Is the nomakeupselfie campaign real?

Be careful about who you give your money to if you take part in the nomakeupselfie campaign, warns Angelique Ruzicka.

Social media websites are awash with women uploading pictures of themselves with no make-up on with the hash tag #nomakeupselfie in aid of cancer awareness. Some men have hopped onto the bandwagon too by posting pictures of themselves with make-up on.

While this unusual campaign has garnered momentum and resulted in thousands of people from all over the world taking part not everything has gone smoothly. Some people are ignorant of the ‘rules’, merely posting pictures of themselves without donating to any charity. This has garnered criticism in social media circles with some people saying there’s no point to the campaign.

Meanwhile others have passed on incorrect information. In the United Kingdom the BBC reported that £18,625 (R329, 282) has been accidentally pledged to children’s charity Unicef after people texted “DONATE” instead of “BEAT”. Texting BEAT would’ve ensured that money donated went to Cancer Research UK, but ‘DONATE’ belongs exclusively to Unicef. Others ended up expressing an interest in adopting a polar bear by texting ‘BEAR’ instead of ‘BEAT’ by mistake. The messages were then sent to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

How did it start?
At first it was unclear how the campaign began but UK publications have since revealed that a teenage mum, Fiona Cunningham, is the brains behind the craze. “The ‘Selfie’ Initiative didn’t start in South Africa. It was started in the UK by a young 18 year old, who was inspired to raise money after her fiancé’s grandmother died of breast cancer and several members of her family were affected by the disease,” says South African cancer awareness charity PinkDrive.
Cunningham said that she was inspired to create the original Facebook Selfie page after seeing actress Kim Novack attend this month’s Oscars with no make-up on. After creating the page she encouraged friends to post pictures of themselves with no make-up and challenged them to donate £3 (R53) to a charity.

Are charities benefiting?
Despite some people erroneously donating money to non-cancer charities and inadvertently asking about polar bears some cancer charities have noted a remarkable increase in donations since the craze began.

In the UK, Cancer Research UK say they have generated over £8 million (R141 million) in donations in just six days, boasting that they can now fund ten clinical trials. In South Africa, the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) and PinkDrive say they have benefited.
CANSA received R15, 000 over the last week while PinkDrive has managed to get R140, 000 since 21 March after their founder and director Noelene Kotschan decided to participate in the campaign herself. PinkDrive now has ambitions to get to R2 million to establish another mammography unit and truck.

But not all cancer awareness organisations and charities have benefited from this campaign. Janie du Plessis, CEO of People Living With Cancer (PLWC) an umbrella organisation of various projects including Cancer Buddies and Can-Sir, which supports men with cancer, says her organisations haven’t seen any donations stemming from the viral social media campaign.

While not all cancer charities are benefiting in South Africa, there have so far not been any errors to the scale seen in the UK. CANSA’s marketing and communications co-ordinator Esti Lindner says her organisation hasn’t seen any erroneous information passed on for South African organisations. But she warns: “If you are unsure whether it is a legitimate website or SMS number, rather phone the organisation and make sure. It is for a good cause, so when you take a selfie, remember to promote the reason why it is important.”

Linder adds: “Please remember that the purpose of this is to become aware of your body and to take a clear view at your health. Please do read more about: Women’s health, lowering your cancer risk and early detection on CANSA’s website.”

How can you donate?
If you live in South Africa there are plenty of cancer organisations that you can support if you want to take part in the nomakeupselfie campaign. Here are just a few:

Tel: 0800 22 66 22 (toll free)
To donate, click here.

Tel: +27 (0) 21 761 6070
To donate, click here.

People Living With Cancer
Tel: 0800 033 337
To donate, click here.

Tel: +27 (0) 11 998 8022
PinkDrive’s nomakeupcampaign selfie is encouraging donations of R20 via SMS. SMS PinkDrive to 40158.