“I’m too shy to ask people for money.”
“I don’t know that many people.”
“I live in a small town so my resources are limited.”
When it comes to fundraising for the 3-Day, we hear lots of reasons why walkers are nervous or hesitant about diving in. In many cases, that fundraising anxiety is rooted in a very personal place. Are you an introvert? Typically quiet and uncomfortable with confrontations (even positive ones), many introverts cringe at the thought of asking people for donations. Or in other cases, you not be fearful of asking for donations, except you don’t know very many people to ask. What’s an introverted walker to do?
The 3-Day coaches—all of whom have personal experience with fundraising for the 3-Day themselves—address these concerns from participants all the time, and they’ve shared some ideas and strategies that will help 3-Day participants of all personalities and situations be successful with their fundraising efforts.
Delegate to the Extroverts in Your Life – If you personally are uneasy about asking people for donations, go to some of your more outgoing friends or relatives and ask them to help. We all know those people who aren’t afraid to talk to anyone, and they are wonderful to have in your corner. Ask them post links to your fundraising page on their Facebook, have them stand with you outside the market to collect donations (your precocious and adorable kids are perfect for this job!), or task them with handing out your donation form to their co-workers. Your extroverted friends can be a great asset to your fundraising efforts.
The Kindness of Strangers – If you don’t know very many people whom you can ask directly for donations, there are things you can do to benefit from the generosity of people you don’t even know. “Start simple,” says Tara, the Atlanta 3-Day Local Events Coach. “Put out cans for change at local stores or restaurants, do a restaurant night where they give you a portion of the sales and all you have to do is stand at the door and hand out your flyers during the time they allow. You can make a few hundred dollars at a time with a bake sale at your child’s school, a garage sale, or by setting up outside the local grocery store with pink balloons and information on what you are doing. Even if people don’t give money right away, always hand them your donation form and let them decide to give later.” Your potential donors don’t have to be your best friends. The dry cleaner, your child’s teacher, librarian, coffee shop clerk, neighbor, mailman, dentist, hairstylist – any of these people may have a personal connection to breast cancer and would love to make a donation.
Start Somewhere Comfortable – Michigan 3-Day Participant Coach Jennifer shared this story about a first-time walker she helped: “She really wanted to walk but was very worried about the fundraising and hated the thought of asking people for money. Together, we decided to start with a group of people that she already felt comfortable with: her church. She got up at her church’s Sunday services to speak briefly about the 3-Day and about her fundraising goal. She was very nervous about this, but she know it was a safe and welcoming place, so she did it. Not only did she get donations from church members but the church itself gave her a check for $1000 directly.” Whether it’s your church, your office, or your immediate family, if you start by asking people you’re very comfortable and familiar with, it will get you going in the right direction and give you the confidence to open that circle even wider when you’re ready.
The Power of Technology – We like to encourage 3-Dayers to ask for donations face-to-face when possible, because that personal contact is really good at compelling people to donate. But for some people, the thought of that kind of interaction is just too intimidating. In that case, the internet is an outstanding resource. Being able to take time to write out a fundraising email or Facebook post allows you to get your wording just right and not have to deal with the awkwardness or discomfort you may feel with a face-to-face request for donations. The internet also allows you to reach much farther than your own immediate community. Even if you live in a small town or far away from your closest friends and family members, technology makes it so easy to reach them across the miles. The 3-Day has a Facebook app that you can set up to post on your behalf, or you can write your own posts on a regular basis that will reach your friends no matter where they live. Same goes for email. It’s fast, easy and free to send email messages to everyone you have an email address for (and I do mean everyone), and if you email from your Participant Center, your message will automatically include a link to your donation page.
Go Old Fashioned – On the other hand, several coaches swear by the power of good ‘ol postal mail. Alyssa, one of the 3-Day’s social media coaches, shared, “My favorite and most successful fundraising tactic was writing a letter and MAILING it. Snail mail, not email. People seem to really respond to something tangible like a heartfelt letter in their hands. Include your donation form (you can write the personal URL for your donation page on the top, in case they want to donate online), a stamped return envelope, a deadline you want to meet, and sign your name (with a pen! Don’t just type it). This really shows people you mean business and have enough passion to give them everything they need to donate besides the check and pen.” Twin Cities Local Events Coach Stephanie agrees. “Mail each letter in a brightly colored envelope or if you have young kids get them involved and have them decorate the envelope for you. Your donors will be sure to open a piece of mail that is hand-written and jumps out of the mailbox at them.”
Something In Return – Ann, the Local Events Coach for the Michigan 3-Day (and a self-proclaimed introvert) uses social media as her go-to fundraising tool, but she knows that people like getting stuff, so she also ties in donor incentives. “I often do giveaways, sales, or auctions and Facebook and Twitter are my main ways of driving awareness and participation in those events.” She also likes to hold restaurant fundraisers, knowing that hey, people have to eat! Folks in her community get a tasty meal and a night of no cooking, and her fundraising account gets a nice bump in dollars. “They’re good ‘in-person’ events because you don’t actually have to interact with people if you don’t want to. If you CAN manage to at least stop by people’s tables and say hello and thank you, you can definitely increase the money you raise with some conversation. But if you absolutely can’t bring yourself to talk to folks, it’s a-ok too, because you’ll still earn funds just from them eating at the restaurant that night!”
Don’t Ask. Instead, Tell Your Story – Paula, the Participant Coach for the Seattle 3-Day, says that you can send a powerful message to your potential donors without ever actually asking them for money. “Write a letter or a Facebook post to tell everyone what you are doing and why. ‘I have decided to do something I never thought possible–walk 60 miles over 3 days–and here’s why.’ Then share your own reason for walking. For example, ‘I had to say goodbye to a dear friend this year after she lost her battle with breast cancer, and vowed that I would honor her memory by challenging myself to walk in the 3-Day and raise $2,300 that will provide research, treatment and education so others are spared the loss of a loved one. Nothing is going to stop me in reaching my goal. Here’s how you can help,’ then share the link to your fundraising page.” Make the story heartfelt and personal to you, and it will become personal to your donors as well.
Team Up! – Many teams take on fundraising as a group, then divide up the proceeds amongst team members who helped with the efforts. “Speak with a coach to get you connected to a team,” says Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day Local Events Coach Gayla. “Even if you don’t live close by, there are things you can do to include yourself with the team’s fundraisers. Whether it’s selling raffle tickets, creating flyers, calling restaurants to set up fundraisers, etc., this is the kind of help each team needs to have successful fundraisers.”
Keep Your Expectations Realistic – This is important advice for ALL 3-Day fundraisers, introverts and extroverts alike. For the majority of 3-Day walkers, fundraising is a slow-and-steady process. No matter which fundraising strategies you use, more than likely, it will take you several weeks or even months to work up to your $2,300 goal. That’s okay! Don’t get discouraged if it’s taking a long time, just keep chipping away at it. If you approach your fundraising with the realistic expectation that it will take time, you will remain motivated to keep going. And as always, your biggest motivation to not give up should be whatever it was that motivated you to take on the 3-Day to begin with.