Partnering With NASCAR
Hope for the Warriors (HFTW) is a non-profit organization which supports wounded veterans, their families, and the families of fallen soldiers. It provides a host of services, including clinical support, wellness workshops, and a career-readiness program. To support its work, HFTW maintains strong relationships with professional organizations, institutions of higher learning, and local chambers of commerce. It also provides vets and their families with opportunities to participate in sporting events. However, the non-profit had yet to establish a relationship with a major sports organization.
Hope for the Warriors sought to establish a formal relationship with a major sports organization nationwide to: allow for increased opportunities for the veteran community; expand its brand recognition as a first-tier non-profit serving the wounded and disabled-veteran community; and expand HFTW’s donor base in order to increase funding for programs. It was very interested, specifically, in partnering with NASCAR, as its fan base is very heavily comprised of veterans and their families. With these goals in mind, the non-profit enlisted growth[period]’s help.
growth[period] began by recognizing a key overlap between HFTW’s and NASCAR’s constituencies: One of every three military service members is a NASCAR fan, and roughly 19 percent of NASCAR fans have served, or serve, in the military. Additionally, both ESPN and NASCAR studies show that one-third of the average 6.5 million TV viewers per race are vets or on active duty. Partnering HFTW with NASCAR would possibly enable both to better serve their core audiences while benefiting them financially, experientially, and brandwise.
After conducting research and utilizing contacts at NASCAR, growth[period]’s senior leadership determined that HFTW’s best path of entry was via Mike Lentz, Senior Director of NASCAR Security, who has law-enforcement background and experience interacting with colleagues who are veterans. growth[period] then worked with HFTW’s CEO to present Lentz with a value proposition highlighting the non-profit’s achievements and explaining how a partnership would benefit the veterans community. Lentz, in turn, introduced HFTW to Jordan Jiloty, NASCAR’s Director of Public and Government Affairs, and the proposition, combined with follow-up actions showing the efficacy of the non-profit’s work, led to a formalized, five-year partnership between HFTW and NASCAR.
The benefits of the HFTW-NASCAR partnership were immediate and significant. HFTW’s brand recognition skyrocketed, and fundraising increased three-fold in the first year alone. The partners also co-launched “Drive for Hope,” a program in which NASCAR hosts military personnel and veterans at racetracks nationwide, introducing them to drivers, their teams, and sponsors to show how skills learned in the military can be leveraged to obtain employment. “Drive for Hope” also introduced HFTW to Ingie Skinner, then a NASCAR sales-and-marketing director who has since joined HFTW’S team as Senior Director of Communications. She has overseen a 40-percent increase in HFTW coverage nationwide, including live streaming of collaborative events between the two organizations.
In addition, NASCAR executives introduced HFTW’s leadership to senior officials from Oral B and NASCAR’s Ryan “Rocket Man” Newman, creating opportunities for new HFTW sponsors. Newman, in fact, adopted HFTW as his exclusive charitable cause, a sponsorship that was debuted at the Indy 500 Race in 2014, helping to raise more than $100,000 for HFTW. The partnership continues to raise awareness for veteran causes through ongoing programming. growth[period] created a highly beneficial, strategic partnership between Hope for the Warriors and NASCAR. It has allowed HFTW to increase its brand recognition nationwide, expand its footprint with the media, raise hundreds of thousands of additional dollars annually, and create once-in-a-lifetime experiences for veterans and their families.