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Community News: OTF Blogger Finishes Atop Preds 2013 Movember Fundraising Team

My dad battled prostate cancer in 2000, and it was absolutely terrifying coming to terms with his mortality as a young adult. After doing some research for my October piece on the great work the Hockey Fights Cancer campaign does, and seeing that the Movember Foundation was one of five major beneficiaries of HFC, I decided I would try to raise money with my mustache for the first time ever this year.

I started with a simple goal of raising $500 throughout the month, but after the generosity of two anonymous donors got me 60% of the way there in under 48 hours, I decided to raise the goal to $1,000. I reached that benchmark in hardly a week, and decided to raise the goal to $2,000, where it stayed for the remainder of the month.

It was pretty cool to shoot for $2,000, since 2000 was the year my dad went under the knife. But more than anything, I was just overwhelmed by the outpouring of support I received from various avenues in my life—family, work, friends, those sorts of things. My dad has always been pretty private about his health, so it was pretty special for me to get his permission to do something to honor him, and to help other people going through what he went through, and what my family and I went through.

Since I was raising money with my face pet for the first time this year, I tried to approach Movember this with a bit of a self-deprecating sense of humor. I heard somewhere at some point that your hair genes come from your mom’s side of the family, and while I’m lucky that my grandfather on that side still has a full head of hair at 80-something, the men on my mom’s side of the family have never really had much facial hair, to say nothing of actually impressive facial hair. My mustaches have always been punchlines unto themselves, but I was nevertheless personally satisfied with this year’s handlebar-style entry.

Movember Day 18, 2013. (Photo by George Scoville/Instagram)

How Social Media Fueled My Movember Campaign

I have worked as a political media strategist in the Washington, DC area for the last couple of years (although I’m headed back to Nashville early in 2014). I’m a self-styled early adopter of social technologies, and a longtime blogger. That’s how Dirk Hoag and I came to know each other, actually, through Twitter during the 2008-2009 Preds season. I joined Twitter in early 2008 to study the effects of social media on political campaigning first-hand, but soon realized how easy it was to find communities of like-minded folks on the platform, and what a capable tool it was for offline organizing in other realms. As such, Dirk and I, along with Amy Dawson (@AmyPredsfan on Twitter), organized the tweet up at The Closing Bell Wall Street Pub on Demonbreun Street in Nashville to ring in the first night of the 2009 Predators-less playoffs, after getting to know each other a bit on Twitter.

For this year’s Movember campaign, I leveraged a number of social technologies to reach my fundraising goal.

The most important platform I used was Instagram. The whole point of the Movember campaign is to grow a mustache, which then becomes a conversation piece to talk about men’s health. Since I work from home and don’t really ever see many people in a normal work day, I thought a visual medium would be one of the best ways to reach people. Instagram’s integration with Twitter and Facebook, too, helped me blast regular updates at the retail level to 3,200+ Twitter followers and 1,500+ Facebook friends and family. Not only did it let me send pictures of my facial hair as it grew and took shape, but I could include a donation link with every update, too. I also wrote a couple of posts on my personal blog (one announcing my participation in the fundraising campaign, and one touting a Movember fundraising partnership with Dollar Shave Club, for which I received an email pitch), posted announcements in Facebook groups, and sent private messages on Facebook. Of course, I used the tried and true shoe-leather face-to-face approach, too.

Despite working in political media for a few years now, this year was my first real try at online fundraising.

I’ve managed email lists before, even some pretty big ones—tens of thousands of subscribers. But for this, I just went through my personal address book and built four lists in MailChimp. I divided hand-selected contacts I thought would be most likely to give, first into male and female recipients, and then into family and friend/acquaintance lists. I wrote unique messages for each list, and only sent one blast campaign to each list. Integral to each message, I think, was the insistence that I raise the money $10 at a time, but I don’t have data to back that conclusion.

My numbers were still pretty impressive, though: I had open rates north of 82% and click-through rates above 54% for my family lists, and open rates above 52% and click-through rates above 6% for my friend/acquaintance lists. My professional emails have always been in newsletter format, so writing fundraising copy was admittedly a bit of a challenge. But I have lots of friends in the business I’ve talked to over the years about best practices, and Lord knows I read enough fundraising solicitations from candidates and nonprofits to have a general sense of the form.

My tactics paid handsome dividends: I hit my $2,000 fundraising goal with just minutes to spare on the evening of November 30, a number which leads all participants on the Nashville Predators Movember team and outpaces the totals raised by the team’s #2, #3, and #4 fundraisers combined. The haul represents almost 32% of all money raised by the Preds team in 2013.

As an added bonus, I noticed that the Preds Press for the Edmonton Oilers game on Thanksgiving Day reads

The fan who raises the most money throughout the month will win a prize pack that includes four tickets to a Saturday game in December and a stick autographed by members of the 2013-14 Nashville Predators.

I had no idea about that little incentive until Thursday last week when I was in Music City visiting my family for Turkey Day. That’s definitely an added bonus, but ultimately it’s a testament to the premium the Nashville Predators organization places on the good will of all the donors who step up to chip in when team members ask them to support men’s health.

The Nashville Predators Movember team racked up $6,280 in donations last month according to the team’s fundraising page. In 2011, the last time the organization participated in Movember (no thanks to last year’s lockout-shortened season), they raised over $8,000.

I cannot overstate how thankful I am for every dollar contributed to this campaign by every donor I asked. Your generous contributions will help fund research and treatment, and help families live with, rather than die from, health issues that are specific to men.

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