What did “Movember” Do Right?

Jacob Harper |

To most of the world, it’s November. But for thousands of men it’s actually Movember, or the time of the year to put away the razor, get out the clippers, and grow a mustache. Most all mustaches are welcome – the Selleck; the Sam Elliott; the recalcitrant Frenchman; the turn of the century bicycle enthusiast; the tenured geography teacher. They’re all welcome to the mustache party.

But this month-long ‘stache craze isn’t just about a few guys getting esoteric with their facial hair. Movember was designed as an unusual fundraising effort, and so far has raised over $25 million for prostate cancer research.

We thought it would be interesting to look into how Movember grew as a movement, and how it grew to become a legitimate part of the zeitgeist.

So what can other nascent fundraising efforts learn from the success of Movember?

1)       Have a catchy name.

A portmanteau of mustache and November, Movember is instantly memorable, catchy and easy to remember. It all starts with a good name, and Movember is certainly that.  

2)      Be a fashion statement.

From the (now-quite passé) Livestrong bracelets to the Live Aid shirts of the 80s, fundraising efforts that frankly become a fashion statement unto themselves have more legs than their clunkier counterparts. Rather than derail into a discussion of “how could people be so shallow about cancer?” we’ll just mention that being fashionable doesn’t hurt a movement’s popularity.  

3)      Let people take a socially acceptable vacation from themselves.

Think of Movember as a month-long Halloween. Yes, it’s people playing dress up, but growing a mustache is just this side of daring, and let’s people escape their otherwise doldrum, non-mustache sporting lives. Of course, this is in service of the good deed of fundraising. But the dress-up element definitely helps.

4)      Require no effort.

Perhaps Movember’s greatest asset as a fundraiser awareness movement is that it requires no effort past selective facial hair sculpting. No matter how little you try, hair grows, so growing a mustache doesn’t require the sacrifice of effort.

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