3-Day Fundraising – Making a Difference, One Bottle at a Time

Jim Hillmann knows a thing or two about being a Susan G. Komen 3-Day® walker. He has completed 28 Komen 3-Day events since 2008, including all 14 events in 2011. This year again, Jim is one of a handful of walkers participating in all seven 3-Day® events – an incredible commitment! Participating in so many walks means completing an impressive amount of fundraising, so Jim employs dozens of different tactics and strategies to reach his fundraising goals.

Susan g Komen 3-Day breast cancer walk jim hillmann

He shared the story behind one of his fundraising strategies: recycling for cash.

“In 2012, at the suggestion of a fellow 3-Day friend, I began raising funds through recycling CRV plastic and glass bottles and aluminum cans. Although it began slowly with my first trip to the recycling center bringing in $45, the amounts gradually grew to $100, then $150 then $200 and more each trip to the recycle center.” Jim visits his local recycling center in San Jose, California about every 5-6 weeks. “In 2012, I raised $1050, then nearly $1500 in 2013 and I have already raised nearly $700 in 2014 so far, with the goal to break $2000 for the first time. Ultimately, I would like to raise enough to fully fund one 3-Day.”

Jim shared that the key to his success with raising 3-Day funds through recycling is not any different than what makes other fundraising methods successful: building a network of supporters. For his recycling efforts, he wasn’t content to just cash in whatever ended up in his own recycle bin. “What first began as two [collection] locations at work has now grown into four work locations, multiple people at church who save their recyclables, and a network of friends who do the same. The gym I work out at even allows me to have a recycling container that I collect twice a week.”

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Raising money for his 3-Day events is the biggest benefit of his recycling efforts, but it’s not the only benefit. “The super part, besides the funds raised, is that I also have the opportunity to spread more breast cancer awareness. Many people have asked why I am doing this, and asked if their help really matters even though it is only a ‘small bag’ of recyclables. When this happens, the door has been opened to tell them about our wonderful 3-Day community and all that it does for those affected by breast cancer.”

Jim has an inspiring perspective on the whole thing. “With our walks, sixty miles is a long distance to travel and we accomplish it by taking one step at a time over the course of three days, not sixty miles in one long step. I relate our walks to the recyclable fundraising, letting people know that a single given bottle may not seem like much, but bottle-by-bottle, can-by-can, they really do add up both in quantity and dollars. Through their individual gatherings, when combined with others, a huge difference is being made in people’s lives.”

We applaud Jim for his creativity and dedication to fundraising for the 3-Day. To date, he and his wonderful network of “co-collectors” have raised over $3200 total since 2012. As Jim puts it, “Not only are the streets and landfills a bit cleaner, but lives have been changed!”

Tell us about ways that you have engaged your community, and what creative fundraising strategies you have you tried!