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Being Bold for the Cause with Alison Gordon – 5 Question Interview

Later this week (Nov. 21 & 22), Rethink Breast Cancer is kicking off Breast Fest, the world’s first breast cancer film festival in Toronto. I had the chance to catch up with Alison Gordon, VP, Strategy, Marketing and Communications to talk about Rethink and Breast Fest.

By the way, we’ve got two passes to each of the Breast Fest screenings on Nov. 22 for OneDegree readers who are passionate about this cause. Details are available at the end of this post.

OD: There are over 175 Canadian registered charities with "cancer" in their name. How does Rethink compete for share of mind and share of wallet?

At Rethink Breast Cancer we are focused on young people who are concerned about and affected by breast cancer. We are the only registered charity that is focused in that way. Twenty per cent of all breast cancer diagnoses are women under 50 years old and it is critical that their unique needs and situations be addressed.

Rethink is also committed to raising awareness and educating young women and men around this cause. This is so important as so many young people are touched by breast cancer and they want to both get information in a way that is relevant to them and be able to get involved in the cause. Our event and programs are created to engage this audience. This really sets us apart.

We are always thinking of new ways to be bold, innovative and entrepreneurial. Fashion Targets Breast Cancer is a great example of how we are thinking differently. The campaign centers around the sale of "target apparel" which is both fashionable (we partner with retailers such as Holt Renfrew and Roots and work with the fashion media community) and is a reminder for women to "target" their breasts. This type of awareness and fundraising campaign is not like any run or walk – it is a simple and relevant way to reach women and men with the important messages of breast health.  (Ed .. See the video from the campaign below)

OD: What trends are you seeing in the Canadian marketplace around charities, giving and cause-related activities?

An obvious trend that has been happening for a few years now is the use of the Internet including social media around charities and giving.  These tools have really simplified the ways that people can contribute to and be a part of the causes that they are interested in and passionate about.

I think it is a great thing that many companies are donating a portion of proceeds for a variety of products to different causes. It really is a win-win for charities, corporate citizenship and consumers who want to support a cause. This trend is growing and we are also seeing companies create their own programs and charities.

OD: Rethink Breast Cancer is hosting the world’s first breast
cancer film festival in Toronto later this month. How did you come up
with that idea and what are you hoping to achieve the first year out?

The idea for the film fest came out of our desire to think of new
and relevant ways to both educate people about the many issues around
breast cancer and a unique way to bring people affected by breast
cancer together.  Film is such a universally loved medium which can
deal with incredibly diverse ideas in a variety of accessible ways.
Over the years we have seen many incredible films around the cause
(serious films to comedy to musicals and dramas!).

For our first year we hope to bring many different people out to the
films and workshops and get people talking about the issues raised
which range from environmental toxins, womanhood and cancer and the
uplifting-the new medical interventions that are saving lives. We have
had incredible support from the film community as well. We have an
amazing committee of seasoned film festival people and sponsors from
many of the amazing film companies out there such as Alliance, Maple
and Cineplex.  TELUS and Schick have also come on board to help make
this year a success.

We are excited about that the festival will shed light on many of
the unique issues that face young women with breast cancer.  We know
this will be valuable for everyone attending the festival.

Rethink has a Facebook group, what other steps is Rethink taking (or
have you considered) in the social media space and how important is the
web to your overall marketing strategy?

Because Rethink is a charity aimed at reaching younger women and
men, we use the web in many different ways. All of our charitable
requests are done online and we have worked hard over the years to
build our database up to around 17,000 people. We have a quarterly
newsletter and we communicate frequently with our supporters online.
Besides our Facebook group
we have been talking about ways to use social media to work with our
national volunteers and for hosting events. We use the web extensively
for our events as both places for people to get information and tickets
and to brand and bring our events to life (as well as for promotion).

The web has also been a great tool for our programs –
– is an incredible site that we fund. It’s an important resource for
young women who are newly diagnosed with breast cancer.  The web,
including social media tools, will open up a lot of opportunities for
Rethink to expand our programs and the work we are doing with young
women who have breast cancer.

OD: You have partnerships and
sponsorships with companies like TELUS and Roots. What would advice
would you give someone looking to create a partnership with a charity
like Rethink?

Rethink’s mantra is to "think differently
about how to beat breast cancer".  We are always looking for partners
who are also "thinking differently" about what they do. It is exciting
to work with partners who are passionate about helping us reach our
goals of raising funds for our important programs and raise awareness
and educate people about the cause. We are always open to hearing from

OneDegree has a set of two passes for each of the three Breast Fest 2008
films that are showing on Saturday Nov. 22 at Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum:

Dear Talula – Nov. 22 at 1:00 p.m.
Toxic Bust – Nov. 22 at 4:00 p.m.
Seventeen Short Films About Breasts – Nov. 22 at 8:00 p.m.

Here’s how to get you and a
guest on the list:

   1. Go to the Breast Fest website and decide which movie you’re most interested in seeing.
   2. Leave a comment on this post telling us which movie you’d like to see.
   3. Request your film before noon (EST) on Thursday, November 20.

The passes (for you and a guest) will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.

    * The pass (for you and a guest) is non-transferable.
    * The pass does not include travel or accommodation.
    * Please enter only if you’re actually able to use the pass and are passionate about the cause!

One Comment

  1. Eden Spodek
    Eden Spodek November 20, 2008

    Leona, I wanted to let the OneDegree community know that if they post a comment her between now and 9 a.m. EST Friday morning, I can still add their name to the guest list.
    Thanks again for interviewing Alison.

Comments are closed.