Friday, February 05, 2010

The 2010 3-Day: Fundraising ...

Hello, walkers!

Fridays, for many, are paydays. So what better time to talk about fundraising?

I know, I know, I know that in this economy, raising money seems like a Herculean task.

But it's not. Yes, there may be more challenges than in years past, but "challenge" ≠ "impossibility."

And the 3-Day is all about personal challenge. You're going to walk 60 miles in three days, my friends! No one signs up for the 3-Day who isn't up for a challenge! Go, you!

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 ideas:

Wear some 3-Day gear when you train. Make yourself a walking billboard. Invariably, someone will ask you about the walk, which in turn will give you the opportunity to take a moment to chat about the event and breast cancer, and then ask if they'd consider a contribution. The 3-Day provides "business cards" that you can print out with your walker information and hand out to interested parties. Or you can use a company such as Vistaprint to create inexpensive cards with your information and a personal message.

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 people to save their change between now and a month before the walk then cash it in and contribute the total to your fundraising effort.

Throw a party, an Oscar party or a Opening Day party for your favorite baseball team or a We Don't Need A Reason to Have a Party party or any other theme. Be very clear on the invitation that it's a 3-Day fundraising party. Have your computer set to your fundraising page for folks who want to contribute online, or collect their checks and send them in with corresponding donation forms after the shindig.

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

— This is the most important thing: 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 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.

Update: In the comments, veteran walker Nicole posted this reminder: "Another thing that seemed to help influence some people was realizing they could choose multi-payment options to breakup their contributions. So in their minds, $100 over 4 months seemed much easier to handle at $25/month than all at once."

Excellent point! The remember the multi-payment option. It provides an opportunity for contributors to spread out their contributions but also affords you an opportunity to raise more money. Some folks give more when they know that the payments will simply appear monthly on their credit card statement.

You have lots of arrows in your fundraising quiver. Use them all!

Thanks, Nicole!


Blogger Ellie... said...



2:43 PM  
Blogger Megan (FriedOkra) said...

As a first-time 3-Day walker (Chicago, August 2010) and currently-very-angsty-and-discouraged first-time fundraiser, I really, REALLY needed to hear and ponder this insight. Thanks so much for sharing!

4:02 PM  
Blogger Nicole said...

Great ideas, Beth! Last year was my third 3-Day walk, and I was still surprised even then at a few "angels" you mentioned popping up with incredible and unexpected donations. Another thing that seemed to help influence some people was realizing they could choose multi-payment options to breakup their contributions. So in their minds, $100 over 4 months seemed much easier to handle at $25/month than all at once.

8:03 PM  
Blogger Mercurie said...

I think you have a point about the word "contribute" as opposed to the word "donate." The word "contribute" has the sound that one is actively participating in the event, while "donate" just sounds like one is passively handing out money.

Anyway, I also have to let you know I nominated you for a Creative Blogger award over at my blog.w

8:39 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

@Ellie: You're welcome!

@Megan: The first 3-Day brings up lots of feelings, but remember that you have a vast community of 3-Dayers who are here to help you and answer any questions. Ask away, anytime!

@Nicole: VERY good point about the multi-payment option! Thanks for the reminder!

@Mercurie: "Contribution" really does seem to resonate with people. With the grassroots aspect of political fundraising, we're always being asked to donate to something. It gets wearying. But to "contribute," like you say, makes people feel like a part of things.

And thanks for the nomination!

9:05 PM  
Blogger Athena's Armoury said...

Thanks for all of the ideas! I've been thinking about doing the 3 Day for a long time now. I think I can get myself in the physical shape to do it, but am completely intimidated by the fund raising aspect. I haven't decided if I'm going to go for it this year yet...

7:27 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

@AA: I know how you feel. The first time I did the 3-Day, I thought there was no way I could raise that much money. (Then again, the first time I did the 3-Day, we only have to raise $1,900.)

But it really is easier than you expect it to be. People are more generous than you realize. And you have time after the event, too, to meet your minimum.

I really encourage you to take the plunge. The 3-Day is unlike anything else you'll ever do.

7:57 PM  
Anonymous Jen said...

Hi, My name is Jen and I am a first time walker in DC this year! One of the ways I am raising money is by donating 50% of my profits as a Creative Memories Consultant. If you want to host a catalog show, I'll donate half of the profits from it to your walk. My email is and my website is Happy fundraising!

12:44 PM  

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