The 3-Day is 2 days too long

5 Jun

Uh Oh

Uh Oh


I was shocked, but not surprised this morning when I saw the news that Komen would discontinue the 3Day walks in several cities starting next year.  In my opinion, their walk model would not survive growth and the expenses would be too high to sustain the meaningful goals that the event intended to support.

A little history: Once upon a time, when the 3-Day, 60-mile extravaganza began – it was called the Avon 3-Day walk. avon3day They had rolled-out in Boston and since I was a walkathon manager at another breast cancer event – I had to check out the competition for the breast cancer donation dollar.  The finish line of the Avon 3-Day ended at the recreation field at MIT in Cambridge.  I was awestruck at the logistics and the sheer size of the staging for the closing ceremonies.  Daaayyyyuuummmm!  This was some big-honkin pink shit show!  I was impressed with the operations and was adding up the costs in my head.  This was no amateur production.

Avon hired an event company to produce the event, and the event company owned all of the walker/donor data and intellectual property of producing the walk. (Danger  – Will Robinson!) At the time, it was suggested that the event production company was paid with a percentage of the total donations, plus expenses. Many saw it as the non-charitable thing to do and received alotttta scrutiny in the press.  Years later, the event production company and Avon had an ugly breakup.  The event company kept all of the walker/donor data and looked for a new lover.

Fast forward a few years, and the event production company that Avon hired had transformed itself (and some leadership staff) to a new, less-scrutinized identity and began to date Komen.  This new event production company began to produce the new Komen 3-Day.  Avon still wanted to be in the long-walk-game and started their own, new event called the Avon Walk for Breast Canceravonwalk It is a 2-day walk that promotes itself as being a life-changing weekend. Personally, if I wanted a life changing weekend, then I would visit the Canyon Ranch Spa for a good detox.  Anyhoo – the event production company owned the 3-Day name and thus, Avon could not keep it.    Still with me?

To join the Komen 3-Day you must want to walk 60 miles and raise a minimum of $2300.  If you want to walk 39 miles during one life-changing weekend at the Avon walk, you need to raise a minimum of $1800.   Both event have a large, financial commitment.  Both events raise millions of breast cancer research and education dollars at each event.  Both events have huge expenses.

how much for the pink tents?

how much for the pink tents?

Fast forward a few more years, and the Komen 3-Day happens to be staging the start ceremony in my hometown.  Being a WalkathonMaven, I visit the starting compound and am once again in awe of the sheer size of the production.  I counted six, 18-wheelers full of equipment. I saw beautiful signage and gigantic staging. Staff and volunteers were wearing some gorgeous pink apparel. Again, the dollars were adding up in my head.  I wondered what percentage of the donations were used for expenses.  Oh – and since the event was a multiple-day-ordeal, they had to feed, bathe, massage, shelter, clothe and medically care for their walkers.  And volunteers.  And staff. Many of the services were donated, but not all of them.  It adds up.

I was not the only person questioning the percentage.  The spokespeople would respond to the media scrutiny by saying that they raise more money than any other breast cancer event.  True, but what percent of that actually goes to the intended recipients?  Komen never released the data.  If they did, I did not see it.  Charity Navigator gives Komen a good rating, but there is not a breakdown of event expenses.  The Race for the Cure (3-hour event) has lower expenses that the 3-Day (72-hour event) due to the sheer size and scope of traveled real estate and logistics.

Last year, Komen received additional scrutiny for ceasing to fund Planned Parenthood.  Donations dropped due to the outrage and bad press.  Komen’s CEO and Susan Komen’s sister, Nancy Brinker, supposedly resigned but recently received a 64% pay raise last year.  Hmmmm.  Donations continued to drop.

My educated guess is that the organization had to cut-loose some of the underperforming 3-Day events due to the expenses, so that they could continue to pursue their mission with other events that cost less to produce.  I wish them luck, since we need events to continue raising money to rid the earth of breast cancer.

pink ribbon



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