Friday, May 15, 2009

The 3-Day: Fundraising ...

Hello, would-be and first-time 3-Day walkers!

This is the third in a series of 3-Day-related posts based on what you might want to know about this 60-mile adventure, which is actually much longer, when you add up all the miles you walk when you train. You are training, right? FYI, my post about training is here. What's that? You haven't signed up yet? Well, get crackin'! There's still time to register. And FYI again, my post about registration is here.

But for those who are already well along in the 3-Day process, now is the time that you're fundraising. And unless you have a very rich uncle or some other such benefactor, you probably haven't hit your $2,300 minimum yet. (I haven't either.)

And let's face it: In this economy, raising money seems like a Herculean task.

But it's not.

Yes, there may be more challenges than in years past – I had two supporters bow out this year, each of whom have contributed $250 in the past, so whoosh!, there went $500 I was able to count on before – but "challenge" ≠ "impossibility."

You just have to get more creative.

This year, I ordered business cards through VistaPrint.com for next to nothing. My digital camera wasn't happy, trying to capture the type on the cards, but you can get an idea of what I did. (I opted for text on the back for a small fee, but you can skip it, of course.)

Front:


Back:


The 3-Day web site has "cards" that you can print out and fill in with your information to hand out, too.

Often, when you ask people for contributions – and note that I call them "contributions," not "donations"; I think people react differently to being asked to contribute something versus being asked to donate something – they feel as though they need to contribute a great amount or nothing at all.

And while more is certainly better when it comes to raising money to find a cure for breast cancer, we're all aware that the economy is taking a toll.

But people haven't stopped spending money entirely.

The 3-Day web site has plenty of ideas for fundraising, but here are a few quick take-aways:

- Remind would-be contributors that contributions start at $5. Ask your caffeine-addicted friends and family to skip one weekly trip to Starbucks for a month – just four visits – and contribute that money to the walk instead. They can brew coffee at home or take advantage of the office coffee on those days. (These days, many offices buy Starbucks to brew, anyway.)

- Ask local business owners if they'll agree to contributing part of a day's take to your fundraising effort, either a percentage of the day's total or a fixed per-sale amount.

- Remember that you never know who your angels are. Here's something you can do right now to jump-start your fundraising effort: Go through your e-mail address book and pick 10 people (or 7 people or 5 people or whatever makes sense for you) who weren't part of your original e-mail solicitation and ask them for contributions.

I do this every year and without fail, at least one of those people contributes. One year, within minutes of sending out such a mini-blast, my e-mail chimed and when I checked my mail, I saw that someone had made a contribution.

I clicked through and gasped when I saw that someone I had worked with on a project a few months earlier had contributed ... $300!

I wrote to him immediately to thank him, and he replied that his niece had recently passed away, not from breast cancer but from another form of the disease, and his contribution was one of the ways he was honoring her memory.

You never know who wants to support your effort until you ask.

I know it might feel very foreign to some of you to ask people to contribute. Even after doing events for many years, I'm still not entirely comfortable with it, either. It's just not part of my makeup. But I remind myself that breast cancer touches everyone's lives, directly or indirectly, and that many, many people want to contribute.

Will everyone say "Yes" to your request? No. But many will. Fundraising is a numbers game. Keep asking.

And then make it as easy as possible for them to contribute. The online tool is as easy – and safe – to use as any e-commerce site, but for those who might not have a computer or who might be hesitant to put their credit card information online, I print out donation forms for them and fill in everything but the amount of their contributions. I also address an envelopes for them and stamp them (with a breast cancer stamp, of course). That way, they can easily submit their contributions, or I can do it for them if they mail the checks to me.

Of course, you already know to thank your contributors, and the web site enables you to keep track of your contributors and whether or not you've thanked them. Personally, I jot a e-mail (from my personal e-mail account, not from the 3-Day site) to each contributor as soon as I receive word of their contribution, and then I follow that up with a handwritten thank-you note, too. People like to receive mail that's not of the junk or bill varieties.

Opportunities abound. People are generous by nature. Put the two together and you'll meet – and exceed – your goal.

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