173 men. 173 mustaches. $308,000 raised for charity.
How do mustaches translate into doing good? It all started with a pair of friends, Dave Hogan and Aaron Breed, who shared the same two passions: mustaches and helping the children of Richmond, Virginia.
Their idea to raise money for children’s charities was similar to the typical runner-sponsor model often used in walkathons and 5K races. But it had a fun twist. Instead of gathering sponsors to donate for every mile they ran, Hogan and Breed wanted to gather sponsors for every mustache grown.
In the beginning, there were just 10 growers, 10 mustaches, and all the family and friends that they could gather as sponsors. But the creative cause soon began to grow – in people and in mustaches – and in 2010, Mustaches 4 Kids incorporated as an official nonprofit organization, with proceeds going to children’s charities dealing with a variety of issues that Richmond kids face, from cancer to hunger to homelessness.
M4K’s rapid expansion is due in part to the virtue of fundraising this way. Going from clean-shaven to seriously ‘stached is a major change that family and friends notice and ask about.
“It’s a great conversation starter,” says Ben Keefer of M4K. “It allows for an easy segue into the cause – sure, you can tease me about my mustache, and would you care to make a donation?” Since its founding, M4K has raised over $1 million in total donations benefitting Richmond-area charities focused on children and their families.
Fundraisers grow out their mustaches for the whole month of November. At the end of the process, they all come together to celebrate with a “Stache Bash” – a party where growers honor each other’s accomplishments and compare mustaches.
“It started out as something people volunteered for on their own,” says Keefer, “but in recent years, our growers have gotten creative. Businesses and even neighborhoods are forming teams and offering incentives, like a ‘Rookie of the Year’ award.”
As M4K expands, so does the range of charitable organizations it serves.
“It’s important to us that we support the whole gamut of community organizations,” Keefer says. “Homegrown charities, larger charities, and smaller growth partners who we believe can grow alongside us.”
The $308,000 raised this year went to the Children’s Hospital Foundation, which funds improvements to pediatric health care in the region; Greater Richmond SCAN (Stop Child Abuse Now), which prevents and treats child abuse in the area through good parenting and community-building initiatives; the ASK (Assistance, Support and Kindness) Childhood Cancer Foundation, which strives to improve the lives of child cancer patients with educational and health/wellness programs; the Cameron K. Gallagher and Friends Association for Children, which partners with schools and mental health professionals to prevent depression and anxiety in teenagers; Feedmore, a regional leader of hunger relief that’s comprised of multiple food banks and Meals on Wheels programs; and Friends of the Homeless, which provides food, counseling, health care, and child enrichment programs to Richmond’s homeless population.
Doing good for your community can be a whole lot of fun, and GoodBookey charity partner M4K Richmond is the embodiment of that fact. All you have to do is look at photos from the most recent Stache Bash and you’ll see how much fun it is to participate in this unique cause.
For more information on this special group of people dedicated to serving the children of Richmond, Virginia, visit www.m4richmond.org.