Best Buddies’ Audi Best Buddies Challenge is a unique event fundraising initiative that combines traditional event strategies with high-level celebrity involvement and endorsement. At the heart of the Best Buddies program is the desire to promote leadership and development opportunities by facilitating companionship for individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities. To support its initiatives, Best Buddies hosts high-profile fundraising events around the country. Best Buddies’ Audi Best Buddies Challenge has become renowned for the level of commitment and notoriety achieved through its events.
Founded in 1989 by Anthony Kennedy Shriver, Best Buddies works tirelessly to help individuals with developmental disabilities lead full, independent lives that may not be possible on their own. Son of the famous Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Anthony was inspired by his mother’s dedication to the Special Olympics and founded Best Buddies to continue the Kennedy family commitment to those with intellectual disabilities.
The Audi Best Buddies Challenge aims to combine the best aspects of a special events fundraiser and high-class gala into a three-day extravaganza. The main event is your choice of a 100, 50 or 20-mile bike ride or a 5K or 3K run/walk. Participants are asked to commit to a fundraising level when they register for the event. In the two weeks prior to the event, contributors are asked to raise their prescribed amount or have their committed amount charged to their credit card. The level of dedication for this event differs from other popular fundraisers who offer benefits to participants who reach specified fundraising levels but do not require an initial commitment.
The Audi Best Buddies Challenge is a unique event, both in its value proposition and its presentation. The events achieve their high profile, in part, from the inclusion of notable celebrity sponsors. The upcoming June 11th Hyannis Point Challenge is hosted by NFL star Tom Brady and, depending on the fundraising level, participants will be able to attend a post-race lobster bake, concert, or VIP reception with Tom Brady at the Kennedy-Shriver home. Seven fundraising levels are listed, and each level incentivizes participants with additional perks. Although it’s 6 months away, The Hyannis Point Challenge has already raised more than $76,000 in commitments.
Best Buddies is able to utilize the full benefit of the Kennedy-Shriver name and previous connections as members work to build and package these events. Participants are drawn to these events through two incentives: helping the cause and wanting to be part of the event. High profile fundraising events are like a red carpet party to which you can earn an invitation. Best Buddies ability to leverage celebrity and achieve results has earned the event considerable thought leadership status because, while many non-profits are fortunate enough to have a celebrity connection, few have been able to leverage those high-profile endorsements to this level. In the end, it is not really the endorsement that matters; but what you are able to do with it.
The Best Buddies organization shows us that success is not always about the resources provided, but how you are able to use them. Participants are willing to make personal commitments because they’re driven to help the cause and to be a part of a tremendous event. This strategy provides an excellent model of thought leadership in terms of endorsement and packaging of an event.