Don’t Fear the Fundraising “No” – Part 1 of 2

The Susan G. Komen 3-Day® is an incredible, life-changing 60-mile walk, but first and foremost, it’s a fundraising event. Our whole goal is to raise the money that will fund the cures for breast cancer. We know that raising $2300 is a big challenge, but we wouldn’t ask if we weren’t 100% confident that you can do it.

In a previous blog post, we shared tips for getting your fundraising started early. But for many 3-Day® fundraisers, even with an early start, the fear of donors saying “no” freezes them right in their tracks. Here are my tidbits of advice for how to deal with the fear of the “no.”

Just Ask! – When anxiety strikes and the fear oftwo empty female teen hands pleading rejection looms, you may start to rationalize that, “If I just don’t ask, they can’t say no…” But you have to put it out there. You have to ask. Those funds aren’t going to raise themselves, and YOU are the vehicle for raising the funds. The Golden Rule of Fundraising is simple: You raise money when you ask for it. The number one reason why people give is simply because they were asked. To put it another way, you build the bridge between the people in your life who are willing to give, and the crucial need that their donations will go toward filling; and the bridge you build is the ASK.

That’s my first, my best and my simplest piece of advice for the nervous fundraiser: take a deep breath and ASK!

iStock_000008587305LargeWater the Seed – The first ask plants the seed in your donors’ minds and occasionally, that seed will take root right away and they’ll donate on the first request (feels great when that happens!). But for most donors, the real nurturing comes with the follow-ups. Think of those second, third, or fourth asks as water and sunlight for that seed you planted. With some patience and persistence, that little seed will grow too. (Plant metaphor complete.)

No Offense – I know what many of you are doing right now: you’re picturing your donors rolling their eyes and sighing with irritation as they read your fundraising letters or see your Facebook posts, but trust me—they’re not! Put aside the worry that people are going to be upset or offended that you’re asking them—even several times—for money. Think about it: do YOU do that when you get a donation request from someone? Remember, you’re not asking for someone to pay for your vacation or that new Coach purse; you’re asking them to invest in a cause that is important to you, and support programs and resources that are critical in the fight against breast cancer. I’ve fundraised and walked the 3-Day fourteen times, and I’ve never once had someone say, “How dare you ask me for a donation!” or, “I really wish you wouldn’t send me so many emails about your walk.” On the contrary, I frequently have people thank ME for sending and posting the reminders.

Go Fishing – When it comes to fundraising, I know that the in-person face-to-face ask is one of the most effective ways to get donations. But I also know that not everyone is comfortable with that level of intimate interaction (I fall into that category myself). That’s okay. You should definitely TRY to make the requests iStock_000002395266Mediumpersonal with the people you’re closest to, but you can also catch a lot of donor fish by casting your net as widely as you can. The results you can get from taking the time to write a heartfelt and captivating fundraising letter, and then sending it to every person you have an email address for, are grand. Yes, you read that right. Send it to every person you have an email address for.

And tomorrow, I’ll tell you why…

Come back for more tips on conquering your fear of the “no” in tomorrow’s blog post.

Fundraising: Ready… Set… Start NOW!

When it comes to fundraising for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day®, getting started early is the way to go. You may be saying, “But my event isn’t for another 7 (or 8, 9, or 10) months. I have plenty of time!” This is true, but consider:

  1. That time will fly by. You know it will. It always does.
  2. Our years of experience have shown that walkers who get their fundraising started early are far more likely to reach their goals. The ones who get started early don’t have to call a 3-Day coach in a panic with three weeks to go until the event and say “help!” (Though we’re there for those people, too. We’ve got your back!)
  3. You will have other things to do to prepare for the 3-Day as it gets closer (Training! Travel planning! Recruiting teammates!), so why not knock out your fundraising early? It will be SUCH a weight off your shoulders to know that you’ve reached your minimum early and aren’t scrambling for donations at the end amidst everything else you have to do.
  4. The earlier you get to that $2300 minimum, the more time you have to exceed that amount and bring even more dollars to the cause of ending breast cancer forever.

    donation screen angle

So how do you get started? Here are a few practical, specific tips to get things rolling:

  • List your BFFs – Here’s an exercise for you: Set a timer for 1 minute, and write down the first 15 names that come to your head. Think about the people who are closest to you. Your best friends. Your family. Your biggest supporters. The people who were most excited/amazed/inspired about you registering for the 3-Day in the first place. These are the people who know you the best, love you the greatest, and are most invested in helping you achieve your goals. They’re the ones you’re going to start with.
  • Ask – No brainer, right? It is, but you’d be surprised how often this one little step trips people up. Well good thing you have that list from step 1 of amazing people who want to see you succeed. Reach out to each one of them personally. Now is not the time for emails or texts. Make a phone call, plan a chat over coffee or happy hour (your treat, of course!) or write a handwritten note. It’s only February, so you have time to put in that little extra touch of personal effort. Tell them how much doing the 3-Day means to you, and ask them to support you with a donation. Some of you are probably thinking, “I hate to impose on my friends!” and my response is this: they are not going to be mad or offended that you asked them for a donation. On the contrary, they will be honored that you considered them important enough to come to first. Show them the list you made, then let them put a big pink checkmark next to their name. Carry the list with you when you walk. (You just got chills, didn’t you?)
  • Share Why NOW is Important – Sometimes, donors will respond to your request by saying they’ll donate “when it’s closer to your walk.” I call these people procras-donators, and you still love and respect them, but you have a great opportunity here to put them straight in their thinking. Tell your donors that the funds that you bring in to the 3-Day go to work right away, helping pay for research grants, local outreach, and programs in our communities immediately. Somewhere, there’s a woman who is seeking support from Susan G. Komen® today, in February. She can’t wait until it’s closer to your walk, so encourage your donors not to wait either. (And if, in the end, they still ask to wait, put a big red circle on your calendar for one month from today, then ask them again. They’ve already said yes and next month, you’ll be “closer.”)
  • Break it Down – No, not a dance break, though, if that’ll help you get motivated, I say go for it! I’m talking about breaking down your fundraising goal into smaller, less intimidating amounts. Yes, $2300 is a lot of money to raise. But how does $12 sound? With exactly 192 days between today and Day 1 of the Michigan 3-Day (the first of the 2014 events), all you would have to raise is $12 a day. That’s just one way to break down your goal. You could also break it down by week ($85.19 per week for Michigan), by mile ($38.33 for each of your 60 miles), or make it nice and round ($23 from 100 people). Makes it a heck of a lot less daunting, doesn’t it? You can do the “break it down” trick at any point, but the longer you wait, the higher that “per day” amount gets. So try it now, and watch those $12 donations pour in! (Oh, and any time you want to see how many days or weeks you have left until your event, just log in to your Participant Center on the 3-Day website. You’ll find the countdown right at the top.)

I know that the thought of starting your fundraising can be overwhelming, and so you put it off in the hope of avoiding that scariness just a little longer. When I feel that way, I always remind myself that whatever anxiety I’m feeling about fundraising is nothing—nothing!—compared to the terror of hearing the words, “You have breast cancer.” I don’t ever want to hear those words. I don’t ever want my daughters to hear them. So I’m going to keep raising money for the 3-Day, and keep us moving toward a world without breast cancer.

Starting now.

3 Ways to Talk a Friend Into Walking With You

Making the commitment to raise money and walk 60 miles in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® is huge, and the majority of Komen 3-Day participants sign up to walk and share the experience with someone they know. But even though you may be certain that the 3-Day® is something you want to do, sometimes it’s a little harder to talk a friend or relative into joining you. Here are a few suggestions for persuading someone to be your 3-Day buddy:HandInHand

1.  Share Your “Why” – What motivated you to pick up the phone, or to click that “Register” button on the website? Perhaps you want to walk in the 3-Day to honor the memory of a loved one. Maybe you’ll walk to celebrate someone’s survival of breast cancer (maybe even your own). Or it might be that you just want to face down the immense challenge of walking 60 miles. Whatever it is, you have a reason, and it must be a strong one to have made such a big commitment. Look your friend in the eyes and tell her why this is so important to you. Don’t do it by phone, text or email. You’re asking her to share in a very personal journey, and it will mean a lot to her if you ask her in a personal way to be part of it with you.


2. Offer to help. Then actually help. – The most common reasons people give for hesitating to register for the 3-Day have to do with fear: I’m afraid I can’t walk that far; I don’t think I can raise that much money; I’ve never done anything like this before. If your friend is nervous about the demands of the 3-Day, tell her you’ll help. Then take it a step further and work out a plan. Take her out to coffee and brainstorm some fundraising ideas. Go for a short walk together and talk about a training schedule that starts small and builds slowly. Ask people who have done the 3-Day before to tell you about the fun and amazing things you won’t want to miss. (Shameless plug: invite her to subscribe to the 3-Day blog and see things for herself!) Then, for goodness sake, follow through! Promise your friend that if she registers, you will help her get her first donation within 24 hours. Then do it! She will start off with a good burst of confidence, and that will inspire and motivate her to start running with it herself (so to speak… I mean, there’s no running on the 3-Day, but, well, you get my point).

Susan G. Komen walkers gear up and take on Day 2 to find a cure for breast cancer.

3.  Register Yourself First! – In my experience, one of the single most effective ways to motivate someone else to register for the 3-Day is to register yourself first. Don’t say to your friend, “I’m thinking about doing the 3-Day.” Instead, say, “This is important enough to me that I’m going to do it no matter what. But I’d rather do it with you. Aside from that, registering gets you access to a personalized online Participant Center—your treasure trove of 3-Day fundraising tools, training tips, and event information—so if you sign yourself up first, instead of telling your reluctant friend about all the outstanding support and information she will get, you can sit down with her at your computer, log in and show her first hand.

Seattle Day 2

BONUS TIP! – Share this video with your friend. Sometimes, you just have to see it to get it.

Many of our wonderful walkers will admit that they were hesitant to commit to the 3-Day at first, but I would bet that every one of them who took the plunge and saw the whole thing through would tell you that it was one of the best decisions they’ve ever made. When the chance to do something extraordinary is right in front of you, don’t wait! Say “Yes, I can do that.” You won’t regret it.