Mo-tiva­tions. Why (oh why) am I doing it? And why would you sup­port me?

Written by
Matthew Sherrington
October 31, 2013
Excerpts from Matthew’s mo diary. You can see more here.

So, I grew a mo for Movember. Unbelievable! Why the hell did I do that?

I am an introvert. I do not do this group heart-on-sleeve exhibitionist type of thing. It makes my skin crawl with embarrassment. I never even wore a Make Poverty History wristband, though I bought a few. I don’t do sponsored stuff. I’ve never seen the inside of a gym, never mind done a run. Yes, some of you who know me may find that surprising (the introvert, not the gym thing). It’s exhausting for introverts to keep up the front. But we’re good at it. Obama is one. So, my introvert self-consciousness was screaming with pain for a month. I’ll say that again: pain for a month.


Cool. A dad of teenage daughters will do anything to hear that word said about him. Anything. This was the reason that made me do it. This one.


I have also never gone to work unshaven. I know there are a bunch of you blokes who style your designer stubble and put an awful lot of time and energy into looking dishevelled. Facial hair, unless of the completely shaggy-beard variety, generally involves a lot of vain primping. We’re all a bit vain, but I can’t take myself that seriously. You think it looks cool. I’m afraid to me, though I know otherwise, it just looks as though you got up late or couldn’t be bothered. Which is me at the weekend if we don’t have plans to go out. And if I tell you that the same not-bothering sometimes means not brushing my teeth after an evening of red wine (and yes, always regretting it in the morning), you’ll recognise the sense of grubby yukkieness I was going to be fighting against.

Let’s get down to brass tacks

So why did I succumb? I don’t know anyone directly who has had prostate cancer. Though it is a man-thing, so it’s more than sort-of relevant to me. Those who I asked to sponsor me may or may not know someone who has experienced it, I don’t know. But in the end, it hadn’t got a lot to do with that. So let’s get down to brass tacks. Why does anyone do it? Why, why, why?

  • Peer recognition. Some of the guys I worked with set up a ‘good mo’s’ team. How could I not join in? We’re fundraisers, for Pete’s sake. I could hang out with the cool kids too. Well, they are also bastards and my twisted arms hurt. Mind you, at first I said no, you must be joking (see reasons above). Recognition my arse – peer pressure is more like it. Besides, no one will recognise me with my fu manchu.
  • Self esteem. A selfish reason, perhaps, though I’m not really a selfish person. But Ruby, my 13-year-old daughter, said don’t be daft dad, join in. She thought it would be cool if I did it. Cool. A dad of teenage daughters will do anything to hear that word said about him. Anything. This was the reason that made me do it. This one.
  • Competitiveness. Ok, this isn’t me either. I’m a team player, journey-not-destination sort of person, achievement-not-winning, but hardly competitive. So while this isn’t one for me, it’s going to be for some others. Mind you, I work with a bunch of brilliant fundraisers and I was going to look a right idiot if I didn’t do reasonably well on the fundraising front, wasn’t I? So I thought, I’ll show them.
  • Experiencing the moment. I talk a lot about supporter engagement, involvement, belonging, being part of something big. A mo-vement, even. Planting lasting memories. So, in for a penny, in for a pound, time to put my money where my mouth is. (Well, my sponsors actually.) Movember is certainly a moment.
  • Solidarity. Once in, it was reassuring to see some people I knew, but not that well, doing it too. There’s a Twitter fraternity. It felt a bit safe, almost private. I knew it wouldn’t be when I was out in the real world, but felt we’d support each other – wouldn’t we? And some friends had said they’d support me: best friends forever!
  • Achievement. A whole month, a journey into the hairy unknown. Would I make it? Would I raise a decent amount of money? I hoped so. No, I intended to. I felt the fear and did it anyway. And that felt great.
  • Fun. Ok, through gritted teeth, I could see it might be fun. My mo-team captain suggested going to the pop-up barber together and there were free burgers somewhere if we raised enough money. A bit of team bonding can’t be bad. And you know what, secretly I was thinking that making the most of Twitter and my Movember mo-ney page could be fun too. I’m newish to social media (not on Facebook), so it was a chance to play. I kept a mo diary. You can see it on Twitter @MyMoDiary.

So, seven mo-tivations. Yeah, it’s all for a good cause and all that, sure. But really, it’s all about me. And that understanding is another cause for cringe. I don’t think I’m a me sort of person, really. But of course we all are, even if just a little bit. The shame is admitting it.

Remember my month of pain?

And why would people support me? Because they are overwhelmingly concerned about prostate cancer? No, most of us sponsor someone we know doing something vaguely challenging for a charity we’ve never heard of, or don’t care much about, because they ask. Because we know and like them and appreciate that it might be a bit of a challenge. Remember my month of introvert and hirsute pain?

We do it because we won’t have to run that marathon, or look like a prat with a mo. You can take part vicariously through the person you’re sponsoring. The people who sponsored me knew I’d look like an idiot and were looking forward to having a laugh at the photos. They were prepared to pay for the privilege. Some maybe pretended it was out of professional interest because they are fundraisers too and are as amazed as I am that motivations can be as detached from the cause as this. And yet it works, doesn’t it?

*First published by The Good Agency Movember 2012.

About the author: Matthew Sherrington

Matthew Sherrington has over 20 years’ experience of charity marketing and leadership internationally, with organisations such as Oxfam and Greenpeace USA. He now runs his own consultancy, Inspiring Action. His guiding principle is engaging and inspiring people to action and has a particular interest in supporter engagement. Matthew bridges fundraising, communications, brand, campaigning, organisational development and offers strategic consultancy and coaching.

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