Making sense of the #nomakeupselfie trend

One of the great benefits of teaching is the amount you learn from your students. My current ‘Fundraising and Philanthropy’ class are a particular delight – full of ideas and not afraid to express them.

A few weeks ago we discussed why people are so unwilling to admit to being charitable donors, despite generosity being a  generally admired trait. The students noted that they post endless items on social media about their nights out, photos of what they’re about to eat and  information about things they’ve bought (such as new shoes) but would never in a million years share on social media the fact that they’ve just made a donation to a good cause. The only exception might be sharing the fact they’d sponsored someone doing a charity challenge, but only to help raise awareness and  never mentioning the amount given.

Selfies raise 8 million

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As a class we agreed to experiment and ask our loves ones what they would think of people who did publicise their giving. The response was immediate and clear: only idiots/show offs/those wanting to make others feel guilty, would ever do such a thing. So that seemed clear, until a rather unusual trend hit social media this week.

The #nomakeupselfie trend is pretty self-explanatory up to a point. Women post photos of themselves without any make-up on – but many also make a donation to a cancer research charity, and let their friends know that they did so. Shock, horror! People being willing to admit they are generous, what is the world coming to?

The genesis of the idea seems to be a marketing campaign. According to Closer magazine:

The craze originally kicked off in September 2013, when beauty retailer launched the nationwide DareToBare campaign for women across the UK to raise money and awareness for Breast Cancer Care.

However, as women started sending donations to whichever cancer research charity they preferred/knew of, some got organised to steer donations their way: Cancer Research UK – the UK’s biggest fundraising charity by a mile – advertised a text donation line (text BEAT to 70099) and have so far raised over £1m according to Civil Society magazine.

So, now my students are back on the case, trying to work out what’s going on. Has there been an attitudinal change? Is it the fun element and the small amount requested (£3) that makes it ‘ok’ to go public? Or  is a more cynical interpretation required – might the donation be a useful cover to show the world how great you look without make-up?

If you understand what’s happening then do let me know!



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