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Newton's Laws of Fundraising #88 - Sometimes the Racecar Needs a Little Push

Sometimes all the racecar needs is a little push.

I have a client that has been quietly doing a great job since their founding in the mid 20th Century. Their clients and families are raving fans of their work. Year in, year out they make budget and even put a little bit away for a rainy day.

So what do they need me for? Good question! And one that I sometimes ask myself.

I’m just there to give the racecar a little push. You see, even Formula One speedsters that touch 200 mph must be pushed from behind as they exit the pits. “That’ll preach,” as we say in my other life. But for nonprofits, you might be surprised how often that need necessitates.

Their signature special event has been done well and with financial success for 8 years now, but the past couple years, it has “found a higher gear.” For years, all they had done to approach sponsors for the event was to mail a letter out and see what came back. Because of their great reputation in the community, more than a few sponsorships came in response to that modest approach. But in the past two years, the racecar leapt forward as if it was running nitrous oxide.

The organization is seeing an amazing response to their event at a time in which other organizations are using phrases like “flat is the new up.”

What made the difference? A simple, back to basics approach on the fundamentals of fundraising—the personal touch.

The racecar’s push came in the form of gaining face-to-face appointments with sponsor prospects and asking for the gift over a cheeseburger. We also added a five-tier sponsor benefits package that included levels previously avoided. The push worked. New sponsors flooded in. The $1,000 sponsors became $1,500. They’ll cross the finish line this year having smashed their previous high total.

Want your event to “step up in class?” Get back to basics. Replace letters to potential sponsors with a phone call asking to sit down over a cheeseburger—or a salad, if you must! Enjoy one another’s company. Talk of noble things like the mission of your organization and enhancing the lives of those it serves. Present a blue-ribbon lineup of sponsor benefits. Be bold with your ask and let it sit there until your prospect blinks and succumbs to your earnest charm and the urgency of the need. Soon, you’ll be in the winner’s circle too!

For more information on taking your event to the next level or to explore partnering with the Partners, call Perennial at (309) 689-2809 or reach out to

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