Monday, July 26, 2010

Lessons for Students

I was really nervous about the 3-Day a month ago. Really nervous. When July came, with less than 6 weeks until the Chicago event, I had not even raised $400. What if I didn't make it? I'd been training for months! I didn't want it all to be for nothing.

Have you noticed my use of the past tense? Desperation has departed and left nothing but gratitude in it's wake. In the past month I have raised about $1200 and I have two major fund raisers planned for this week. The generosity that has surrounded me in this home stretch has been amazing! I haven't hit my goal yet, but I'm only shy by about $550 and the next two fund raisers are big ones!

I'm a student and my resources are somewhat limited - to say the least. I sent out emails, made daily Facebook pleas, and planned many fund raising events - a difficult task for a team of one. But, I've learned a few lessons from my fund raising efforts and I thought I'd share them.

(I could have also called this blog "Facebook fundraising for co-eds")

1. Ask Mom and Dad. I know, I know - independence means never asking them anything ... but they money, and you don't. And their friends have money, and yours don't. My mom sent an email to her friends telling them what I was doing and I received $450 in donations!

2. So, your friends are broke and can't donate, but that doesn't mean they are off the hook! Ask them to donate sweat equity - get them to work a lemonade stand with you, or help you gather donations for a garage sale. Maybe even loan you their iPod for a training walk - a change up to your playlist can keep a walk interesting (though I am not condoning headphone use on walks ...).

3. Work your butt off - and post a million status updates chronicling that work. You might not raise a lot of money (between the garage sales and lemonade stands, I only raised $196.25), but people will see your hard work, be impressed, and understand your commitment to the cause. In my case, this led to friends telling friends about me and lots of donations. It helps if you also write numerous updates about your training walks.

4. Talk about breast cancer and how much it sucks, a lot. Honestly, the cynics probably think Pink has thrown up on my Facebook page as much as I post links and "share" breast-cancer related charities and articles. My friends now think of me whenever they see something pink!

5. Tell people WHY you are holding a fund raiser. Don't just hold a garage sale - post pink posters EVERY WHERE. Don't just have a lemonade stand, make it a pink lemonade stand and tell people the money is going to find a cure! I made my lemonade free and was just handed donations. They didn't want the lemonade, they just wanted to donate to the cause!

6. Be gracious. This should go without saying, but, alas, it must be said. Even if you are handed coins as a donations, smile and say thank you - that's one step closer, baby! Smile. Smile. SMILE! Trust me - it's worth it's weight in donations on the street.

7. Don't count yourself out until the last minute. Seriously, did you look at my chart? The majority of the money I have raised has come in the last 4 weeks! As you get closer to the date, people who said to themselves "I'll donate later" realize that "later" is now. Don't give up and keep posting your Facebook pleas.

8. Do you have a friend with a little sister or a daughter? Yeah - use them! Who can resist a little girl's flirtatious grins? They are the future after all and we want them to have a breast-cancer free future!

9. If you're in college, then you know someone in a band. Talk to them about holding a benefit gig. They know other musicians and if you're lucky - you've got a benefit on your hands! Seriously that's one of the big fundraisers I have coming up. Check it out. My neighbors are in band and when I approached them about a benefit concert they didn't even think about it - they just started nodding (the cool name of the benefit helped) and then spent the next weekend finding a venue and getting their friends involved. When we sent out the Facebook invite it went to more than 1750 people!!!

9a. Even if they don't know a lot of other bands, they can still dedicate a gig to you. One of my friends, Tater of Tater and the Gravy Train is doing that - and told his Facebook fans (seriously, good musicians have lots of fans!) that he is making a $250 dollar donation to me!

10. If you plead the cause well, you may find that those friends who can donate might just do it more than once. I have a few friends who threw $10 my way whenever they found they had it to spare - usually around the time student loans were disbursed. Go back to #s 6 and 7 - if you give your friends grief about "only" donating a little then they most likely won't donate anymore! But if you treat a $5 donation like a $500 donation then I bet you'll see a repeat from them.

The 3-Day is a huge commitment. Not only does your choice to participate affect you, but it affects your friends and family as well. I'm not trying to talk anyone out of doing the 3-Day - it was the best decision I've ever made. However, before you sign up, think long and hard about your ability to put in the time and effort it takes to train and raise the money. Had my event not worked out with my school schedule (and it's a miracle it did because I didn't even check when I registered!), I wouldn't have been able to train OR raise funds! It's ok to wait until you graduate - at least then you will have coworkers you can beg!

Until then, there are many other ways to be involved: You can volunteer at the 3-Day, help a team in training raise funds, or check out another Susan G. Komen event. There are many Susan G. Komen events you can join that don't take the time commitment that the 3-Day requires. Do what is right for you so that you can represent yourself, your school and the Susan G. Komen charity in the best way possible!


  1. Another motivational piece. Thanks for the info and the pep talk.
    Sometimes the pity party can lead to despair. I'm where you were and I have 87 days to go.
    I CAN DO THIS!!!!

    Thanks :)

  2. Thanks for sharing this, helps me a lot, I feel that I'm behind with my goal but I have the time to meet it!!!!

  3. WONDERFUL post! I will be CREWING in Chicago. Come find me in the Camp Services tent so I can give you a great big hug!! :)
    Jenni Booth

  4. I am feeling discouraged because I am walking August 13th and need 700.00. I have two more fundraisers coming up and I am praying that they will help. I cant afford to pay out of my own pocket. A little worried.

  5. Tonight's fundraiser (an evening performance by Tater and the Gravy Train in Kansas City) raised $408!!!!

    Only $155 to go!!!

  6. I DID IT!!! I reached my $2300 minimum!!!!

  7. All wonderful, wonderful tips! I think I have shared just about all of those tips with other walkers at some point or another, so it's great to hear someone else expounding on their merits!

    As you properly emphasized, in my experience, the more that people see how dedicated you are to this cause, the more they will donate. And you don't know it yet, but it also pays itself forward in future years as well. Many of my donors actually ask me each year if I'm walking again because they will save money to donate to me. They know that I'm really committed to this cause and that makes them feel better about contributing. The average donation that I've gotten from my repeat donors has nearly doubled since my first walk in '07.

    Great, great post and congratulations on your fundraising successes!

    ~ Kristen