Von den Driesch organises a Movember action every year. This year he got donors to part with funds for the reconstruction of a school in Quneitra, a Syrian region that was hit hard by bombs. The funds will be donated to the HELP and OCHA organisations, which come under the United Nations humanitarian affairs relief coordination agency. The two organisations will be rebuilding four schools in Quneitra.
“The first project taught me that I can make an impact. It takes a lot of time to set up an action like this, but it’s definitely worth it.”
Four years ago, the German student was inspired by a ‘Movember’ action he saw on the Internet. He immediately started growing his own moustache and beard, even though he did not know at the time which charity he wished to support. “I wanted to do something education-related, because I feel it’s important, and it’s a subject close to my heart,” the international student told us. His first Movember action raised five hundred euros, and since then he has been a Movember activist every year. “The first project taught me that I can make an impact. It takes a lot of time to set up an action like this, but it’s definitely worth it,” said Von den Driesch.
For this particular action, Von den Driesch aimed to raise €5,000. “Of course I wish to collect as much money as possible, but I wished to set an attainable goal, to get people to think, ‘Hey, this is an amount we can actually raise.’ Five thousand euros will allow us to rebuild three classrooms in which over a hundred pupils will be taught.”
Girls’ beards made of coriander
Ever since his first action, Von den Driesch has sought to add a new element to his initiative every year. “For instance, in 2016 I had my moustache and beard dyed. A barber shop in Cologne was willing to do it for free, that being their contribution to the initiative,” he told us. This year women joined in the action for the first time. “Four female friends of us were sorry they couldn’t be involved in our action. And I found myself thinking, ‘Well, why not?’ Our motto is that everyone can help, so we decided to get them involved in the action, as well.”
“As part of the campaign, we took photos once a week for our social media. The girls had to improvise a bit,” Von den Driesch told us. While the boys grew actual beards and moustaches, the girls pasted flowers, coriander or fake moustaches to their faces.
Building a community
Initially, most of the group’s donors were relatives and friends. This year, Beard4education got some social media channels of its own. “Social media were incredibly helpful in spreading our message. They helped us reach more people – for instance, by using basic tricks such as hashtags. And people can now share our posts more easily, too.”
Von den Driesch hopes the social media channels will help him build a community. “This means we must properly communicate the news to our community. For instance, in six months we will receive the photos of the schools, and we will post these on our platforms, thus allowing donors to see how their money was used.”
This year, the Beard4education action started and ended a little earlier than most Movember actions – in October, to be exact. “Six of us have a 1 December uni deadline. I myself have to submit my thesis on that day, and I wish to focus on that during the last few weeks of November. Hence the fact that we embarked on our action two weeks earlier.”
The action ended last Sunday, but you can still donate money here until 18 November.