Fundraising for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® can be a daunting task, especially for a new participant. For today’s “First-Timer’s Guide to the 3-Day,” Philadelphia 3-Day first-timer Sheilla shares some thoughts about her journey as a Komen 3-Day fundraiser. (Spoiler alert: this incredible first-timer, who asked herself “how will I ever do this?” reached her fundraising minimum in only 6 months.) Do you recognize any of your own story in hers? Before I signed up to walk in the 3-Day, I had very little fundraising experience. In the past, I had participated and assisted in group fundraisers (i.e. school events), but not anything on my own, and especially nothing this big. Initially, the fundraising goal of $2,300 was VERY intimidating to me, and it felt like an impossible task. I was extremely afraid that I would not reach my goal and not be able to walk in the event, which meant I would disappoint many people, but mostly myself. It concerned me enough that I was actually hesitant about signing up at all. Without a doubt, I wanted so badly to walk 60 miles in October and I was afraid that not raising the money—even if I gave it my best effort—would leave me feeling defeated. I finally convinced myself there was no harm in accepting the challenge, and only positive outcomes would result. What did I have to lose? Nothing–and only a lot to gain. I had to think a lot about what my fundraising strategy would be. I am not good at asking people for anything, especially money. Even though it wasn’t for me, and was for a great cause, I knew I would feel uncomfortable. So, how did I raise $2,300 and reach my goal in 6 months? (I’m super proud, I won’t lie.)
- I signed up early. I registered for the Philadelphia 3-Day a full year in advance (in October of 2014), and used the fast-approaching holidays to my advantage.
- I had to be creative. I didn’t ask anyone for money directly. Rather I used creative ways to have people donate.
- I continuously brainstormed ideas and kept a running list.
- Facebook! Definitely a great resource.
- The fundraisers I organized were ones that appealed to the interests of those around me and seemed to be popular at the time.
- Fundraisers were an exchange, meaning that individuals “paid” for an activity, item, etc. with a donation, so they walked away with something or enjoyed some experience. Win-win for all!
Putting together fundraisers takes a lot of planning and time to organize, send invitations and follow up with reminders. Sometimes it was stressful because you think a fundraiser is going to do well and you have expectations to receive a lot of donations, but that may or may not happen. But that’s when you have to remind yourself to never give up, and move on to the next idea. Fundraising strategies that I used:
- Letters to businesses that I visit frequently (doctors’ offices, hair salon, gym, etc.)
- Used the 3-Day app, which automatically posts reminders every week to my homepage for friends to see.
- When a donation was received, the 3-Day app shared donation announcement, and I also gave a personal shout-out on my page to the person/business who donated.
- Advertise fundraisers on personal homepage as well as on the 3-Day Facebook page.
- Share pictures and quotes, and update profile picture and cover page with 3-Day images.
- Five Below (awesome during the holidays)
- Mixed Bag Designs (another good one during the holidays)
- Penny Social Drawing at a local high school basketball game
- Rubber Bracelets (either sell or gift to those who donate)
- Canvas Painting parties (huge hit!)
- 3-Day Business Cards
- Afternoon event at Texas Roadhouse restaurant, with games, baked goods and vendors
- Be a walking advertisement every day (this was probably my most successful strategy). I think the best way to receive donations is to share breast cancer awareness daily. By actively being involved, others will notice, ask questions and share stories, and before you know it there’s a donation added to your page.
- Home: my house has a flag in the front and other memorabilia. It serves as a “shrine” to the cause.
- Work: the office at the school where I work also has breast cancer awareness memorabilia
- Me: my tattoo, pink ribbon necklace and bracelets, and other accessories are great conversations starters. I am always talking about the 3-Day – training, ideas, etc. I especially try to talk to people who I notice also have breast cancer awareness paraphernalia. You’d be surprised the people you meet who are thrilled you are participating in such a big event and will gladly donate.
Other Ideas I’d Still Like to Try!:
- Stuffed Animal Sale – the donor pays for the stuffed animal and writes a message on a tag; animal is donated to local organization (kids with cancer, etc.) and the money is donated to your cause
- Magnabilities sales
- Bedazzle-a-Bra Contest
- Exchange your talents/skills for donations (for me, I’d teach a yoga class!)
- Poker or Golf tournament
- Designer bag Bingo
- Football or Basketball pool
- Wawa Hoagie Sale
- maniCURE—local nail salon donates money paid for manicures
- Restaurant Fundraiser Nights (Ex. Chick-Fil-A)
The advice I would give to other first-timers, or anyone who is anxious about fundraising, is to believe in themselves and stick with it. If they are like me and are starting out with limited experience, I would definitely be honest and say it was stressful, but that’s me. However, it IS possible. It takes a lot of planning, creativity and interpersonal skills, but it is an awesome experience because you learn a lot about the event, about others and most importantly, about yourself. Like the old saying goes, “where there’s a will, there’s a way,” and I believe this is true for the 3-Day, especially the fundraising. So first-timers, lace up your shoes, embrace the pink and face the challenge. Note from the 3-Day: Please check our fundraising policies at The3Day.org/policies before planning any fundraising events, to make sure you are collecting donations in compliance with our guidelines and your local laws.