Movember should mean more than the beard you grow

Photo by Luke Sarazin

You’ve seen it on social media, commercials, and even on live sporting events – buy a product marketed by big-name corporations, and a portion of your sale will go towards a good cause or charity.

Turn on an NFL game and see the athletes with bright pink socks, helmets or shoes in support of the Pink Ribbon Inc. organization. Walk down the streets of Toronto and you’ll see men growing out their facial hair to support the Movember Foundation.

It’s trendy to support a good cause, but where is your attention, time and donations going towards?

It’s no secret how the infamous pink ribbon is the international symbol of breast cancer awareness. The ribbon – particularly not just the shade of pink promoted by the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month campaign (NBCAM) – symbolizes the health campaign that is annually hosted by major breast cancer charities every October as a way of increasing awareness about breast cancer and to raise funds for breast cancer research.

However, the Think Before You Pink project, created by the Breast Cancer Action organization, was started in 2002 to raise awareness about how the breast cancer movement revolves around the “pink ribbons.”

The project claims the pink ribbon is not regulated by a specific agency, and companies may sell pink ribbon products but fail to indicate to customers which breast cancer organization will receive the money, and how much of their sale will actually go towards breast cancer programs.

But now that NBCM is over and Movember has fallen upon us, are we dealing with the same marketing concept, only now with unkempt facial hair?

Movember, also known as “No Shave November,” was started up by Travis Garone and Luke Slattery in 2003.

The purpose of the campaign is to address health concerns faced by men on a global scale, such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer, as well as mental health issues.

Promoting your beliefs through fashion, music, social media or facial hair can impact the interest of your audience, and help those who have little knowledge about a certain issue or concern.

Throughout the month, men are encouraged to grow out their facial hair to the fullest of their abilities to promote and show their support to the cause.

The Movember Foundation then encourages people to donate to the organization, or to support a “Mo-bro” or “Mo-sista’s” donation page, to give back to the foundation’s men’s health programs.

So now that we know the Movember Foundation is celebrated on a global-scale, we have to wonder – is there a catch?

As with many international cancer charities, the Movember Foundation had seen their share of controversies in the media.

In 2007, when No-Shave November was starting to become an international tradition for men, ‘Today Tonight’ – an Australian tabloid program – claimed that the charity spent a disproportionate amount on high salaries and running costs for their directors, and only 78 per cent of the total amount raised for the Australian Movember campaign in 2008 went to administrative and fundraising costs.

Charity Navigator, an American charity-evaluator, also gives the Movember Foundation an overall score of 84.78 out of 100; the charity gives 77.3 per cent of their total expenses to their delivered programs and services.

Overall, the Movember Foundation is aiming to keep their promise to address men’s health, and they do this by keeping their finances transparent for their donors and participants.
I want to be clear – there is no issue with supporting a cause or charity you believe in.

Promoting your beliefs through fashion, music, social media or facial hair can impact the interest of your audience, and help those who have little knowledge about a certain issue or concern.

However, if you are participating in Movember by growing out your facial hair, or you’re wearing a pink ribbon to support breast cancer research, make sure to actually do your part!

Participating in local events to become more educated about the charity, donating to community not-for-profit organizations, or even just a simply Google searching can help you know which hands your money is ending up.


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