Dry July is a classic Triple Win
Brett MacDonald, CEO of Dry July, said in a radio interview that Dry July is a win-win. I reckon it’s a Triple Win at least, so I arranged an interview to discuss the wins of the campaign.
The mood of Dry July is humble and down to earth, yet it’s an incredibly successful campaign. No hype, no ego, just the result of a few guys strolling into a bar (that’s right, it’s true that it started that way) and discussing quitting alcohol for a month. That was a long time ago, and that year the fundraising happened as a response to all the questions they had to answer about why they weren’t drinking that month. They decided to raise money for a TV in a hospital waiting room and asked their friends and families to sponsor them not drinking for the month. It was July, and they called it Dry July.
Brett and his mates thought they would raise around $3,000 for the TV, but they raised over $250,000 that first year, as others took up the challenge with them. Today, a decade later, by the third day of Dry July, the campaign had already raised more than ten times the total of the first year. The counter on the website said $2,733,483 had already been raised this July, and predictions are around the $5 million mark for the total to be raised this year. With more than 30,000 people currently signed up, this is a remarkable campaign.
DRY JULY IS A TRIPLE WIN CAMPAIGN.
The Dry July website says:
“In July, an average of 11,526 Australians will be diagnosed with cancer. No one asks for cancer, so we’re asking Aussies to help, and go dry this July to raise funds for people affected by cancer.
Funds raised through Dry July go towards cancer support organisations across Australia, to help improve patient comfort, care and wellbeing.
Having a month off alcohol also has great health benefits, such as sleeping better, having more energy and of course, no hangovers! So, you’re not only helping others; you’re helping yourself. It’s a win-win!”
But I see it not as a win-win but as a Triple Win. I explained to Brett that I define a Triple Win as “Wins for you, those around you and the world”. A Triple Win works best when those who are benefiting look for ways to contribute, and those who contribute look for ways to benefit. When this happens, and the Triple Win is visible, there are often spin-offs with unexpected wins for all.
Together Brett and I unpacked Dry July through a Triple Win lens:
1. WINS FOR THE PARTICIPANT.
The obvious benefit is that the participant is healthier because of a month of not drinking (and sometimes continued reduction of alcohol). Brett says that many people reassess the role alcohol plays in their lives. At the same time, they feel good about contributing to a range of services and organisations who work with cancer in one way or another. They also feel a sense of belonging to a bigger campaign and something that makes a difference.
2. WINS FOR THOSE AROUND THE PARTICIPANT.
Supporters sponsor their mate for the Dry July campaign and feel great supporting the organisations the campaign supports. They might have a sense of doing something useful even if they don’t go dry themselves. Some large organisations match the funding of the staff who participate and even encourage all their staff to participate. Partners and families benefit when someone who drinks a lot, stops for a bit. This is often reported as a win.
3. WINS FOR THE COMMUNITY AND THE WORLD.
To date, the campaign has raised $30 million for people affected by cancer and provided funding to more than 1,000 projects that support cancer survivors. More than 130,000 people have participated since Dry July started. Read that again, slowly. That’s an incredible contribution.
Dry July is excellent incidental marketing for the causes it supports which frees those projects to focus more on what they do and less on marketing.
There are core beneficiaries and a foundation that offers funding through an application process. One of the great commitments the campaign has made is to ensure the participants know where their funds are going and to be kept updated. Their funds are spread to help in the best way possible.
In short, there really are wins for all. As Brett points out, cancer doesn’t discriminate. Any of us might need the services at some time, and Dry July makes those services stronger and more available.
WHAT ABOUT THE SPIN-OFFS OF DRY JULY?
I asked Brett for stories of unexpected spin-offs from the campaign. Here are a few:
- A woman who struggled to fall pregnant contacted us to say she had fallen pregnant after Dry July.
- A number of parents have let us know that they couldn’t get their adult children to reduce their drinking but managed to persuade them to do Dry July. Through the campaign, they noticed that alcohol had become a problem and they did something about it.
- Brett often meets beneficiaries of the funding through the project the campaign funds, and he particularly remembers the cancer survivor who was grateful for a massage paid for by funds from the campaign, and another who was thrilled to have used equipment that was provided through funds of the campaign. As Australia is a land of people who drink regularly and in so many social and work settings, I was interested to hear Brett’s closing comments which seal the Triple Win thinking for me.
People come to their own conclusions about alcohol. We don’t go out on a hard line about alcohol and the role it plays in people’s lives. Instead, people work it out for themselves. We just connect the dry month of July to the contribution to cancer prevention and care and all kinds of wonderful stories emerge. Like so many others, cancer has had a huge impact on my life, and this campaign offers the opportunity to raise awareness about cancer and how it doesn’t discriminate. It gives us the opportunity to do something about cancer. It gives us a chance to document patient stories. And along the way, it offers health benefits of giving up alcohol, even for a short time. Many people continue to be more aware of their alcohol intake and the role it plays in their lives and choose to do something that changes it.
We like to think of it as a light-hearted campaign, but it has its impact. More than we could ever have dreamed of when we started.
I don’t think a Triple Win gets much better than that.
One more thing. If you want to sign up but are worried about that one occasion where you really want to drink during July (like a birthday or graduation) I heard Brett say on the radio that you can do that. For a fee! A fee towards Dry July’s fundraising target.
There really is no excuse. Just do it. About 5% of participants sign up after the month has started; you’ll be in good company if you sign up now.
I’d love to hear your story of Dry July.