How to Recruit 65 Brand New Walkers to Your Team in One Year – A True Story

On the Susan G. Komen 3-Day®, it’s not unusual for a team to round up a handful of new walkers each year. But some teams set their sights a little higher.

Enter Sally Dunbar.

Sally is the captain of the 2015 San Diego 3-Day team Hands Up for Hooters, and she was simply not going to settle for a handful of teammates. Sally successfully convinced 69 people to join her team in 2015, 65 of whom were brand new to the 3-Day. I had the chance to speak with Sally, a delightful woman who is a 10-year survivor and 4-time 3-Day walker, and she shared her secrets to team-building success.

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Hands Up for Hooters Team Captain Sally in San Diego

Set A Big Goal – Sally is fond of saying “No big achievement ever came without a big goal.” When she registered for the 2015 San Diego 3-Day in late 2014, she set a fundraising goal of $25,000. “Then I thought, don’t be a wimp, make it $50,000,” Sally recalls with a chuckle. But even that wasn’t a lofty enough target for Sally to aim for, and she found herself typing $100,000 into the Fundraising Goal box on her 3-Day Participant Center. The goal was set, and Sally’s mind was set on reaching it.

Crunch The Numbers – “I didn’t even have a team at that point,” Sally said. “So I started thinking, all right, to get $100,000, I can’t do it by myself. I knew that I needed to build a team. I did the math and figured I needed 35 people to walk. With 35 walking, we could make $100,000. But then I thought, I’d better get 45 or 50 so that if anyone dropped out, we’d still have enough. And so I set my goal at 45 team members and started recruiting.”hands up for hooters

Start Early, No Pressure – “I started in December [of 2014]. I sent out a letter just saying ‘I want you to think about this.’” Sally stands by this soft-sell technique: “Just a ‘think about it’ letter. I told them, I’m going to send you a request to join my team in January, so just think about it. Then in January I started sending out emails, and I changed my signature on my email and whatnot.” By starting to ask early, you give your recruits time to get comfortable with the journey of fundraising and training that they’ll be taking.

Walk the Walk –Sally incorporated casual walking into her recruitment strategy long before anyone was diving into any serious training. “We started walking together in January, having ‘fun walks’ every Sunday. We’d meet at our local deli at 8 o’clock, and if it was raining, we’d have coffee, but if it wasn’t raining, we would walk, just for fun. In May we started a training schedule. We just marched on. We did a training walk every Saturday and every Sunday until the weekend before our San Diego event.” These walks became weekly excursions that Sally’s friends and family looked forward to, and the camaraderie that developed convinced many team members to register officially and start moving toward that big goal.susan g komen 3-day breast cancer 60 miles walk blog san diego team hands up for hooters sally dunbar

Face Your Fears – “I realized pretty quickly that people have the same fears,” Sally shared. “They can’t walk that far, they can’t raise that much money, they can’t take that much time from whatever their life is involving…” Sally didn’t back down from those fears, but faced them, inviting anyone and everyone to come to her Sunday walks, even if they weren’t registered 3-Dayers yet. “At the team meetings we would have, we would just talk about, okay, introduce yourself, tell us what’s your fear in doing this.” Getting face to face with someone who might have some anxiety about doing the 3-Day is a great way to assure them that they’re not alone. Even veteran walkers like Sally can benefit from this open airing of concerns: “I don’t know who it’s been better for, them or me. I was very fearful now and then, thinking, what if I get into this and I can’t pull it off? It’s like, you gotta be kidding. Just have no fear, girl.”

Dial Up the Fun – With her team, Sally created a fun and lively atmosphere and shared the team’s exploits frequently on social media. “Every walk we did, I took pictures, I tagged every single person, and we just made it fun. I’m constantly taking pictures and I show all those fun pictures, and so people just kept seeing what we’re doing.” This repeated exposure to Hands Up For Hooters’ good times prompted many of her followers to say, “I want to be part of that!”

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Sally and friends take a break to spell out HOOTERS

Any Reason is a Good Reason – Some people may hesitate to join the 3-Day because they haven’t been personally touched by breast cancer. Sally reassured people that that didn’t matter. “I would let people know, look, you can join because you want to lose weight, you can join because you want to get some exercise, you can join because you want to meet new people, because you want to learn new walking trails, or because you have a personal connection to breast cancer. You will end up having that personal connection to breast cancer at some point in your life, and being involved in this team will help bring you to that point, but for now, it doesn’t matter what your reason is. I’ll take you for any reason, it’s fine!”

Do Your Homework – Getting involved with a charitable organization or event is a personal decision, and knowing a lot about the organization goes a long way in quieting doubts. “I know a lot of people at Komen,” Sally says, “and I asked a lot of people questions so I could prepare my team for those ‘Komen questions.’ I read the financial reports and I read some of the research so that I could answer them. I answered all of my hesitations and my doubts, and I feel very resolved that there’s not an argument that someone could put up that I can’t address.” Chrissy Mathews, Susan G. Komen® 3-Day Program Manager, introduced Sally at the Friday night camp show in San Diego to recognize her incredible team-building success, and Chrissy reminds the entire extended 3-Day family that she is always available to chat with and answer your questions or concerns.

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Sally and Chrissy in San Diego

Calm the Fundraising Fright – Being afraid of the 3-Day’s fundraising requirement holds many people back from registering, so I asked Sally how she addressed her potential teammates’ fundraising anxieties. “I just promise them that if you send out a letter from the heart, if you do a lot of emailing, change your email signature with a link to your donation page and tell people what you’re doing…if you put it out there, I promise you will raise your money.” This up-front reassurance was also supplemented by team fundraising efforts that helped everyone. “We did a couple of [restaurant] nights at a local brew pub where, anyone who donated to us, [the owner] would give them 20% off their bill. We made more money that way than if he had given us 20% of their ticket.”

Donors Are Part of the Team – Hands Up for Hooters made their donors feel like part of the family. “We made our little Hootie pin, so if someone donated to us, we gave them a pin.” And the celebration of donors didn’t stop there: “We did another big group fundraiser, Hooterpalooza, where we basically were just thanking our donors. If they donated to us, we invited them to this party, we put it on, and at the party, we did a killer raffle. We made a lot of money that way.”susan g komen 3-day breast cancer 60 miles walk blog san diego team hands up for hooters sally dunbar

Keep The Team Energy Going All Year! – Sally shared, “We just really connected as a team, bonded as a team, and really supported each other. And then we would talk about the successes. ‘I just made my goal.’ ‘How’d you do it?’ ‘Here’s what I did…’ And usually it’s very simple. You just put it out there.” These weekly check-ins kept her teammates engaged, motivated, and let them know that they would be supported no matter where they were in their training and fundraising progress.

So…Did Hands Up For Hooters Reach Their Goal? – Sally was thrilled to share, “We raised $142,000. After we blew by $100,000, which was my goal, I raised the goal to $150,000 and thought, you’ve got to have an unreachable goal. I just hope by the end of the year, we can get our number up to $150K.” At press time, Hands Up for Hooters’s fundraising total was just north of $147,000.

What’s Next? – I asked Sally if she thinks most of her first-timer teammates will return to the 3-Day next year, and she responded with a confident “Oh yeah. We’re not sure yet [where we’ll walk]. I figured, I can’t have them vote without having finished this one first. I’ve been collecting prizes, and we going to have awards in January and just kind of wrap up everything and get things kicked off for next year, and we’ll vote on where we want to go. But San Diego’s pretty darn awesome.” And her teammates, it seems, have caught the recruitment bug too. “What’s really funny is, many of them on the team are coming to me saying, ‘I figured out if we each recruit three new people, we could triple the money, we could make $300,000!’ That kind of intimidates me,” Sally laughs. “But we’re absolutely going to go for it and have a big team next year.”

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Sally’s daughter (left) was one of the 65 first-time walkers on Hands Up for Hooters

Are you looking to build YOUR team? Don’t forget that Wednesday, Dec. 9 is the last day to take advantage of our $35 discounted registration fee. Encourage your friends to get registered today before the price goes up, and see the amazing things you and your team can do!

A TeamBuilding Tuesday Tweet Chat on March 31

Your Susan G. Komen 3-Day® social media team is excited to announce our second Tweet Chat of 2015 on Tuesday, March 31 at 5:00 p.m. PDT (7:00 p.m. CT, and 8:00 p.m. EDT). Since the Tweet Chat will be on a TeamBuilding Tuesday, our topic will be ways to grow and nurture your team connections for the Komen 3-Day in 2015. Whether you’re new to the 3-Day® or a vet, there’s always something you can learn or share with others on these friendly online get-togethers, so log on and join us!susan g. komen 3-Day breast cancer walk blog 60 miles twitter tweet chat

Never done a Tweet Chat before? That’s okay! Some people call them Twitter Parties or Twitter Meet-Ups, but whatever the name, it works like this:

  1. Sign on to Twitter at 5:00 p.m. PDT (or a few minutes before).
  2. Make sure you’re following @The3Day on Twitter.
  3. On Twitter, search for #The3Day, which is the official hashtag we will use for this Tweet Chat.
  4. You can also use the website Sign in, enter the hashtag #The3Day, and you’ll be able to watch and tweet in real-time with us.
  5. We’ll ask some questions to get things started, and we will also share tips and tricks from 3-Day veterans and coaches. This will be a great way to meet your fellow 3-Day participants and ask questions. Our 3-Day Social Media Team, Alyssa and Erin, can’t wait to tweet with you!

Not on Twitter yet? Here are a few quick tips to get you started:

  • It’s free and easy to join at
  • Go to and click “Follow” to make sure our messages show up in your feed.
  • A hashtag is a way to “file” tweets and collect them under a certain topic, so you’ll be able to see everything everyone is tweeting under this hashtag. Just search for #the3day in Twitter and you’ll be able to see everyone’s messages about the 3-Day, not just ours.
  • When writing your own messages, keep in mind that tweets can only be 140 characters at a time, so it’s best to keep things short n’ sweet.susan g. komen 3-Day breast cancer walk blog 60 miles twitter tweet chat

If you can’t make this Tweet Chat, you can always search #The3Day on Twitter to see all of the tweets that came from this Tweet Chat. Do you have any questions? Ask here, and remember, the 3-Day coaches are only a phone call away at 800-996-3DAY!


Time Tested Tips from 3-Day Team Captains: Part 1

Whether you’re a super solo walker or part of a team, there’s no doubt that you’ll have an amazing time on the Susan G. Komen 3-Day®. But if you are looking to captain a team, a handful of our top Komen 3-Day team captains from last year have shared their advice for leading a  team to success. Check out what 3-Day® team captains Mary and Roxanne have to say about recruiting new teammates, keeping team members motivated to fundraise and train and engaging with their teams at all points along the way.

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Team: No Walker Left Behind (Dallas/Fort Worth)

To recruit new walkers: Have a friendly get together with photos of past events. Put your walking pack, the pins you earned and your fun Komen 3-Day costume on display. Talk about why you do the 3-Day.

To encourage and retain long-time participants: Do something in the off-season. Short walks are a good time to ask potential team members to come out. Keep your training going and register for some fun runs as a team. Keep in touch with your team members; send Christmas and birthday cards.

During the event: Keep track of your team. Eat dinner together, check their tents, show you care. After the event, have an end-of-season get together with family members.

Training: Vary the time and place to keep things interesting, and to figure out what works best for your team members. Get some local running stores to provide water and a restroom stop. Keep the training walks as simple as possible with easy-to-follow directions or maps. Make sure everyone is walking at a comfortable pace and not having to keep up with fast walkers or having to hang back with slower walkers. Ask the faster walkers to sign off when they arrive at the finish if you are not there yet, and be sure you are waiting at the finish for the slower walkers.

Fundraising: When your team members get close to the $2,300 mark, encourage them to raise their goal to $3,000. Ask crew members to help with fundraising efforts to help walkers.

susan g. komen 3-Day breast cancer walk blog 60 miles team captains roxanneRoxanne
Team: OB Walkers (San Diego)

If you have a small team of family and friends, it is important to keep in touch and help everyone stay motivated, especially if you have team members who live far apart.

Fundraising: Group fundraisers can be a lot of fun, but they can also be a lot of work, so it is important to delegate tasks to each team member. Realize that the bigger the “team” participation is in a fundraising event, the less each person can realize from the effort. So make it simple. Always decide first and foremost: What will our potential donors like to do, and what will bring them all together to support our team so that we can raise the most amount of money? This sounds simple but can get lost in the excitement to create a special event.

There are plenty of shops, markets and service providers that will donate to your event, so have each person ask five locations for food, raffle items or a donated space. Each team member should have a personal list of friends, family, co-workers and providers that they can draw from as donors. Even if you are a family team, each of you brings a different list of contacts into the mix.

Start fundraising now! November seems like a long way off, but training season starts in June (for our participation in the San Diego event) and you don’t want to spend precious weekend training time on fundraisers. I found it useful to tell donors that my participation is a HUGE commitment but I don’t tell them exactly when the walk is – not for a while, anyway. When you tell your prospective donors in February that you are walking in November, they think they have all the time in the world. So set mini goals and email donors, “My goal this week/month/day is to raise $X.” Set a high personal goal of $5,000 or $7,000 and tell your donors that goal, not that you have to raise $2,300 to walk. This way you will exceed your $2,300 goal more easily.

Training: Training is vital, not only to having fun on the event but also as a way to bond and meet new friends. Get out and try different training walks to see if they are a good fit for you and your team. Short walks can be team-only events where you can share information and ideas, but going out with a larger group for a training walk enhances the experience. If you are new to the 3-Day, training walks are a terrific place to get information about the event, gear, hydration, nutrition and stretching.