Top Team Captain Tips

Susan G. Komen 3-Day

Team: Hands Up for Hooters, San Diego 3-Day

I originally set a goal to expand my fundraising from $2,300 to $100,000 in one year, and signed up for the San Diego 3-Day. I had walked in three other 3-Days with two friends. I needed a team of 45. I ended up with a team of 69 and raised $148,000.

Here are the steps I took to make this happen:

  • Put a link to my team page in my email signature, asking people to donate or join the team.
  • Sent an email to 200 friends inviting them to be bigger than they think they are and join my team.
  • Began posting on Facebook with pictures of past walks with my two friends.
  • I stated I would show up at a local deli every Sunday at 8, rain or shine, for a FunDay SunDay one-hour walk along our river, followed by chatting about shoes, hydration, the 3-Day, etc. Seven people came the first time, then 12, then it grew, as I posted Facebook pics and tagged each walker.
  • Held recruitment contests each month with those on the team, focusing on recruiting walkers new to the 3-Day. Held awards meeting the first of every month for top recruiters, and those who had met their fundraising goal.
  • I communicate via email every Tuesday or Wednesday about upcoming walks, training tips, shoe info, etc. We have a very strong identity as Hooters, and have our little Hootie owl as our mascot. I even have a giant stick-on vinyl tree on my wall at work, and each walker gets a little felt owl on the Hootie tree as they join!
  • We do fun games each training month to encourage walkers to get to know each other. Like Human bingo (you have to find walkers matching info on each square), or getting a card for each training walk, then playing sit down poker at the next month's awards walk.
  • After the 3-Day I make a Shutterfly book for each team member from all the photos of our training and the event.
  • We have team T-shirts with a different color each day, plus we wear our Hands Up Headbands so we are visible. You could always find a Hooter by scanning the crowd for our headbands. We arrange a team photo enroute day one. Otherwise everyone walks their own walk.
  • I schedule an info night with a local athletic therapist talking about foot, leg, knee and total body care for all the Hooters. Also a night with a nutrition doctor. My goal is to support the team with the info they need so injuries don't sideline them, and to give them solutions when issues do arise.
  • We each do our own fundraising, but we talk a lot about various ideas. As a team, we do a night at a local Brew Pub where if people donate to us, the Pub gives them 15% off their bill for the night. It's "Hops for Hooters".
  • We also host Hooterpalooza—a big thank you party for our donors. If they donate $25 or more to any walker, they can come. Our team provides the food and wine or we have it donated, we have music and dancing, and a huge raffle (50 - 80 items!) More than 150 people have come. It's fun!
  • We had make us a Hooter pin, which we give to each donor as a thank you. It is different each year.
  • I encourage Hooters to dedicate a mile to a survivor or "in honor of" for a donation of $50 or more. I came up with the Hands theme so I could write the mile and honoree on each finger—60 miles/10 hands/60 fingers. Hand-y!
  • With an owl as our mascot, I buy and give an owl necklace or earrings (keychain for the men) to each walker as they meet their fundraising minimum.

Cassie's Cups

Team: Cassie's Cups, Twin Cities 3-Day

Cassie’s Cups has been a team since 2010. As the years have passed, fundraisers have happened, and (many!) miles have been walked, people start to remember our team. I think the fundraising is the most daunting part, but over the years you learn through trial and error what works best. No idea is a bad idea, and I always emphasize that we are a TEAM and while we have individual fundraising goals we all need to work together. Mixing in seasoned walkers and new walkers is great because we get the fresh perspective with the experience, and people come into Cassie’s Cups knowing that it is going to be a great time with an amazing team behind each of us.

I think that the first year is the most challenging; it is easy to underestimate fundraising and the training is time consuming. But, once you get to that Opening Ceremony and see the amazing crew, walkers, and supporters, you are hooked. Being a part of the team doesn’t mean you NEED to walk every year either. Walkers can’t make it the 60 miles without the amazing crew behind us. And there is no greater joy on the route than seeing those walker stalkers there to cheer you up, cheer you on, and motivate you to keep going. Our team has been through wedding, babies, new jobs, significant loss, and many tears. Once you become a part of the team, it is important to stay engaged in whatever capacity works best for each year.

I tell every new teammate, you are walking to support the cause! If your personal goal is 10 miles a day, that is GREAT! I want all walkers to enjoy the experience, not hate your feet and aching body so much you can’t stop to smell the roses. Set your goals, push yourself, but enjoy every mile the 3-Day has to offer!

And during the walk, as our inspiration and soul of the team, Cassie, taught me early on in our 3-Day experiences, when you no longer can walk, DANCE! Dancing taps on some new muscles, let’s your walking muscles take a break, and really puts a smile on your face and everyone around you. Always, always, have fun when you are walking.

Fundraising to me is the hardest part. My tips are:

  • Don’t forget to thank everyone who supports you (financially or emotionally), you cannot get to the start line without your supporters.
  • Get creative. People are there to support you so try something new and fun and I bet your supporters will love it.
  • Play on your strengths and share fundraising responsibilities with your team if you aren’t the best at cold calling for donations. See if someone on your team is more comfortable and then help that teammate with something they may enjoy less.
  • If you have time, do several smaller fundraisers that are easy to prep for and really give you a “bang for your buck.” Grocery bagging, gift wrapping during the holidays, online fundraisers, etc.

Walking the 3-Day is the most painfully rewarding experience I have ever had. It hurts, physically and emotionally, and is an experience I wouldn’t trade for the world. I have met great friends, amazing supporters, and the greatest people along the way.

Susan G. Komen 3-Day

Team: Coconutter Strutters, Michigan 3-Day

When it comes to training and fundraising it's all about having fun! At some point, sooner or later, everyone gets nervous about the number of miles or asking for fundraising dollars. Here are a few fun ideas that have worked for our team.

Training: We stage fun photo-ops and pit stops to keep the miles entertaining. It is a significant commitment to many people and acting a little nutty along the way will make the commitment feel so much easier. Our big training walk weekends in the summer always include sprinklers, a pool and homemade grahamwiches!

Fundraising: We try to tackle as much fundraising as possible as a team, and although it's not always easy, we try to offer as many different events as possible. By offering multiple types of events, you're more likely to expose yourself to a variety of donors. Here are a few examples that have worked for us:

  • Bowling Fundraiser - easy sport and family friendly
  • Golf Outing - golf pros/rookies or we offer a 'come to lunch only' option
  • Bake Sales - perfect to share the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® journey with co-workers
  • Specialty event hosted by a friend or association that is looking to 'give back' - this could be a craft night, casino trip, Zumba/Jazzercise, live auction
  • Recycling Drive – our area has bottle/container deposits and people love to give without pulling out their pocketbook!
  • Birthday 'social media' request - turning 35 this year? Ask for a $35 donation on Facebook!

Lastly, our team has a public Facebook page to promote events and achievements, but we also have a private page. The private page is where the magic happens! Some posts are fun and silly, others are tear-filled and inspirational, but overall we have fun, and we're there for each other during each step of the journey.

Susan G. Komen 3-Day

Team: Cliff's Crew, San Diego 3-Day

The best advice I can give new team leaders is: don't try to run the team. My team pretty much is a family. We love spending time with each other and I always ask them for their input on things, such as what do we want to accomplish each year, what do we want the shirt to say about the team, and how far do we want to take the team.

As a training walk leader, I check the 3-Day Friend Finder for new or single walkers all year to invite them to training walks.

Once they show up, I check how they get along with the other walkers and then let them know we are an open team and they are more than welcome to join us. I let them know how we take care of each other. If they are a slow walker I stay with them to keep them a part of the training walk and let them know they are not as slow as they think they are.

My team knows it's about the journey and the cause and we practice principles before personalities.


Team: No Walker Left Behind, Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day

To recruit new walkers: Have a friendly get together with photos of past events. Put your walking pack, the pins you earned and your fun 3-Day costume on display. Talk about why you do the 3-Day.

To encourage and retain long-time participants: Do something in the off-season. Short walks are a good time to ask potential team members to come out. Keep your training going and register for some fun runs as a team. Keep in touch with your team members; send Christmas and birthday cards.

During the event: Keep track of your team. Eat dinner together, check their tents, show you care. After the event, have an end-of-season get together with family members.

Training: Vary the time and place to keep things interesting, and to figure out what works best for your team members. Get some local running stores to provide water and a restroom stop. Keep the training walks as simple as possible with easy-to-follow directions or maps. Make sure everyone is walking at a comfortable pace and not having to keep up with fast walkers or having to hang back with slower walkers. Ask the faster walkers to sign off when they arrive at the finish if you are not there yet, and be sure you are waiting at the finish for the slower walkers.

Fundraising: When your team members get close to the $2,300 mark, encourage them to raise their goal to $3,000. Ask crew members to help with fundraising efforts to help walkers.

Susan G. Komen 3-Day

Beth and Heather
Team: BC Babes, Michigan 3-Day

I think one of the reasons we have such a big team is because we make everyone feel welcome, regardless of age, sex, speed or background.

We keep in contact with our team about once a week from June 1 until the event. And prior to June, we have at least one team meeting and email at least once a month.  

Training: We do “Tailgate Taste Tests” (e.g., what is the best flavor M&M, goldfish cracker, Wheat Thins and many others) to encourage people to come to the training walks.


Team: Angels for the Cure, Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day

To recruit new walkers: Our team loves the 3-Day and we talk about it all the time in person and on social media. We also continue to wear pink/team shirts throughout the year.

To encourage and retain long-time participants: Our team is our pink family. We do things throughout the year to keep in touch with each other, such as potluck dinners for holidays, movie nights, mud runs and more. I’m proud to say that we have 86% return walkers from last year and 31% return from 2008 when the team first started!

Training: Our training is very consistent. We meet at the same place and same time every weekend. Since we walk in loops it is also convenient for people to leave and join as they need to.


Team: The Ta-Ta Sisterhood, Philadelphia 3-Day

To recruit new walkers: Facebook and other forms of social media are a great way to recruit new walkers. Don't be afraid to show the world what you do, where you are going, what you have accomplished and what you need them to do. Positive energy is contagious and might inspire someone else to want to follow in your footsteps.

To encourage and retain long-time participants: Appreciate your teammates, encourage and support them. They will continue to come back again and again.

Training: Become a training walk leader, post walks and encourage your teammates to join you. Make it fun, but stress the importance of training and do your part to keep them on track. Typically teammates will learn by example.

Fundraising: Have friendly fundraising competitions. Set a big goal, break it down, achieve and repeat!

Susan G. Komen 3-Day

Team: No More Goodbyes, San Diego and Twin Cities 3-Day

We always let our members know they are a part of a team. “We are all in this together.” We give each team member a letter that lists all the facts of where the money raised from the 3-Day goes, so they are armed and ready should a donor ask. It also helps to have a survivor on the team who has actually benefited from Komen.

To encourage and retain long-time participants: I make 3-Day scrapbooks after each event for team members. If someone is on the fence about committing again, I give them a scrapbook to remind them of why they walk and to let them know that what they’re doing does matter.

Training: Because my teammates are seasoned walkers they stray slightly (maybe a lot!) from the training plan; they know what to expect now. But a new walker definitely should try and stick with the plan. I like to combine cross-training and strength training into my training schedule at my local gym.

Fundraising: Being a part of a team definitely helps because you can put funds raised by the team towards a member who may be behind. Matching gifts are a huge help. Ask everyone you know and meet who they work for. It’s such a quick way to raise the $2,300. My biggest tip is: don’t worry about the big dollar amount of $2,300. Every dollar counts. Break it into monthly goals.


Team: Pink Soles in Motion, Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day

For recruiting new walkers: Talk with everyone you meet or know. Let them know what you are doing and that they could be a part of it, too! Invite them to a training walk to meet and talk to other teammates. A lot of first-time walkers who are in need of a team come to training walks. Talk to walkers on the 3-Day, invite them to eat and walk with you. It allows them the opportunity to see what your team is about.

For retaining longtime 3-Day participants: The more a teammate enjoys the journey, the more likely they are to return. Regular communication by email is important to make everyone feel a part of things, especially when not everyone can attend team meetings. Invite them and their families to team socials. This way you get to know each other.

Training: Have a few training walk leaders on every walk so that you can have a leader and a caboose. Most often, the walkers in the back need the most encouragement. Continually talk to them and help keep their mind off of the walking and focused on the friendship you are building. Make sure everyone knows they can go at their own pace and aren't being left behind. Plan pit stops every three miles, provide water, snacks and have a great map and route planned (shady if it's hot). Also plan the route so you have loops back to cars if the mileage is really long. Some people may only have time to walk three miles of a 10-mile walk; but it’s better to walk three miles than none at all.

Fundraising: Fundraising is why we do this. It's not about walking 60 miles, it's about the money to find a cure. Set your goal high and when people see it they will help you get there. Make it a competition for yourself and try to raise more than anyone on your team.


Team: Feet to Beat Breast Cancer, San Diego 3-Day

When I started the team in 2005, I committed to walk in the 3-Day until I am unable, or until we no longer need to. My team, and anyone they know who may want to walk, knows they always have a team to welcome them. If someone needs to take a year or two off, no problem. Our team is there when they’re ready.

Having a team logo and mission has also really helped. We create shirts and sweatshirts that people can order for themselves or family/friends (and a portion of the purchase goes to our team fundraising). We all wear our gear year-round, which raises awareness and prompts folks to ask how they can get involved.

We have a team Facebook page for sharing our stories, efforts, progress and fundraising events. We also have a post-event gathering to celebrate. I compile all the pictures my teammates took and create a DVD for each team member so they can relive the weekend and share with family/friends.

Training: It’s hard to find a time and place that works for everyone. We use a Shutterfly Share site as a shared calendar, to schedule walks. Anyone on the team can put a walk on the calendar, so people have several choices. We try to make walks very flexible so even if someone can’t walk the whole way, they can join for a portion. For example, we estimate a 15-minute mile and list where you can park to jump in or out. Several of our team members live in other states and obviously can’t join any training walks. With the Shutterfly Share site, we can also provide (based on the 3-Day training calendar) quick access to the amount of training everyone should be doing.

Fundraising: Let’s face it, for most of us fundraising is at the bottom of our list of fun things to do. I always say to people who say they would like to walk, but are afraid of the fundraising: “Register. We will work with you to help you raise the money.”

We do several events in the community (spirit nights at local restaurants, bingo night, pink-outs at the office) to help ensure everyone at least makes their minimum. I like to provide that extra push when people say, “I’ve hit my minimum, I’m done” or “I don’t want to nag people”. I remind them that they are not asking for money so they can go buy a new sweater; they are asking for help changing history, and are making a huge commitment of time and effort by walking in the 3-Day. I encourage them to send that reminder or ask that person they are afraid to ask.

Susan G. Komen 3-Day

Team: Powered by Optimism, San Diego 3-Day

To recruit new walkers: New walkers keep things interesting! I believe that we all feed off of the excitement that comes from someone experiencing the event for the first time. To find new walkers, we offer an open invitation to everyone for our training walks. People come and walk and learn from veteran walkers and soon make friends and then want to be a part of that. Training walks are really the key.

To retain longtime participants: I think the key to this is the 3-Day experience. People who come back year after year do so because they have a tie to the cause, but also because they had an amazing experience the year before and they want to feel that way again. We offer a smaller-scale version of that experience each weekend at our training walks.

Training: You're always going to have some teammates who enjoy training and others who don't bother. Encourage those who don't like to train to try it, but keep your focus on those who show up to the training walks. Follow the 3-Day’s suggested training schedule mileage-wise to help everyone progress at a steady but gentle rate.

As the team captain, do what you can to make the walks fun and interesting. Get creative. Take participants to places they've never seen. Give the walks silly names and themes and make sure you have good route cards and plenty of bathroom stops along the way. I also enjoy tacking on coffee dates, surprise pit-stops, or group lunches after walks. And buttons! They’re always popular. I get special buttons made up for certain walks. Those who come and complete that walk earn a button as a badge of honor.

Fundraising: For those who are comfortable with asking for donations, encourage them to raise their goal and fundraise beyond the minimum. I also do what I can to connect teammates to host small fundraising events together (yard sales, spaghetti dinners, etc.).

Last year, our team was getting really close to a big milestone number and I wanted to ensure that we reached that mark. I broke it down (dividing what we needed by how many people on the team) and tasked everyone on the team – even those who thought they were done fundraising! – to get another $63 donated. We crushed that goal and then crushed the next milestone number, too.