When Movember was launched in the UK in 2007, asking men to raise funds for men's health charities by growing moustaches during the month of November, it raised £1m and 6,000 people signed up.
In four years, the UK arm of the charity that began in Australia – grew dramatically. In 2012, it attracted 363,990 participants and raised £27.1m, of which £13m went to Movember's main charity beneficiary, Prostate Cancer UK.
The following year, however, Movember UK raised £20.5m, almost a quarter less, and 255,394 people took part – a 30 per cent decline. And the amount raised up to last month from Movember 2014 was £9.6m from 138,540 participants, according to the charity's website. This was about a third of the funds and participants achieved two years ago.
The campaign raised about £69.3m worldwide in 2013, its accounts show, down from about £71.8m the previous year. The Movember website shows that the total for 2014 as of last month was £50.2m.
What has caused the decline? Adam Garone, chief executive of the global parent charity the Movember Foundation, told Third Sector that Movember lost about £50m in revenue worldwide last year because the first and last two days of November – the busiest of the campaign – fell on a Saturday or Sunday.
Garone says grooming trends also played a part.
In 2012, he says, the moustache had a resurgence, but beards were in vogue by 2014, ruling out many potential participants.
He also believes that Movember suffered in 2014 from increasing competition from donor-led initiatives such as the ice bucket challenge.
Garone says that in December he presented to the board a strategy to address the decline. Movember 2015 will be accompanied by a side campaign called Move, which will challenge women to do something active for the charity, such as a yoga session or a walk.
He says more emphasis will be placed on the activities of the global parent charity. Supporters will be encouraged to run the London Marathon for it, high-net-worth individuals will be targeted and fundraising dinners will be held.
"It goes without saying that we would love revenues to return to 2012 levels," says Garone.