Interview with Pink Ribbon Germany

Interview with Pink Ribbon Germany

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. To raise awareness, we’ve interviewed Pink Ribbon Germany. While most events were canceled this year, they’re making waves online with campaigns and a Spreadshop.

More than one million people worldwide are diagnosed with breast cancer every year. The Pink Ribbon movement is committed to promoting the early detection of breast cancer, education and healthy living. We spoke with Pink Ribbon Germany about their work and how they’ve adapted their campaigns for the unpredictable year that is 2020.

Can you tell us a bit about what Pink Ribbon Germany does?

Sure, gladly. Pink Ribbon Germany raises awareness about breast cancer. It all started ten years ago, this year we’re celebrating our anniversary. First off, we focused on the importance of early detection of the disease and chose healthy adult women as our target group. This is still the focus of our work today. At the same time, it’s important to address women who are or have been confronted with the diagnosis, and also to include their environment, i.e. families and relatives, coworkers and friends. Our communication is based on “empathy instead of looking the other way,” because it’s important for us to encourage women and to inform them about the possibilities of early diagnosis. We do this with the help of our prominent ambassadors like Sylvie Meis or Gudrun Landgrebe, projects with a positive character, and a focus on movement and body awareness.

There’s a lot of PR work to be done for you – how is your organization handling the pandemic?

Unfortunately, it’s been very hard. Our communication work, and the resulting income, is made up of large fundraising events, sponsors, and donors in private and business sectors. Events are currently completely unavailable. Donors are understandably becoming more hesitant in many places, as they themselves live in uncertain times, and sponsors are only retained if they themselves have not been too strongly affected by the crisis. You can imagine that this means quite a lot of cutback for us… As a non-profit organization we’re not allowed to build up financial reserves after the end of the year. So, there are no large financial reserves available for times of crisis. The German government has built up a generous and courageous rescue program. Unfortunately, charitable organizations have not been included in this, which is a real problem for us.

What are you doing to keep breast cancer on the radar despite the crisis?

We’re trying to continue doing what we’ve always done: communicate! However, we’ve been looking for new ways to reach our target group and have more of an online focus. We don’t want Corona to make people forget that breast cancer is still an everyday occurrence for many women [and men]. Of course, this has quickly faded into the background because of the current crisis. Especially since women are an at-risk group and hence particularly affected.

You recently opened an online merchandise store with Spreadshop. Why did you decide to start selling merch?

We brainstormed a lot of ideas that could help us get through this. One idea was to compensate for income lost elsewhere with a store. We already have a small store of our own with items that are mostly donated by companies. However, this store does not have the size and volume to completely compensate for financial losses. The combination of communicating with the world using our designs and the possibility to generate an income is why we decided to open a Spreadshop. In this way, we don’t have to ask for donations point blank, but we can also offer our supporters something in return that helps us continue our work. We’ve found this to be a really nice idea.

Are you satisfied with your Spreadshop? What do you like about it?

We are super satisfied. Everything went very quickly, and we were able to set it up with very little effort. We like the variety of products and that you can customize items. That opens up great possibilities. It was also important for us that we’re not bound to order minimums or fees, so that we are not taking a new financial risk.

What potential do you see in a Shop for non-profits? Do you have specific goals?

We have big goals. First, we wanted to create another financial pillar with the store. But we soon realized that there’s a lot more to it. And that inspired us. Our vision is that our designs will be met with enthusiasm nationwide and that it will reach people near and far. Why not aim high and reach for the stars?!

But seriously, in the end it would be great if the designs could get enough attention that our Spreadshop could create a new pillar of our work. Ideally, we could reach out to people we have not been able to interact with or educate yet. Every person we reach and who understands how important it is to take care of their own body is a success for our work. The subject is often scary, and we try to convey that according to the RKI 82% of women survive, and this in relation to ten years! What’s more, over 80% of breast carcinomas are first discovered by women identifying it by touch. These are strong numbers that encourage us to deal with the topic regularly instead of hiding from it.

Education seems to be key. Do you try to minimize fear with your campaigns? And how does that reflect with the designs in your Shop?

It’s a great honor for us to be able to follow a calling. In this case we received support from the advertising agency DDB Düsseldorf, who agreed to create designs for us free of charge. We are so grateful for such gestures, which enrich our work immensely. Spreadshop has also offered us a partnership. In addition to other designs, which Spreadshop has also provided us with free of charge, we have received a lot of support in setting up the store and will be able to get things moving in the long term. We are very much looking forward to this partnership and are excited about what we can achieve together. The designs bring us consistently positive feedback! They are very well received and seem to have a great potential for success.

 Will you tell us who is already wearing the Pink Ribbon collection?

We have numerous prominent supporters who wear the designs. This is great since we’ve just got started with the Shop. It’s amazing to experience the overwhelming support for us by ladies who share our enthusiasm. Boxing world champion Regina Halmich and many other sporting women have started to endorse our designs.

We’re waiting to see what the world has to say about it! Do you have any tips for non-profit organizations on how they can continue to promote an important cause nowadays?

Corona has had an impact on many structures. This is a big challenge for everyone. On the one hand, health wise. But on the social side as well. Personal contacts are being avoided or reduced, and the general uncertainty has a bearing on the support we experience. So, we needed to find new ways and become creative. It is important for us to allow room for new ideas and to think outside the box while shelving old ideas. Flexibility, solidarity and passion for our cause are – of course – very helpful. However, this is not a guaranteed recipe for success – we always need to be open for new opportunities. And the digital world makes it easier to reach out to people without personal contact. Staying positive and authentic helps.

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(•) (•) Ja, es ist Brustkrebsmonat. Wir finden das gut, weil es viel grundsätzliche Aufmerksamkeit für das Thema Brustkrebs und die oft lebensrettende Früherkennung bringt. Zugleich wünschen wir uns diese Aufmerksamkeit eigentlich Monat für Monat – daher ist unsere gemeinnützige Arbeit ganzjährig. Denn wir kommunizieren und geben immer wieder positive Impulse, sich mit diesem gar nicht leichten Thema auseinanderzusetzen. Und das ist nicht nur im Oktober wichtig. Früherkennung wird dann möglich, wenn Frau sich im gesunden Zustand mit der Krankheit auseinandersetzt. Diese Aufforderung und Anregung immer wieder in den Alltag und in die Köpfe zu tranpsortieren, gelingt uns unter anderem auch durch starke Partner, die mit ihren Produkten Farbe bekennnen und das Symbol unserer Organisation, die kleine pinkfarbene Schleife, kommunizieren. Oft in ungewöhnlichem Zusammenhang, immer respektvoll. Die pinkfarbene Schleife selbst bewegt nichts, sie ist aber stetiger Anstupser und Reminder und hat aus diesem Grund eine wesentliche Funktion in der Kommunikation. Und die Kommunikation ist für die Vorsorge und Früherkennung entscheidend. Danke an all die engagierten Menschen auf Seiten unserer Partner, die mit dafür sorgen, dass wir alle gemeinsam so viel bewegen können. #pinkribbondeutschland #Brustkrebs #Aufmerksamkeit #Früherkennung #Gesundheit

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Thank you very much for these positive words! We hope that you’ll be able to reach many people with your Spreadshop.

Learn more about Pink Ribbon Germany and check out their Spreadshop. Still want to know more? Pink Ribbon Germany has social accounts on Facebook and Instagram.

Start the discussion at the Spreadshop Forum