An unconventional fundraising strategy for missions has made a big impact on two Central Texas university campuses. The Mustache Wheel of Doom fundraiser brought in a combined $17,000 on the campuses of Tarleton State University in Stephenville and Howard Payne University in Brownwood through the Baptist Student Ministries.
The fundraiser has an easy premise. Teams of students grow beards (or wear fake mustaches) during the month of November and gain pledges and gifts for Go Now Missions. At the end of the fundraising time, the teams with the highest fundraising totals are exempt from spinning the dreaded Mustache Wheel of Doom. Members from the losing teams, all in good fun, spin the wheel to see what mustache or beard they have to don for the following week.
Shaving options include a half-beard, stripes, bulldog (long chops), no-t goatee, pencil thin mustache, hulk hogan handlebars and others. The fundraiser is not limited only to males. Girls on both campuses have found ways to get involved, from wearing fake mustaches to selling t-shirts.
The MWOD fundraiser began on the campus of Howard Payne University in 2003. Then-BSM Director Andy Dennis and several students created the wheel as a mid-year opportunity to support students planning to go on Go Now missions trips for the following summer.
HPU BSM Director Keith Platte has seen a great response for the now-beloved fundraising event on campus. The MWOD takes place during the annual Pancake Supper, with a large portion of the student body in attendance. Teams are comprised of students, as well as faculty and staff. Dean of Students Dr. Magen Bunyard even willingly took a pie to the face when the fundraising total surpassed the $6,000 total and brought in $9,400.
“It’s a really great time for us to do this because it raises awareness for our students,” Platte said. “November is our Go Now month. Booklets are out to look at opportunities and we do our interviews for summer missions. This allows us to have the same message across everything we are doing.”
Platte anticipates 9 to 10 students serving on Go Now missions trips this year.
Tarleton BSM Director Clayton Bullion is an HPU alumnus and seven years ago began the tradition on his state school campus. As a school with 10,000 students, he found it was not as easy to get wide-spread recognition on campus as at HPU, so he tweaked the model a little.
“We’ve been telling students to go back and get your church involved,” Bullion said. “We want our students to give, and we tell them, ‘if your team is going to win, you need to go to your churches, families and friends for help.’”
Getting the community and local churches involved has been a great opportunity to form connections for the BSM, Bullion said. Some churches made announcements during services and several local ministers participated on teams.
Christmas is a large Go Now missions sending time for Tarleton BSM students. This Christmas, they saw their largest number with 65 students going across the United States and on several international mission trips.
Thirty-five of the students traveled to Washington and Oregon through Tarleton’s partnership with Northwest Collegiate Ministries. The students worked with six college campuses and helped the local BSMs reach out to college students through a variety of activities.
“College student are the most sendable, trainable missionaries,” Bullion said. “If you are called to ministry it’s a great place to go to pioneer for the Gospel. If you are not called to [vocational] ministry, you can still find a job in a region that needs to hear the Gospel. It’s been super rewarding to see our students who are buying into that.”
Both campuses have seen the Mustache Wheel of Doom tradition grow in popularity and recognition as the years have gone by, but more importantly the money raised for student missions and interest in participating in Go Now missions trips has also increased.
“It’s important for students to go because me being a former Go Now missionary myself, the experience of taking a semester or Christmas break or summer break and investing that into something greater than yourself has tremendous worth,” Platte said. “The Great Commission really transforms students in their walk with Christ as well as their worldview and their outlook for their campus. When our students come back, I see a change in who they are and how they see other people and the genuine love they have for others.”