Andrew Hahn is one of the Movember Foundation’s top fundraisers.
Prostatepedia spoke to him about how he uses Facebook in the annual moustache-growing campaign that is raising funds for men’s health .
How did you become involved with Movember?
Andrew Hahn: I knew a few people nine years ago who were growing moustaches. They looked silly, but it started a conversation about something that, at the age of 32, I wasn’t used to talking about: prostate and testicular cancer. I wanted to learn more about the movement and why they were doing it. My father, unfortunately, passed away from cancer when I was 24.
I’m so sorry. That’s so young.
Mr. Hahn: Thank you. He had a moustache his entire life. Even though he passed away from brain cancer, here was an amazing opportunity for me to connect with my dad and raise some important funds and to help people not go through what I went through.
I’ve been very fortunate: I’ve built teams and have raised over $150,000 in the last seven or eight years.
What is your fundraising strategy?
Mr. Hahn: Any charity or fundraising is important and phenomenal. Three out of four of us have someone who has been affected by cancer. You have friends who walk a 5K for breast cancer. That’s amazing. But you really get some empathy for growing a moustache for 30 days. It’s not just a Sunday morning.
I’ve never asked anyone for donations. I’m very proud of that. I’ve backhandedly guilted them into it.
Traditionally, I send out an email in late October. Sometimes I make a video, tell people what I’m doing, and talk about the mission to benefit all men and stop them dying too young.
I do a ton of social media posting. Anytime someone donates, I thank them, hyperlink them on Facebook, and say, “Thank you, Erin. Your contribution is amazing. If anyone wants to be as cool as Erin…” I do cool pictures.
Even though I haven’t asked them directly, everyone on social media just sees it going on. They see how long a month actually is. I take pictures of my moustache, and my family, and the people who donate. I wouldn’t say it’s easy. It’s actually a lot of work. It usually takes about 80-100 hours per Movember campaign.
Just in terms of the social media posting and curating?
Mr. Hahn: The social media is one part. I put a huge team together within a company and we advertise and market together. We got approval from the company to design T-shirts so anytime someone donated $50 or more, they got a T-shirt. Then all of a sudden, people were wearing T-shirts around the office and others were asking, “What did you get that t-shirt for?” It’s a lot of work.
You must work closely with your company then?
Mr. Hahn: Yes, with my former company. It was great press for them because one year we raised over $50,000. Being a large tech company, it was just a great thing for them to brag about.
Most large companies have some kind of philanthropy branch, don’t they?
Mr. Hahn: Exactly. My buddy justdonated yesterday. He works with Google and they matched his contribution dollar for dollar, which is pretty awesome.
Do you have any thoughts for men who want to participate?
Mr. Hahn: I’m going on 41 this year. I see huge stigmas about men going to the doctor, being proactive, and—let’s be candid—guys don’t want a finger up their ass. There’s this saying: if you think a finger up your butt once a year is painful, God forbid you have to get that done every day while dealing with prostate cancer.
Early detection, prevention, and awareness are the only fights we have. The money that we’re raising and the cause we’re helping isn’t for a cure; it’s for early prevention, awareness, discussion, and those type of things.
Mr. Hahn: Exactly.
What about the mental health piece? Because that has come into play in the last few years for Movember.
Mr. Hahn: As you know, three out of four suicides are men. My wife’s dad, unfortunately, committed suicide. She’s Asian, and in her culture, they’re even quieter about talking about mental health.
I had a buddy who I wouldn’t say was suicidal, but he was really down from being out of work and being a dad. My awareness was not only to have conversations with him, but to also ask how he was doing and to take it deeper. “How are you feeling? What’s your plan?” Saying “You can come to me for anything,” is something I probably wouldn’t have been as comfortable doing without Movember. It challenges your manhood. You don’t have a job. Your wife’s on you. It’s a great campaign to have in parallel for that reason.
What you’re saying is the awareness campaigns encourage men to reach out to those who are suffering, and not just for men who are suffering to reach out to others?
Mr. Hahn: Yeah. This is one of my best friends, but guys are bros. We golf, we drink, we talk about fantasy sports. We don’t really talk about our feelings. Traditionally, I would’ve said, “Hey man, how are you doing?” He’d say, “Oh, I’m okay. It’s okay.” I’d think, “You’ll be fine. You’re strong.” Then we’d talk about beer again.
The elevated comfort zone and awareness enabled and empowered me to be more aware, to have a larger conversation about his overall health, his well-being, and his plan. He knew that if it was two in the morning, he could call me and I’d be there for him. It’s just a verbal hug.
The Movember movement seems to be a cultural phenomenon, at least from the outside.
Mr. Hahn: It is. There are so many guys who grow moustaches, some for Movember, and some because it’s a hipster thing to do in November.
Are we upset when someone grows a mustache and doesn’t raise money? As long as it starts a conversation, it’s okay.
I’m in sales and I’m client-facing all the time. I used to be afraid that if I had a moustache, people would look at me funny. Now, I walk into a room and I point out, “Hey, I know I look silly. I’m doing this for Movember to raise money for awareness.” It changes the entire dynamic of the conversation. I go from being a salesperson to a human starting a conversation.
It really is a phenomenon. Two-thirds of the people who donate to me are not good friends. They’re people that I went to high school with, or people that I worked with 10 years ago. The common theme is they’ve been affected by cancer. The average donation I get is probably about $80. I am blown away by that.
I would have thought $20 or $30.
Hahn: No. I got $180 donation yesterday from someone I haven’t seen or spoke to in years. I get a $1,000 donation each year from someone who I see less than once a year. These are people who have been affected and want to do something. They know Movember is a great organization.
You said you spend a lot of time on social media. Are there certain channels that you favor over others, say Facebook versus Instagram?
Mr. Hahn: I do Facebook to thank people more than Instagram. I was a little late to Instagram. On Facebook I have 1,000 friends while on Instagram I have about 200. I just have a greater reach and impact on Facebook.
I use the Movember filter where it says, “Thank you for your donation.” The great thing about those posts is not only am I thanking them and creating awareness, it also makes them feel good, and all their friends know that they give. It’s a win-win-win.
Mr. Hahn: Well, it is. And it candidly pokes at your other friends who haven’t donated. Of my 20 best friends, I think only three of them donate to Movember. The people who tend to donate are those who have been impacted and affected.
Most of us have at least one man in our family who has experienced depression if not prostate cancer itself. If you combine both of those things together, that’s quite a lot of men impacted.
Mr. Hahn: Exactly. Movember is still known for prostate and testicular cancer awareness. The suicide prevention is a new initiative that most people don’t associate with Movemeber.
I wonder if people view Movember as a prostate cancer nonprofit or just a men’s health group.
Mr. Hahn: I think they view Movember as men’s health and something related to cancer at this point, but like I said, men don’t go to the doctor and men don’t talk about their feelings.
That may be changing as men come of age in the social media era.
Mr. Hahn: It will change. If 20% of guys are comfortable talking now, maybe it’ll rise to 30% or 40%. I see my friends so infrequently because I have a family and a job, so when I see them, I really just want to talk about sports, beer, and golf, even if something’s really weighing on me.
In my experience, when I tell someone what’s going wrong, they’re apathetic. They’ll ask a question, but I don’t think the dialogue continues with men. They ask if you’re okay, and then they take it one level deeper, but your friends aren’t trying to be your therapist. Part of the mental awareness is making men feel okay to talk to someone professional.
Any last thoughts for men who want to participate or who are already participating but want to increase their reach?
Mr. Hahn: When people are on the fence, unsure of whether or not they want to participate, I have one great tool to encourage people to participate. I tell them: Just start growing out your beard for a week. Bring it down to a mustache, and I promise you, a week into it, you’re going to be so into it and love it. I would say 10 out of 10 people that start on the fence end up actually growing out the Mo.
Money is great, but conversations can be great, too. If they have one conversation a day about why they have a mustache, they’re raising awareness and education and a level of comfort. Like I said, almost equally important to raising money is raising awareness and starting those conversations.
What about getting women to participate?
Mr, Hahn: I’m so glad you brought that up because at my former company, over 40% of the donations were brought in by Mo Sistas. Obviously, they can’t grow a mustache, but it impacts their husbands, brothers, boyfriends, sons and dads, so it’s equally important to them. They can take pictures with funny, fake mustaches. Sometimes we would combine a Mo Bro and a Mo Sis and they would rally together.
The joke I make to my single friends is that 9 out of 10 girls do not like mustaches, but that one girl really likes mustaches. When I was single and had a mustache, I had a little fun.