3-Day Fundraising – Making a Difference, One Bottle at a Time

Jim Hillmann knows a thing or two about being a Susan G. Komen 3-Day® walker. He has completed 28 Komen 3-Day events since 2008, including all 14 events in 2011. This year again, Jim is one of a handful of walkers participating in all seven 3-Day® events – an incredible commitment! Participating in so many walks means completing an impressive amount of fundraising, so Jim employs dozens of different tactics and strategies to reach his fundraising goals.

Susan g Komen 3-Day breast cancer walk jim hillmann

He shared the story behind one of his fundraising strategies: recycling for cash.

“In 2012, at the suggestion of a fellow 3-Day friend, I began raising funds through recycling CRV plastic and glass bottles and aluminum cans. Although it began slowly with my first trip to the recycling center bringing in $45, the amounts gradually grew to $100, then $150 then $200 and more each trip to the recycle center.” Jim visits his local recycling center in San Jose, California about every 5-6 weeks. “In 2012, I raised $1050, then nearly $1500 in 2013 and I have already raised nearly $700 in 2014 so far, with the goal to break $2000 for the first time. Ultimately, I would like to raise enough to fully fund one 3-Day.”

Jim shared that the key to his success with raising 3-Day funds through recycling is not any different than what makes other fundraising methods successful: building a network of supporters. For his recycling efforts, he wasn’t content to just cash in whatever ended up in his own recycle bin. “What first began as two [collection] locations at work has now grown into four work locations, multiple people at church who save their recyclables, and a network of friends who do the same. The gym I work out at even allows me to have a recycling container that I collect twice a week.”

Komen_3Day_jim hillmann_recycle fundraising

Raising money for his 3-Day events is the biggest benefit of his recycling efforts, but it’s not the only benefit. “The super part, besides the funds raised, is that I also have the opportunity to spread more breast cancer awareness. Many people have asked why I am doing this, and asked if their help really matters even though it is only a ‘small bag’ of recyclables. When this happens, the door has been opened to tell them about our wonderful 3-Day community and all that it does for those affected by breast cancer.”

Jim has an inspiring perspective on the whole thing. “With our walks, sixty miles is a long distance to travel and we accomplish it by taking one step at a time over the course of three days, not sixty miles in one long step. I relate our walks to the recyclable fundraising, letting people know that a single given bottle may not seem like much, but bottle-by-bottle, can-by-can, they really do add up both in quantity and dollars. Through their individual gatherings, when combined with others, a huge difference is being made in people’s lives.”

We applaud Jim for his creativity and dedication to fundraising for the 3-Day. To date, he and his wonderful network of “co-collectors” have raised over $3200 total since 2012. As Jim puts it, “Not only are the streets and landfills a bit cleaner, but lives have been changed!”

Tell us about ways that you have engaged your community, and what creative fundraising strategies you have you tried!

3-Day Fundraising Events are the Thing to Do!

Susan G. Komen 3-Day® participants reach their fundraising goals in dozens of different ways, but some of the most successful Komen 3-Day fundraisers are those folks who employ several different strategies to raise money. In general, it’s a good idea to mix up your fundraising approaches, and one of the most effective methods you can incorporate is holding a fundraising event.

Event = Just About Anything!
Think of a 3-Day® fundraising event as being any organized effort to get people together and collect donations. These events range from simple (a wine and cheese night in your home or a casual backyard “Boob-B-Q”), to more elaborate (a Bowl-a-thon or live music show), to downright extravagant (a fashion show or benefit play). The more work you put in to organizing a fundraising event, the more money you’re likely to get out of it, but any size event can be tremendously successful if you follow a few basic guidelines.

susan g. komen 3-Day breast cancer walk fundraiser fundraising beauty pageant

Philadelphia team Breastasaurus Rex has held an adorable and very successful “Pretty in Pink” beauty pageant fundraiser for several years                     

Don’t Apologize for Fundraising 
When you publicize your event and invite friends, family members, co-workers and neighbors, make it very clear that your intent is to raise money. Don’t hide it and don’t apologize for it. Put the expectation in your guests’ minds that they will be giving to your fundraising efforts, and then…

Make it Worth Their While
As charitable as your friends and family members may be, and as much as they want to support you out of the goodness of their hearts, the truth is, some will probably be more inclined to give (or to give more) if they get a little something back. Holding a fundraising event accomplishes both goals: it gets donations for you and it gives your donors a fun, memorable experience. And it’s okay if you attract folks who are more excited about the party than the cause—whatever gets them in the door! The more elaborate or unusual the event it, the more that “can’t miss” factor increases. Yes, big and bold events will take more work on your part, but we’ve known such events to yield $10,000 to 20,000 in a single night.


Get Stuff, Give Stuff

The less you have to spend out of pocket on venue, food or beverages, the more you’ll be able to return to your fundraising efforts. Go around to local businesses, call in favors and get stuff donated for your fundraiser. Many vendors will offer discounted or free goods and services in exchange for free advertising at your event, so don’t be afraid to ask.You can even sweeten the deal by agreeing to put their name/logo on a shirt you wear on the 3-Day itself. The same goes for small donated items that you can give as party favors or bigger donations that you can raffle or auction off at your event. If your guests have the chance to walk away with some fun swag, they’ll be more likely to open their wallets generously.

Team Up!
If you are part of a 3-Day team, fundraising events are a great way for the whole team to get involved. When you can divide up the to-do’s of organizing and executing a fabulous party, it makes the job easier for everyone (one person secures a venue, another arranges entertainment, a few others are tasked with getting raffle prizes donates…). And think about it: if you have 50 people you would invite to a fundraiser, that’s 50 possible donors. But if you and 4 teammates each invite 50 people, suddenly you have 250 potential donors (and a lot more excitement at your event!).

These are just a few tasty tidbits to get your wheels turning about a fundraising event. You can find out lots more by clicking here, or you can call the coaches at 800-996-3DAY.

3 Ways to Get a Donation in 10 Minutes or Less

So you haven’t started fundraising for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® yet. It’s okay!

Don’t panic, and don’t stress yourself out right now by thinking about the full amount you want to raise. You will get there in time but for today, make it your goal to simply to get that first donation and get yourself off of $0. Our years of fundraising experience on the Komen 3-Day have shown that once you get the first donation, you are statistically much more likely to get the rest. You just have to get the ball rolling!

Here are some easy ways that you can get that first donation in 10 minutes or less.

  1. Go With Who You Know – If you have done the 3-Day or other fundraising events in the past, shoot a personal email (or even better, send a handwritten note) to someone who has donated to you before. Reaching out to a past donor eliminates the “what if they’re not interested in donating?” fear that many people have. Thank them for their past support and invite them to be your first donor of 2014. (And if this will be your first 3-Day event, ask your best friend, mom, spouse or roommate to be your first donor!) Time spent: 10 minutes.
  2. Help Yourself – Making a donation to yourself might cause you to cringe a little bit; most walkers count on raising their 3-Day® funds through donations from other people, not having to cover the amount themselves. In all likelihood, that’s how you’ll do it too, but for now, we’re just trying to get you off of that $0 balance. You can do that in an instant by donating to your own efforts. Make it meaningful and purposeful. Make a $60 donation in honor of the 60 miles you’ll walk, but break it into four monthly payments of $15. That’s the same as giving up 3 lattes a month. Time spent: 4-5 minutes

  3. Issue a Challenge – Fundraising on Facebook is one of the most popular strategies these days, and a fundraising ask on social media often results in immediate responses. Using a gimmick to generate interest and excitement from your potential donors is extremely effective. Issue a Facebook challenge to your friends, asking them to help you “Ditch the Zero,” or specifically tag 10 friends, asking them for $23 each, and call them your “10% Club.” Time spent: 7 minutes

Need more fundraising ideas? Visit The3Day.org/fundraising and get inspired to get started!