St Baldrick’s Foun­da­tion: shav­ing the way to con­quer children’s cancer

June 10, 2013
Medium of Communication
Target Audience
Type of Charity
Children, youth and family, healthcare
Country of Origin
Date of first appearance

SOFII’s view

This is volunteer-led fundraising at its best. The St Baldrick’s Foundation’s head-shaving events have inspired fun, enthusiasm and, most importantly, a connection to the cause for their millions of supporters around the world. Over the past ten years, St Baldrick’s head-shaving events have become the world’s largest volunteer-driven fundraising activity for childhood cancer and they have raised millions for their cause.

Summary / objectives

The St Baldrick’s Foundation is a volunteer-driven charity committed to funding the most promising research to find cures for childhood cancers and to give survivors long and healthy lives. St Baldrick’s Foundation organises and coordinates head-shaving events all over the world in order to raise funds for their cause.


On 17 March 2000, reinsurance executives John Bender, Tim Kenny and Enda McDonnell turned their employer’s St Patrick’s day party into a head-shaving event to raise money for children with cancer. They managed to persuade 20 colleagues into shaving their heads and expected to raise $17,000. Instead they raised over $104,000.

Buoyed by their success, they created the St Baldrick’s Foundation, which has quickly grown into the world’s largest volunteer-driven fundraising programme for childhood cancer research. Today, the St Baldrick’s Foundation gives more grants to childhood cancer research that any other charitable organisation.

Since 2000, more than 186,000 volunteers (including over 16,800 women) have shaved their heads in solidarity with children suffering from cancer. Events have taken place in every US state and in many countries around the world. Thanks to the generous sponsorship from their friends and family, these ‘shavees’ have raised over $113 million for life-saving research.  

Special characteristics

The St Baldrick’s Foundation helps to organise head-shaving events throughout America and all over the world. In 2010, St Baldrick’s volunteers hosted over 800 events and shaved 38,290 heads. Already in 2011, over 900 events have taken place and more than 40,800 heads have been shaved. The foundation has also attracted a wide range of supporters who have taken part including actors Michael Douglas and Jackie Chan as well as dozens of soap opera stars, professional athletes and public officials.

Since the very first event in 2000, five key principles have guided the foundation’s fundraising activity: integrity, efficiency, transparency, a pioneering spirit and, above all, a sense of fun. St Baldrick’s aims to create an experience for volunteers that is both rewarding and entertaining so that they will continue to support the cause.

Influence / impact

The foundation has committed millions to life-saving research for childhood cancer. They fund local institutions as well as cooperative research on a national scale to help doctors work together to develop the best treatments for children with cancer. Additionally, the foundation also awards grants to enable doctors to pursue a career in childhood cancer research.


The St Baldrick’s Foundation is a wonderful example of volunteer-led fundraising and demonstrates just how successful it can be when you choose an activity that everyone can take part in. By encouraging volunteers to shave their heads, St Baldrick’s have found an inspired way to engage the public by encouraging them to have fun and to connect them with the cause.

St Baldrick's Foundation is a self-proclaimed volunteer-driven charity, raising money to fund research to provide cures to childhood cancers.
Since 2000, more than 187,000 volunteers - including more than 16,800 women - have shaved in solidarity with children with cancer at events in dozens of countries and every US state. These 'shavees' have raised over $114 million for life-saving research and each becomes a walking advertisement for the cause.
With a dedicated search tool on their website, St Baldrick's Foundation makes it incredibly easy to locate an event to participate in or find someone to sponsor. A great way of keeping their focus firmly on their all-important volunteers.