Your Dollars at Work: 3-Day Funds and Komen’s Mission Objectives

Participants often ask me how 3-Day funds are put to use. It’s a logical question: If you’re working hard towards raising at least $2,300 each year to walk, you want to know how those dollars get put to work.

If you’ve done the 3-Day before, you’ve probably heard that 25% of the net proceeds goes to local Affiliates to fund community education and treatment assistance programs while 75% of the net proceeds is used by Komen on a national basis to fund research programs and global strategies. But what does that really mean? Here’s some detail to help make this more concrete.3DAY_2016_KomenInfographics_3_fp (002)

First, let me explain how Komen is structured: There is the national office based in Dallas, which receives funding through national partnerships, individual giving, and national programs like the 3-Day. And, there are also more than 100 Komen local offices called Affiliates, that receive funding through local events like the Race for the Cure, sponsorships, etc.

The funds you raise through the 3-Day (managed by our national office) and the Race for the Cure (managed by our local Affiliates) are unique as both programs have global, national and local impact.

At the end of each 3-Day season we total all of the funds raised on a national level to distribute to the national and local mission. So, the 3-Day’s local proceeds (that 25%) are divided at the end of each season among the 7 host city affiliates, so that 3-Day dollars have a direct impact in 3-Day cities. In most 3-Day cities, there is a single affiliate office, but in Dallas and Michigan, there are several who divide the funds to maximize reach and opportunity in their respective service areas.

Why is this important? Susan G. Komen has funded nearly $889 million in research and nearly $2 billion in community grants. Through this, we have made great strides in decreasing mortality rates from breast cancer, increasing 5 year survival rates, and improving access to screening and treatment for countless women and men. It is this combination – a balance between funding community needs and research priorities – that is so important, and a big reason that 3-Day and Race for the Cure funding is so unique.

In the coming year, a few of our primary mission goals are:

  • We are focusing major research efforts on metastatic research, primarily what causes the disease to spread from the breast.
    • Nearly half of Komen’s funding in 2015 went to metastatic research (23 grants, $16 million)
  • We are collaborating with other national and international breast cancer organizations to refine goals and minimize redundancy
  • We are working towards making health resources equally available to all, with a focus on disparities and why the risk of breast cancer is higher amongst African-American women.

Komen President and CEO, Dr. Judy Salerno, said at the Komen Impact Forum in Dallas, “I believe that in a generation we will see more treatments and more cures. You, [our 3-Day community], have been a part of this every step of the way. And we must support you so that we can be successful in achieving this goal.”

We want to make it easier for you to talk with your supporters and donors about Komen’s mission in action. So we’re creating a library of sharable resources on The first set is available today: Three infographics talking more about 3-Day funding and our mission in action. (Note: these infographics are in .jpg format below, which you can save to your computer and share on social media. If you would like printable .pdf versions of the infographics, you can find them here.)3DAY_2016_KomenInfographics_33DAY_2016_KomenInfographics_2 3DAY_2016_KomenInfographics_1

Soon, we’ll be sharing more specific details of how each local 3-Day affiliate is putting Komen funds to use in that 3-Day city.

This is just the start of the tools you have told us you need. This will be an on-going project from here forward as your needs change and the 3-Day program begins to grow. As I mentioned in my last blog post, we are forming a 3-Day advisory council (2 participants from each 3-Day city) to help you, the 3-Day family, have a collective voice as we work to meet needs, improve your event experience and grow the 3-Day into the strongest program it can be.

Stay tuned to the blog for more info! Thank you for being you!

– Chrissy Mathews


Fundraising Strategies for Returning 3-Day Walkers

Fundraising for the Komen 3-Day can be challenging for all walkers, whether they are walking for the first time or have taken the 60-mile trek before. When it comes to raising money for the 3-Day, new walkers have the benefit of first-time enthusiasm to fuel their fundraising efforts. They (and their donors) are excited about the 3-Day and making a difference in the fight to end breast cancer, and often that excitement can sustain them during the weeks or months that it may take to reach their fundraising goals.

But what about walkers who are returning to the 3-Day for the second time? Or the fifth time? Or the fifteenth? Many worry that fundraising will get harder and harder the more times they do it. So I put my head together with Seattle 3-Day coach Paula—between the two of us, we have walked/fundraised for the 3-Day 32 times—and came up with some tips specifically for returning 3-Day fundraisers.3DAY_2016_Blog_TitleGraphics_FundraisingStrategies_fp

Go Back to the Well — Have you raised some or all of your money for past 3-Day events by asking your family and friends directly for donations? If it’s a strategy that has worked for you before, use that strategy again! I know that many veteran walkers worry that their donors will tire of their fundraising requests year after year. In answer to that concern, I can confidently say no, your donors are not getting sick of you asking. Statistically, a donor who has supported your 3-Day fundraising in the past is more likely to donate, and will give more, than someone you’ve never approached before. You may think you’re being a pain in the backside by asking year after year, but with few exceptions, you’ll find that your donors are honored to support you as you continue your 3-Day journey. Your years-long commitment is extraordinary, and your donors will be happy to recognize that.

Be Specific — As a returning walker, you have a fantastic resource at your fingertips that can easily direct your fundraising: your donation history. Look at your list of donors from last year’s 3-Day (The Contacts section of your Participant Center has all of your donors conveniently grouped together. If you can’t find it, the 3-Day coaches can send it to you). Send each donor a personal message or note asking them to match or increase what they gave last year, naming the amount they gave in the past, in case they forgot. If every person gives at least as much as they did before, you’ll find yourself at or near your goal in no time. (Here are some other reasons why asking for a specific amount is a great fundraising tactic.) We’ve crunched the numbers, and 3-Day donors are more likely to increase their donation amounts over time, rather than decrease them.

Add a Gimmick or a Goal — If you feel like a standard fundraising ask won’t be enough to persuade your past donors to give again, try adding an attention-grabbing angle to inspire them. Say you’re fundraising for your 10th 3-Day; ask donors to increase what they gave last year by 10%. Or perhaps your lifetime fundraising total is close to a notable number (you’ve raised $16,500 over the past 7 years, for example); entreat your supporters to help you get to that milestone total (“Help me make it to $20,000 in 2016!”).IMG_8057

Don’t Make Assumptions — Paula emphasized the point about not shying away from asking people for donations because you think that they’ll say no: “Don’t assume friends and family won’t donate. Always ask them, and they can decide if they will donate or not.” Furthermore, don’t automatically assume that a lack of response means no; just because someone doesn’t donate right away doesn’t mean that they never will. Following up periodically with updates about your progress is a great way to remind procrastinating donors that there’s still time to support you. Many 3-Day participants report that it’s the second or third request that gets the donation. So don’t give up after just one try.

Focus on the Cause — For as amazing an experience as the 3-Day is for participants, at its core is an awful disease that has affected so many of us personally. Remind your donors that, while your 60 miles of walking is an important accomplishment and an unforgettable experience, it’s really their fundraising dollars that are making a huge difference in pushing us closer and closer to ending breast cancer forever. Share how much you—with your donors’ help—have raised over your years as a 3-Day participant (and if you walked in 2015, share how much your event raised in total), and let them know where those dollars are going. In the past 13 years, 3-Day participants and donors have raised more than $800 million. Direct them to for more information about how their donations are making a difference.IMG_8454

Try Something New — Mixing things up (hosting a fundraising event, pursuing corporate gifts, cashing in on the power of matching gifts) can be a whole new fundraising strategy for you, or simply a way to supplement other fundraising tactics that have worked for you in the past. Paula says, “If you feel you have tapped out friends and family, consider a fundraising party, or other means—market your talents!” And Paula would know; she has held Boobapalooza, her backyard fundraising extravaganza, seven times, and it has become a much-anticipated party that raises thousands of dollars every time.

Share Your Experience — As someone who has done the 3-Day before, you can show your donors the power of the 3-Day event itself and move them to generosity. Create an online photo album of past events you’ve participated in, or go ‘old school’ and make up a photo collage to copy and send out with mailed letters. If you let your donors see firsthand your remarkable commitment to the 3-Day and the powerful effect the 3-Day experience has had on your life, they will be inspired to support you with donations. Paula is great about making sure her supporters feel included in her journey when she communicates with them: “I always make it about what we have done, meaning my past donors have already ‘participated’ as well. I remind them of what we have accomplished and what we can still do together.” If you somehow got through your 3-Day journey without taking any pictures, we have some good ones at that you can use.IMG_7298

Say Thank You — This is particularly important if you’re asking past donors to give again. When you’re writing your fundraising letter, be sure to include a heartfelt thank you to folks who have supported you before. Thank them by name and let them know that your 3-Day journey would not have been possible without their help. Recognize their past gift first before you ask for the next.


Walkers who come back to the 3-Day year after year are such an incredible part of what makes the 3-Day so special. We’re always here to help our walkers—new and veteran—to reach their goals. Let us know how we can help you!


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!