Selfie-assuredness from Cancer Research

The #nomakeupselfie trend has taken – if not the world – then certainly your social media newsfeed by storm, writes Louise Harris senior account manager, Freshwater.

What started as a Facebook post made by 18 year old Fiona Cunningham, using the now ubiquitous hashtag in her bid to raise money following the death of a loved one, has since grown into one of the most successful Cancer Research fundraising initiatives ever.

The running total now stands at over £8million in just over a fortnight, with Cancer Research reporting over 800,000 text donations in the past seven days.

As the #nomakeupselfie trend goes global, debates have begun over the ideology of the initiative (Is it focused too heavily on the way women look? Are people donating for the ‘right reasons’?) but ultimately critics have found it hard to challenge a movement driven by women for the benefit of a respected charity.

The trend has undeniably captured people’s attention but what’s interesting is the way in which Cancer Research responded – and quickly.

While well-meaning, Ms Cunningham’s idea lacked the organisation of your traditional fundraising model and while the hashtag gathered momentum, there was little evidence of people actually donating alongside posting their bare-faced selfies.

People began asking whether the campaign was ‘official’ or ‘endorsed’ by Cancer Research and in what would have been a make or break moment for any fundraising campaign, the charity waded in.

Instead of distancing itself, Cancer Research worked with – not against – the emerging movement by taking to Facebook and using it to respond in kind to the comments. As we’ve seen, this was a masterstroke and one which has since seen the charity reap the fundraising rewards.

“In the past, charities have been guilty of acting defensively when groups or individuals take up various issues in a loosely affiliated way,” comments Louise.

“The #nomakeupselfie wasn’t a campaign of Cancer Research’s own doing but they reached out via social media to involve themselves in the debate and signpost fans of the trend towards more information about the charity and the ways to text donate nonetheless.”

Following their intervention, many of the #nomakeupselfie posts began including the text donate instructions and screen grabs of their own donations – proving to detractors that true fundraising was taking place.

In many of its posts since, Cancer Research has been seen to pat supporters on the back while acknowledging that although the campaign wasn’t theirs, they supported the idea nonetheless.

“The campaign and Cancer Research’s reaction to it has demonstrated how large charities can endorse and benefit from decentralised fundraising on social media without fear of losing control of ‘their’ issues or messages,” continues Louise.

“To date there have been no stuffy statements from Cancer Research distancing themselves from the idea or refusing to endorse it, just uplifting snap shots of its team of researchers giving personal thanks and updates to the thousands of women who had the bare faced cheek to post a pic without makeup to their Twitter or Facebook.”

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