Golden Gate officially loses its affiliation with Planned Parenthood's national body, meaning that all the clinics in San Francisco, Sonoma, Marin, Alameda and San Mateo that have Planned Parenthood signs on their doors have to take those signs down and call themselves something else. They'll still operate, but not under the tried and true brand-name that we all know and love. As newspaper and radio reports have detailed, de-affiliation from Planned Parenthood is a very rare and dramatic thing. A sort of "nuclear option" for troubled clinics. For us here at the Consortium, the imbroglio brings up some important issues, not least because one of our members is Planned Parenthood Shasta-Diablo, and we've received our fair share of calls asking how PPGG's saga has and will affect PPSD. Here are some of our thoughts on the matter: First, Planned Parenthood Golden Gate is not Planned Parenthood Shasta-Diablo. This may seem pretty self-evident, but we think it bears repeating because as perceived by the general public, Planned Parenthood is Planned Parenthood, period. The fact is, however, that Planned Parenthood affiliates operate as independent, self-contained nonprofit corporations. They share neither finances nor governance. The only things they share, actually, are their name and of course standards and protocols set out by the national office. The point here is that what happens to the (former) Planned Parenthood in Alameda or San Francisco does not directly affect Planned Parenthood Shasta-Diablo in Contra Costa or Solano. That said, it's clear that there are huge indirect effects. The foremost being that PPSD will likely be moving in to fill the new void in at least some of the counties. This is an important point - that even in this time of Medi-Cal payment delays and chronic under-funding of women's health programs, Planned Parenthood in Contra Costa/Solano is thriving. All this raises the issue of branding, and specifically brand loyalty among clients and patients. When the PPGG clinics make their name change, their patients will face a choice: to stay with a newly-named organization or to seek care elsewhere. When PPSD clinics open up in the same counties, that choice will be even more stark - stay with what was Planned Parenthood, or go to what is now Planned Parenthood. How much does that brand name matter? In our opinion, it matters quite a bit - it's the proverbial good housekeeping seal of approval, the thing that tells prospective clients that care provided here is high-quality and reliable. But client-provider relationships matter a ton, too. So it will be interesting to see the movement of patients in the wake of today's disaffiliation. Finally, just a note on the importance of nonprofit governance by boards of directors. There are many, many criteria that board members typically need to meet. Membership in the organization; fundraising prowess; political astuteness. But as the PPGG situation demonstrates, perhaps the most important is the ability to provide sound fiscal oversight. Nonprofits are, after all, corporations handing real money in often very real amounts. The need for hard-headed number-crunchers on nonprofit boards is no less than the need for them on the board of Starbucks or Apple Computer. In this, the revocation of PPGG's affiliation, grounded in financial troubles, serves as a strong warning for nonprofits everywhere.