December 17, 2012

"Ugly Sweater" Campaign Draws Funds for Cancer Research

Stand Up to Cancer, a program of the Entertainment Industry Foundation, is turning the tacky tradition of unsightly holiday-themed sweaters into an online drive to raise money for cancer research.

The charity is urging its supporters to see how many days—or weeks—they can bear to wear an "ugly sweater" and asking them to set up fundraising pages at with pictures of themselves in their unfortunate apparel.

Supporters are supposed to enlist their friends and family to make a donation in honor of every day the ugly sweater is sworn, and are asked to hold "ugly sweater" parties and seek donations from guests.

So far, the campaign has attracted $64,000, says Kathleen Lobb, senior vice president of the Entertainment Industry Foundation and co-founder of Stand Up to Cancer.

"We're always on the lookout for novel ways to raise funds for research," she says. "We thought we could take things a bit further. It's fun and a way to give back."

Movember Inspiration

Ms. Lobb says that she was inspired by Movember, a movement in which men grow their mustaches during November to raise money for prostate cancer awareness and research.

"That influenced our thinking for sure," she says—and the fact that many of her staff members are "ugly-sweater aficionados."

The organization is encouraging participants to share their ugly-sweater pictures on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram with the hashtag #uglysweater. It's also promoting the campaign on network and cable television. Ms. Lobb says that such segments have been viewed 190 million times; on social media, the campaign has been written up, read, or shared two million times.

The organization is looking to take on the concept as a regular year-end fundraising campaign. "I feel like we've already knocked it out of the park," Ms. Lobb says, but she does still encourage folks to keep wearing the sweaters through December 31.

She adds: "The longer, the uglier, the better."

Send an e-mail to Raymund Flandez.