For the past 11 years, the men’s health charity has invited men to grow mustaches each November, chronicle the results online, and collect pledges from their friends. The effort has produced some impressive results — raising more than $650 million worldwide for men’s health causes.
But as the campaign has matured, so, too, has the organization. And it has realized that it needs to adapt to keep advancing its cause.
After all, about half of the world’s adults are unable to sport a mustache. And there are 11 months of the year that aren’t November. Those two facts create some limits for Movember, as does the fact that as the campaign was starting to run into an issue that is common among long-running peer-to-peer programs: donor fatigue.
To address these obstacles, Movember’s 2015 campaign has sported a different look.
The mustaches are still there. But they are joined by another challenge that closely aligns with the organization’s mission and offers women the chance to be more active participants in the campaign.
Fundraisers can now take part in a new challenge — called Move — in which they agree to take part in at least 30 minutes of physical activities every day in November.
“Move is a bridge to other parts of the year and engaging women and men in a new way,” says Mark Hedstrom, country director for the Movember Foundation US. “Ultimately, it allows us to take a step back and have a larger conversation about the foundation and its work — and it ties directly to our program.”
Movember is hoping that the new program will help participants be more active, which is a key ingredient to long-term health, Hedstrom says.
The campaign is also designed to appeal to both men and women.
“Women have obviously been supporting Movember in donating to the case of men’s health, but they couldn’t really engage,” he said. “Move provides a way to engage women in the conversation.”
As it reaches it final days, the new program has exceeded the organization’s expectations. About 130,000 people worldwide have registered to participate in Move this month — more than 4 times more than the 30,000 who were expected to take part. All told, about 500,000 people are participating in Movember fundraisers this month — either through growing mustaches, Move, or both.
“We’ve been pleasantly surprised, for sure,” Hedstrom says.
But whether the new program will be enough for Movember to keep growing its fundraising is still difficult to gauge.
The charity has seen its fundraising flatten in the U.S. recently after years of fast growth. In Canada, its campaigns struggled in 2014, as revenues declined by 32 percent, or $10.8 million.
Movember remains one of Canada’s largest and most successful peer-to-peer programs, ranking No. 4 on Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Canada’s list of largest campaigns.
Hedstrom says this year’s campaign in the United States is on pace with its 2014 campaign, which the charity reports raised about $20.2 million. Movember is declaring that pace a victory — in large part because of this year’s calendar. With Nov. 1 — the official kickoff for the campaign — falling on a Sunday, the charity had fewer opportunities for large-scale media coverage and attention.
“When (Nov. 1) is on a Sunday, you lose two days of media,” he says. “When we look at this year’s numbers, they are tracking to where we were last year, but a lot more work had to go into getting those numbers, given where the calendar was.”
The charity is also dealing with the fact that its campaign is no longer a novelty — and that a growing number of other organizations are raising money for men’s health issues.
But Movember believes that it will continue to grow and advance its work in promoting health for men. And part of that comes with moving past the mustache.
“What we have been doing around messaging about the foundation is moving past the campaign,” Hedstrom says. “We are talking about Movember as the foundation and not Movember as the campaign. Move allows us to do that — to go to a 365-day a year conversation about men’s health.”