In case you haven’t noticed some odd looking facial hair over the last month, November, or as we like to call it Movember, is Mustache Growing Season. Movember is a “moustache growing charity event held during November each year that raises funds and awareness for men’s health.” This all started back in 2003 where a couple of friends in Australia, where a Mo is slang for mustache, decided to grow a mustache and raise money for some good causes. All proceeds raised during Movember go to the causes it supports, specifically the Prostate Cancer Foundation and LIVESTRONG (read this article if you’d like to learn more about where the money goes). Here at Convio we had 17 team members donate their faces to men’s health and collectively we raised over $5K (not to brag but I finished first on our team, raking in over $1800). This blog post is about my month long experience of raising awareness & money for men’s health, as I grew my Mo.
One of the most valuable lessons I learned was the power of embarrassing oneself for the greater good. Yes, the mustache itself was ridiculously embarrassing, especially in the first few days of growth (maybe weeks?) but seeing that this was my second year, I had to take this one step further. So I challenged my supporters to help me exceed a fundraising goal of $1500 by promising they could put a cake in my face if I exceeded my goal.
If you have ever asked yourself, “Do challenges change donor behavior?”, I can attest that they in fact do! I literally saw the average donations jump from around $25 to $50 almost immediately after the challenge was issued. (I’ve also inspired my co-worker Corey Pudhorosky’s NTEN fundraising efforts so check out his embarrassing fundraising efforts for another great example). Similarly, I had the great fortune of having a matching grant from a colleague, the awesome Betsy Gressler, who matched dollar for dollar all donations up to a certain date. Again, donations spiked during that time frame as people took the opportunity to double the impact of their donation (or perhaps they were thinking about the cake’s impact on my face?).
The beauty, or perhaps horror, of growing a mustache, is it really is a conversation starter. Whether I was talking to old friends or new acquaintances, I was constantly explaining the story behind my new facial growth and thus spreading the world about Movember & consequently men’s health. I also took to Facebook, Twitter & my Movember MoSpace where I was able to solicit pledges directly, post regular updates of the Mo growth and find funny ways of challenging people to donate. Even people who didn’t donate were educated via my updates regarding the importance of men’s health and maybe even scheduled a wellness check with their doctor.
Ultimately the lesson I would give any NonProfit focused on peer-to-peer fundraising would be to find ways of empowering your supporters to not only raise money on your behalf but have some fun at the same time. Men’s health, and specifically prostate cancer, isn’t usually something you want to laugh at, but we only live once and if you can find a way to do good while having fun, you’re going to give your constituents, and those you support, something invaluable, a big smile and a good story.