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

So you’ve committed to raising money for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day®, but you’re worried that your friends and family will say no when you ask them for donations. In Part 1 of this post, we shared some tips for how to deal with this fear on your way to fundraising success, and today, we offer a few more thoughts.

Yesterday’s last tip urged you to send your fundraising letter out to every person you have an email address for. Every single one. Here’s why…

Don’t Make Someone’s Decision for Them – In looking down your list of potential donors, you may feel certain that some people on that list will, without a doubt, say no to your donation request. Maybe they’ve said no in the past, maybe you’re aware that their personal financial situation is precarious, maybe you don’t know them very well and therefore assume that they won’t be invested in supporting you. Stop it!

It’s impossible for you to know everything going on in another iStock_000013902975Mediumperson’s life (just as it’s impossible for them to fully know your life), and that’s also true about knowing every person’s connection to breast cancer. I’ve gotten some very generous donations over the years from really unexpected sources—one of my husband’s co-workers whose wife was battling breast cancer for the third time; a friend of my mom’s who had lost her mom to the disease; another parent at my daughter’s school who was a survivor herself. These were all people who I didn’t know very well and whose lives, I learned, were affected by breast cancer in ways that I could never see on the surface. If I had assumed that I knew their answer would be no, I would have missed out on those donations, and they would have missed out on the chance to honor their loved ones in such a meaningful way.

Arm Yourself With the Facts – Sometimes donors may be reluctant to give because they don’t fully understand or embrace the mission you’re working toward. Prepare yourself for these hesitant donors by having some facts at the ready. The 3-Day Fact Sheet offers details about the money raised by the 3-Day, and the Susan G. Komen® website has detailed financial information available to anyone who’s looking for it. Additionally, there are independent “watchdog” sites, such as Charity Navigator or BBB Wise Giving Alliance, which provide nonpartisan ratings and reviews of charitable organizations.

And finally…Accept the No – Giving to a charity is a deeply personal act, and every person will make their own (hopefully) well-informed decision. The truth is, even if you follow the rest of my advice to a tee, there’s still a good possibility that some people are going say no. You have to be prepared for that possibility, and accept that it will happen. It’s not a judgment on you, and you can’t let it deter you from your goal. Be respectful of someone’s choice, thank them for their consideration and move on. This kind of acceptance is incredibly freeing, and will allow you to keep up your positive momentum without feeling crushed under the weight of rejection.

San Diego Day 2

Everything’s going to be okay!

There are plenty of people out there who, I promise, will be eager to support you in your 3-Day fundraising. And the culmination of all of your hard-earned donations—walking in the 3-Day—will make every speed bump along the way well worth it. Don’t let fear stop you.

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.

“The story of the commercial is my story.” – Meet the star of the 2014 Susan G. Komen 3-Day TV commercial

Last week, we shared an exclusive sneak peek at the 2014 Susan G. Komen 3-Day® television commercial. I’ve been thrilled to see so much great feedback about it on social media, and one of the comments I’ve seen repeatedly is, “That’s how I felt!”  So many of our walkers feel personally connected to the story that was told in only 60 seconds.

If the commercial’s story feels authentic, that’s because it is. The star of the 2014 Komen 3-Day commercial is Becky G., a real 3-Day walker who participated for the first time last summer in Boston. I had the pleasure of talking with Becky recently and learning more about how she became the face of the 3-Day commercial.

with sophia

Becky and her favorite co-star

Erin: How did you first get involved with the 3-Day?

Becky: I lost my mom to breast cancer 12 years ago. I never did any sort of breast cancer events or fundraisers, for fear of having to deal with her death. Then in 2012, my friend Adrienne [who is also in the commercial] did the 3-Day and told me, “You need to do this next year.” I told her I wasn’t sure I was ready to deal with the emotion of it, but she really inspired me.

Erin: The 3-Day can be scary in a lot of ways, including dealing with those strong and sometimes painful emotions. But one thing I’ve always loved about it is that it’s such a safe place to experience that range of feelings.

Becky: Yes, exactly. Aside from having my daughter, the 3-Day was one of the best times of my life. Completely life changing. And what I love about the commercial is that it really shows that it’s hard work, it’s a commitment that you’re making. When I walked in Boston, on Day 2 I remember thinking, I don’t know if my body can take another step. We were just about to go through a cheering station, I was hobbling through. And the thought in my head was, “This is so hard, but at least I can see the end of this pain.” For my mom, her end was the end. That kept me going. The pain I was having in my knee was nothing compared to what she went through for years, especially right before her death. That was inspiring to me.  And to then go into a cheering station and feel all of that support was so amazing.

with crew

Erin: What was the audition process like?

Becky:  I did my audition over Skype. It was a total disaster! [Laughs] My computer completely crashed right at my interview time, then something happened with the computer on their end too. We only had 10 minutes for the audition, and we used 5 just trying to get online! When we finally connected, they asked me, why do you walk? What would you tell people? I figured the commercial was just going to show different people talking to the camera about their own experiences.

Erin: So you thought it would be you and some other people, each sharing a few seconds of your personal experiences. Similar to some of our other 3-Day videos.

Becky: Yes, that’s what I assumed. But then they asked me to read a line of script, and I thought, I’m not an actor! The line was, “This is where I want to quit.” It was so hard for me to read the words because I would never quit. Reading that line out of context from the whole commercial was hard. But now I understand it, and it was exactly what I had felt. And then that was it! I didn’t hear anything for a while, but then I got an email saying I’d gotten the lead.

making magic

Erin: At what point did you get the whole script for the commercial?

Becky: After they booked my ticket to Atlanta! They knew I had a daughter, and they asked if she could be in the commercial too, so I had some idea [of what I would be doing], but not the extent that they had storyboarded. If I had known that I would really be starring, that it would be so much me, I never would’ve sent my application in the first place. I would’ve been too afraid.

Erin: Sounds like the 3-Day! You sign up, not really knowing what you’re in for.

Becky: Yes! Knowing what I know now, I would’ve been so sad for myself if I didn’t jump at the opportunity. When I saw [what the commercial was going to be], the fear went away. The story of the commercial is my story.  I was terrified to do the 3-Day, and that fear held me back. But when I pushed past the fear, that’s what woke me up. I think of all the amazing people who are now a huge part of my life, who I wouldn’t have met. If I had let that fear rule my life, I would’ve missed it.

Erin: Did you have any hesitations about being on a national TV commercial?

Becky: Once they cast me, I was committed to it and I was all in. The big fear for me was [recording the voiceovers in] the recording studio. I am not an actor! They wanted me to read these lines, and I thought, “What if I can’t do it?” But it was with the most amazing team of people. They held me so tight and walked me through the process step by step. They knew when they could push me and when they couldn’t. They were so sensitive. It’s never been like me to feel that confident with what the world was throwing at me. But with this, I felt so confident.

in studio

Erin: Describe the experience of shooting the commercial.

Becky: It was all so great! I had no idea what to expect. When you turn on your TV, you just see the finished product, so smooth and glamorous, and that wasn’t the case [laughs]. One morning, we were up at 5 or 5:30 and it was freezing cold. They were getting a shot of me tying my shoe 100 times.

Erin: The opening shot of the commercial!

Becky: Yeah, and it was so cold, and after so many takes, I forgot how to tie my shoe! But then I remembered that there were women and men at that very moment who were getting up to walk, doing the same thing.

getting the shot

Erin: Wow, yeah. The Atlanta walkers would’ve just been starting Day 2, right?

Becky: Right. But it was all so great. I was surrounded by real people, and they took such good care of me. There were a few times that I felt like they were treating me too well almost! Everyone working on the shoot just knew that there was something big happening.

becky in shot

Erin: Was the experience what you expected?

Becky: No, not at all. [Shooting the commercial] doesn’t top the 3-Day, though I kind of lump it all in together. I don’t think anything could top the 3-Day. My best life moments have been my daughter’s birth, the 3-Day, and this. Discovering more about myself, and continuing on this path of service—it’s been amazing.

Erin: What are you hoping people take away most from the ads?

Becky: I hope that a million people sign up to walk! I really do believe that the more walkers we have, the more funds are going to come in, and the better chance there is that I’m not going to leave my daughter without a mother. I want walkers, because it means funds. But it also means of those millions of people, they’re going to experience a life changing event, and what that might bring to them personally, but also as a whole, making the world a better place. Looking at the big picture, what can we do to help? Since I did the 3-Day, my life has changed. I’m focusing on what’s important.

adrienne, saralyn, becky

Adrienne, Saralyn, and Becky are the three of the real walkers who brought the 3-Day commercial to life

Thank you, Becky, for sharing your story, and for so perfectly representing the personal journey that so many walkers experience over those 60 miles. I think it’s difficult to capture what it’s like to do the 3-Day, but this commercial comes pretty close. You can see the full 2-minute version of the TV commercial on the 3-Day website ( Becky is registered to walk again in Philadelphia, and you can walk with her there, or in one of our other 3-Day locations in 2014.