Keeping the FUN in Fundraising

There are literally hundreds of different ways that you can raise money for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day®, but if your personality leans a little toward the zany side, your Komen 3-Day fundraising is a great place to get creative and let your wacky flag fly.

Here are just a few out-of-the-box 3-Day® fundraising ideas that have worked for other walkers:

Prom Dress Sale – The life cycle of most fancy dresses—worn by prom-goers, bridesmaids or wedding guests—is: spend a lot of money, wear it once, stuff it in a closet. We heard about an enterprising young walker who realized there was money to be made from all that neglected couture. She collected up used prom dresses from her high school acquaintances, got a local dry cleaner to clean the dresses at no cost, and then held a big sale a few weeks before prom and resold the dresses at discounted prices. She raised more than $800!

Trick or Treat for Ta-Ta’s – A few years ago on Halloween, Twin Cities 3-Day participant Jenny C. dressed up in an adorable pink ribbon costume and went trick-or-treating—not for candy, but for donations. She said, “I wasn’t sure how it would go, but there were only maybe 3 or 4 houses that refused. The houses that gave me $20s made up for them! There were a couple that took donation forms, too. And one guy dumped his giant mason jar full of change in my Boobie Bucket!” About 2 hours of door-to-door work brought in nearly $200.

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Pink Ribbon Jenny and her Boobie Bucket!

“Flock” Your Friends – I’ve personally done this one, and it’s a riot! I bought a couple dozen pink plastic lawn flamingos and then under cover of darkness, I stuck all of them in my neighbors’ yard and left a note on their doorstep. The note basically said, if you want me to take these pink squatters off your lawn, make a donation. Then, to add a wicked little twist, that family then got to pick which of our other neighbors would get “flocked” next. This is great fundraiser for 3-Dayers with kids; my daughters were my sidekicks in sneaking the flamingos from house to house, and our neighbors’ kids were absolutely beside themselves with excitement when they’d wake up to find they’d been visited by the flamingo fairies. Within 2 weeks, almost every house on our block woke up to find the flamingos in their yard and I raised over $1000.

Backward Mile RaceBlanche C., a veteran walker, crew member and team captain in Seattle, has held the “Cupcake Classic Backwards Mile” Race for the past few years. It’s just what it sounds like: friends of all ages sign up to walk or run backwards for one mile. These reverse-running renegades pay a registration fee for the race, which goes toward Blanche’s fundraising, and she also holds a massive raffle at the race itself. Oh, and of course, there are cupcakes at the finish line.

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These clever “backward milers” brought handheld rear-view mirrors

Dance for Donations – Who doesn’t love subjecting their friends to a little public humiliation? We’ve heard of a handful of 3-Day walkers doing some version of this, and the results are hilarious. Basically, you ask friends for donations of a certain amount, and in exchange, the donor gets to pick a song that you will go out in public and dance to. Naturally, you have to have someone there to video you as proof, and naturally, that video must make its way back to your donors (usually through the power of social media). I personally think that the less skilled you are as a dancer, the funnier this whole endeavor is, but if you can’t fathom busting a move in front of a bunch of strangers, you can try a toned-down version of “embarrassment fundraising,” such as standing on a busy street corner wearing a sandwich board that says “I Love Boobies,” or the like.

Which creative, fun fundraisers have you tried? Share your ideas in the comments section, and if you need some fundraising inspiration of your own, visit the fundraising library on the 3-Day website at

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.

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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.