Our Chief Executive, Baroness Delyth Morgan shares just how much of a difference the social media craze 'nomakeupselfie' made to supporting breast cancer research.

Monday 31 March 2014      Guest blog
The difference #nomakeupselfie made to breast cancer research

In a world where everyone is so busy and constantly on the go, it’s very rare that we get to stop and think about the things that are important to us. Last month, it was refreshing to see a campaign which cut through the noise and saw people come together to take action for a very worthy cause. 

The #nomakeupselfie phenomenon flipped the usual ‘selfie’ on its head and turned a fun, social media trend into an act of charitable giving. Just a few hours into the craze, cancer charities started receiving a burst of donations. A quick look online and it became clear that something remarkable was happening - a flurry of posts filling Facebook and Twitter were calling on people to post bare faced pictures of themselves and, crucially, to make donations to help fund research into cancer.

Many charities, including Breast Cancer Campaign, encouraged supporters of the craze to share SMS text donation numbers, and donations continued to spike. People were contacting us and visiting our website for more information. On Wednesday 19 March, for example, we saw more visitors to our website on that one day as we did for the whole of Breast Cancer Awareness month in October 2013.

At the time of writing, Breast Cancer Campaign has received over £180,000 in donations. This is a huge increase of what we receive on a daily basis and we’re so very grateful for everyone’s support.

The money raised by this campaign will make a huge difference and will help us to continue to fund life-saving research across the UK. For example, it could help to fund the first few years of a Breast Cancer Campaign fellowship, a prestigious grant which gives an individual scientist funding for a five year project, enabling them to accelerate their area of breast cancer research. Previous recipients of these fellowships include Dr James Flanagan, whose ground-breaking research into epigenetics suggests that the risk of developing breast cancer could be detected many decades in advance.

In fact, Dr Flanagan and his team were so overwhelmed the public were getting behind research like theirs, they posted their own ‘Oscars-style’ #nomakeupselfie (as seen in above) to show their thanks to everyone who donated.

The success of the campaign for cancer charities is undeniable, but there are critics who feel it doesn’t represent the reality that women going through cancer face. These feelings are understandable, although we do believe that it played an important role in raising awareness. Because of #nomakeupselfie, people of all ages are publically talking about cancer, sharing their experiences of the disease and discussing the signs and symptoms, and this in itself is incredibly valuable.

Breast cancer is still the most common form of cancer in the UK and this social media campaign has come at an important time for us. We believe we’re heading towards a future where breast cancer can be overcome and outlived, but to reach vital milestones we need the continued support of the public to carry on funding life-saving breast cancer research.

The #nomakeupselfie has created a huge momentum of support, let’s harness this and continue to raise as much money as we can to help all mothers, daughters and sisters diagnosed with breast cancer. By working together and raising money for research, we will find the cures and save more lives in the future.

Thank you so much to everyone who has taken part in this campaign. To show my personal thanks, I’ve posted my attempt at a #nomakeupselfie on my Twitter feed - follow me @delythjmorgan - although being someone who doesn’t usually wear much make-up, I probably don’t look that different to normal!

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