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 of 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!
Water 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 personal 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.
In Part 2 of this post, I’ll tell you why…