DECEMBEARD: SHOWING SANTA & CANCER WHO’S BOSS

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craig decembeardWe’re moving away from one-month charity raising and going in for the long-haul with Decembeard. Beards for Bowels aims to raise awareness of bowel cancer by growing beards all year round but mainly campaigning in December. We spoke to Craig, Founder of Beards for Bowels, about the inspiration for the campaign and what it is trying to achieve.

Fun charity raising has become a welcomed event taking place throughout the year, from Movember, ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, #NoMakeUpSelfie, and now @Decembeard and @BeardforBowels- the charities these campaigns support and the money they raise for the various causes is a great reason to get involved. Decembeard even has free iPhone apps for Beard for Bowels and Decembeard, which allow the follicly challenged to take a picture and place a beard on their #selfie, then post it on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to help them spread the word and donate.

What originally pushed you to start Decembeard?
Our #Decembeard campaign started back in 2011, shortly after BBC Radio 2 Breakfast presenter Chris Evans mentioned that he was going to grow a beard for bowel cancer during December. This quickly became an annual event for both fundraisers and other charities.

Where did the concept for growing beards year-round come from? 
Because of the importance of raising awareness, we wanted to take this a step further and not just focus on one month a year. Therefore we came up with the concept ‘Beards for Bowels’, which allows us to campaign all year encouraging men to grow #ByearD’s (see what I did there…).

The iPhone app was nominated JustGiving Mobile Fund Raiser Of The Year 2013. What did you do differently with this app?
The nomination was unexpected and I had the opportunity to attend the award ceremony in London. There are two free iPhone apps on the App Store when searching for ‘Beards for Bowels‘ and a themed version of ‘Decembeard‘, which enables users to:
1) Find useful bowel cancer information and who to contact provided by Bowel Cancer UK
2) Features a simple way to donate by populating an SMS message with the JustTextGiving by Vodafone short codes, for example: send a text message of ‘DECB47 £2‘ to ‘70070‘ or link the user through to our JustGiving page: http://www.justgiving.com/BeardsforBowels
3) Follicly challenged? A user can beard their selfies and post on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to get involved and help raise awareness.

As new device functionality becomes available I integrate it within the app and currently have a few updates in the pipeline along with an Android version.

Decembeard_Info

What are your hopes and goals for Decembeard?
Our mission has always been to globally help raise support and awareness of bowel cancer and this continues to be our goal. We would hope that it follows the success of Movember and that all fund raisers, supporters, beard growers and charities come together each year to support the cause.

How do you want to effect change to the risk of bowel cancer?
Bowel cancer is a common cancer killer and one in three people are embarrassed to talk to their GP. Symptoms may include blood in a person’s stools, abnormal bowel habits lasting for 3 weeks or more, pain and/or a lump in the stomach and unexpected weight loss. Depending on how advanced the cancer is, if caught early enough bowel cancer can be successfully treated, which is why our aim to raise awareness and inform people not to be afraid to consult their doctor is important.

Is there anything else you’re thinking of doing?
As we are not funded, make no profit from the campaign and have full-time jobs and family life to juggle, what we are able to achieve is limited and so far it’s been a challenge. However, using our day-to-day digital abilities and with the help of social media; we have a loyal community of supporters and beard growers and the feedback has been truly amazing.

How do you manage professional and family life along with the charity? Do you have any tips for other hopeful entrepreneurs?
By day, I work for a Midlands based creative agency as their Head of Development and by night, I tend to the Beards for Bowels and Decembeard fund raising activities. I keep a healthy mixture of work, family and social life. Although, it’s time consuming for just one individual and according to friends I’m “always on Twitter”- everyone is very supportive.

Your goals may not happen overnight, be patient and stay positive. If you’re passionate about something – what’s the point in giving up if it’s something that you enjoy doing anyway?

Head to www.decembeard.co to check out bearded fans and get involved with charitable giving.

BOE Magazine

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