Monday, November 15, 2010

As Classy As Ever

Would you believe me if I told you that one year ago a bunch of guys who decided to earn money by growing mustaches raised $42 million and gave it all away to support cancers affecting men? Well, it’s true.

An innovative charity, called Movember, challenges men to change their appearance and the face of men’s health by growing a moustache…yes, a moustache. Participants from around the world begin each November clean-shaven and then grow a moustache for the entire month.

According to Adam Garone of Movember, “The moustache becomes the ribbon for men’s health, the means by which awareness and funds are raised to support men’s health. Much like the commitment to run or walk for charity, the men of Movember commit to growing a moustache for 30 days.” In case you weren’t taking notes, men + moustaches = BIG $ for charity. Now, before I explain why this idea is so striking to me, I’d like you to know where the merits of this unique initiative were espoused.

On Sunday, November 13, Mariel Berry and I presented an honor for Outstanding Young Nonprofit Professional at the 2nd Annual CLASSY Awards at San Diego’s Civic Theatre. This award show, hosted by local social fundraising company, StayClassy, recognized the top philanthropic achievements by charities, businesses, and individuals in eight major cities across the US. CLASSY Award winners included Nourishing NYC, who won for Charity of th
Year, and San Francisco-based The Office of Letters and Light, who earned the award for Most Innovative Use of Social Media.

It was a distinct honor for YNPN San Diego to participate as a partner for this year’s award ceremony, and I for one was inspired by the compelling stories shared by each presenter and award winner.

As I sat with Mariel watching the show, one presenter that really stood out was Movember’s Adam Garone, who traveled all the way from Australia to San Diego to present at the CLASSYs.

I was taken aback when he told the story about sitting at a bar with a few “mates” who thought it would be really cool to bring back the moustache as an homage to the 70s. The first year, the guys all spent a month growing groovy moustaches and then had a party at the end of November to show them off. The next year they decided that rather than just growing moustaches to grow moustaches they would get friends, family, and colleagues to donate money to support their efforts. This money would be pooled together to support Australia’s Prostate Cancer Foundation.n That year –2004– 432 men earned $55 thousand to support the organization, which, as it happened, was the largest donation it had ever received.

The more I listened to Adam Garone’s story, the more I thought about the number of untapped fundraising opportunities that exist, and the value of infusing creativity and fun into raising money for local nonprofits. Often, we think only about the importance of cultivating major donors, which of course is essential, but as young nonprofit professionals we can follow the Movember model and take a fun activity and turn it into an opportunity to make a meaningful financial impact on a great cause. Just think, only seven year ago a $42 million fundraising initiative was nothing more than some friends sitting around a bar discussing the finer points of bringing the moustache back into fashion.

Is there something that you’ve laughed about with your friends that could be something more? Is there a fun activity that you enjoy that could be transformed into a major money maker for a local charitable organization? At the CLASSY’s I realized the importance of thinking outside the box, and I encourage you to do the same.

Written by Shana Hazan

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