Montreal

Movember fundraiser droops as moustache trend wanes

Not so long ago, Hollywood stars, entire NHL teams and Justin Trudeau grew out their whiskers for charity. But organizers of Movember say the men's health fundraising campaign is past its peak.

Campaign for men's health peaked by 2012, organizers say

Movember raised $42.4 million in 2012 in Canada and just over half that amount two years later. (Richard Vogel/Associated Press)

Not so long ago, moustaches seemed to be everywhere at this time of year.

Hollywood stars, entire NHL teams and Justin Trudeau grew out their whiskers for charity. 

But now the popularity of Movember is in steady decline in Canada.

Organizers say the men's health fundraising campaign reached its peak three or four years ago.  

In 2012, it raised $42.4 million, according to records filed with the Canada Revenue Agency. Last year it raised barely over half that — $23.3 million.

This year, the Movember Foundation had raised only $12.9 million by Nov. 29.

The short life of a fundraising idea

Normand Bourgault, a marketing professor at the University of Quebec in Outaouais, says these kinds of campaigns don't have a lot of staying power.

"The life cycle of a fundraising idea, of a fashionable idea, is quite short: two, three or four years," he said.

"After that, you have to come up with a new idea or new concept that adds something to the original idea."

Bourgault drew a parallel between Movember and the Ice Bucket Challenge, which raised millions for ALS research after sweeping social media last year. He said trends tend to fade quickly, even if the cause is good.

Rendall Sylvain-Hernandez, who runs a communication firm in Gatineau, Que., grew a moustache for Movember in 2014. This year, he decided to pass.

"My way of participating now is educating friends, relatives, family and not by growing a moustache," he said, adding that when he grew one in 2011 he was in university with friends, and "it was funny."

Broadened focus

Patrice Lavoie, a volunteer spokesman for the Movember Foundation, acknowledged the campaign has lost steam. As a result, the foundation no longer focuses solely on the moustache campaign.

"There are activities all year," he said.

"We organize activities for Father's Day and, for example, when soldiers return home from abroad."

Since 2003, Movember has raised $677 million worldwide and funded over 1,000 projects focusing on prostate cancer, testicular cancer, poor mental health and physical inactivity, according to the foundation's website.

With files from Radio-Canada's Mathieu Gohier

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