Starting the charity and creating a buzz around the brand...
It’s one thing to have a passion but another entirely to take that passion and inspire others to carry it further with you and join you on the journey.
You've obviously succeeded in this, so could you tell us about the movement you started and how you created a buzz around it?
CoppaFeel! was founded in 2009 by Kristin Hallenga and her twin sister Maren. Kris was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer at the age of 23. After finding a lump at 22, living abroad in China for 8 months and eventually visiting her doctor 3 times, Kris was told the news that she had incurable breast cancer.
Kris was unaware that breast cancer could affect people in their twenties and knew very little about the disease. It struck her that there was very little information out there for young people, educating them about the disease, how they could be looking after themselves and informing them that breast cancer doesn’t just affect women over 50.
Although Kris will always live with cancer, she wanted to get the message out there to young people that catching cancer early means you have a higher chance of surviving and recovering. She wanted people to learn from her story and become proactive about their own health. The idea for CoppaFeel! was born.
For more information on how CoppaFeel started and to hear Kris' story from the lady herself, it’s worth watching CoppaFeel's incredible film – be sure to have a packet of tissues to hand, as it’s quite emotional!
What are the factors that you believe made the movement such a success?
At the time of Kris’ diagnosis, no one was talking about the signs and symptoms of breast cancer to young women and men. Kris didn’t have anyone to turn to discuss what she was going through – and therefore, Kris and Maren felt it was important to start educating the masses in the hope that no one would have to go through something similar!
The movement became, in turn, so successful as people really resonated with Kris’ story and it really demonstrated that it could truly happen to anyone. It also led to more people coming forward with their own breast cancer diagnosis – realising that they weren’t on their own!
We now have a team of over 100 women under the age of 35 who act as our Boobettes – volunteers nationwide who do inspirational talks about their own experience with breast cancer.
What did you need to get started in creating the charity?
The charity needed Kris and Maren to get started – without their passion and drive, CoppaFeel! quite simply wouldn’t exist.
Measurement of success as a charity
Success is entirely different depending on the person and the journey that they're on, and often changes over time. But what does success look like for you?
For CoppaFeel!, success would be getting all young people, male and female (men can get breast cancer too!) to be checking their boobs and pecs regularly, knowing the signs and symptoms of breast cancer – and most importantly, feel confident to go and see their GP if they see any changes.
CoppaFeel! actively promotes the importance of getting to know your own body and feeling comfortable and confident in your own skin! Only you know what is normal for you.
Advice for starting a charity-based movement
What would be your advice for others wanting to do the same as you and start a movement?
Find your passion and go for it! Be prepared to take a risk and put yourself out there.
At CoppaFeel!, we advocate living life to the fullest because, as cliché as it sounds, life is too short.
The importance of having a strong network as a charity
A network that feels as passionately as you do and helps to carry your idea must be the goal when you're starting out. How important do you believe a strong network and community is to be able to achieve what you have?
CoppaFeel! wouldn’t be where we are now without the community that is around the charity. From fundraisers to volunteers, to the staff at Boob HQ, those who follow us on social media and everyone in between.
CoppaFeel! would not have grown to what it is today in its 10th birthday year without a relentless, inspiring community of people who truly believe in what the charity stands for and it’s a mission to stamp out late detection of breast cancer.
Building a buzz around a charity online
Social media plays such a big role in the movements of today – even with something as simple as a hashtag, you can spread a message. What role do you think social media plays in a movement's growth?
Social media has been an incredibly useful tool for CoppaFeel! – and probably is central to raising awareness of our message with our target audience. 61% of 18-35-year-olds are on Instagram – and in order to get more people regularly boob/pec checking, we use this channel as a way of reminding our followers in a way that is fun and accessible!
We also are lucky to have the support of some amazing ambassadors who share our message with their large social media followings, which allows us to reach more people with our message.
Building a buzz around a charity offline
Then following on from that, how do you ensure that the community will move with you not only online but offline – for example, when you release a book or hold an event, how can you drum up support and intrigue?
CoppaFeel! as a charity is incredibly inclusive and welcoming – therefore, when holding events such as Festifeel or asking supporters to get involved with challenge events, we know that our audience is invested in supporting how/where they can.
In addition, by showing appreciation to those getting involved and recognising their achievements, it empowers them to do more for the charity.
The challenges of maintaining a charity
What has been the biggest challenge since you started, and how have you overcome it?
Starting a charity comes with its obstacles – and there have of course been various challenges that we’ve had to overcome in our time.
I think more generally the charity is always acutely aware that we are reliant on generating income to ensure we can continue our mission – and this is something we have to continually think about!
As a charity, our focus will always be on sharing our awareness message – but we, of course, have to make sure we think about generating the income we need to keep going!
It'd be incredible to do something like this for the passion alone but, as you mention, you have to make money to be able to fund the movement so that you can keep it going.
How do you monetise the idea or fundraise around it to aid in its growth and journey?
CoppaFeel! has an incredible community of supporters who fundraise for the charity in order for us to continue spreading our message. The biggest income stream for CoppaFeel! are these fundraisers who put on bake sales, run marathons or hold events for us – and by making sure we show appreciation for their incredible achievements, we hope they will, in turn, do more for us!
We also have an incredible group of corporate partners who really get behind our message and value our charity’s mission who want to support our growth.
Thank you so much to the amazing team at CoppaFeel for taking time out of their busy schedule to speak to us! It was so wonderful getting an insight into the fantastic work that they do every day and seeing the positive impact that they have on so many lives.
Also be sure to sign up for their free monthly text service, which sends you a very punny little reminder once a month to check your boobs or pecs. So text BOOBS to 70300 and get checking, because it could save your life!