Chal­lenge fundrais­ing – lessons in ask­ing and thank­ing, from Ken Burnett’s 500-mile walk

Think­ing about tak­ing on a big chal­lenge for a cause you love? You could jump out of a plane, you could run a marathon, you could walk 500-miles… but how do con­vince your friends, fam­i­ly and col­leagues to spon­sor you? And how do you thank them when they do? Read on to find out.

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September 02, 2021

As many of you know, SOFII co-founder and trustee Ken Burnett has decided to walk 500-miles and conquer the Camino de Santiago – it’s a way to challenge himself and raise much-needed funds for The SOFII Foundation. 

Of course, Ken has been fundraising for a long time and inspiring fundraisers around the world for much of his career too – but how does a fundraiser like you raise funds for your own personal, close to your heart cause? And how do you say thank you to the people who mean so much to you?

In this article we share Ken’s ‘ask’ and his ‘thank you’ for the walk he is will be starting in less than 24 hours. So far, these inspiring words have helped him raise almost £8,500 of sponsorship – and this has been boosted by a further £7,500 in matched funding from Chip Grizzard.

Ken’s had some terrific feedback on his communications and some people even suggested putting them on SOFII for all to learn from. So, here you are. We hope that Ken’s fundraising efforts for SOFII will help you with yours. 

If this fundraising prose makes you feel inspired, please consider helping Ken reach his new target of £10,000. Your support would mean the world to Ken, and all of us at SOFII – and it will help us keep SOFII free, forever. 

You can sponsor Ken here:

Thank you and enjoy! 

The initial ‘sponsor me please’ email

Email header: Will you help me conquer my fears…?

Dear <name>,

I hope this finds you very well and thriving. 

Will you help me conquer my fears and walk 500 miles to support charity fundraisers the world over?

Last year I turned 70. I’ve been super-fortunate, mostly life’s been good to me, yet as I’ve grown older, perhaps I’ve grown a bit too comfortable, even a bit soft. So, when a few months back I met someone who offered me the biggest physical challenge of my whole life, I listened. In a weak moment somewhere between blind optimism and chasing a dream, I thought, ‘Why not?’.

Seventy is a good time to reflect on what matters and to move forward. I’m not  big on resolutions. But I do rise to a challenge. So, from 2nd September until mid-October I’m going to walk THE WAY, 500 miles along the unforgiving trail that is the Camino de Santiago de Compostella, in Northern Spain. It’ll take five weeks at least, plus all the grit, fortitude and positive thinking I can muster. 

Frankly, the idea terrifies me. See the link to the itinerary, below, and you’ll share my unease. This is an appeal for your help, asking you to turn this combination of self-torture and over-enthusiasm into something that will make a real difference.

Specifically, I’m asking you to sponsor me as I walk, for whatever you think appropriate, so that together your compassionate generosity and my rash bravado will raise much-needed funds for

In turn, because of your generosity and my blisters, SOFII can do what they do so well, seeking out examples of great fundraising, promoting and celebrating them so that fundraisers the world over can try new things, stay the course, focus on the positive and take strides forward to improve, day after day after day.

Strides forward. That’s worth supporting, isn’t it?

To inspire and encourage you as you sponsor me, the Atlanta-based direct marketing agencies Grizzard Global Consulting and Idearaising have stepped in with a heroic offer to match the funds SOFII raises from this walk dollar for dollar, provided we can reach the target of £7,500.00. So, your gift can be doubled!

My Just Giving page is here. This is where you can donate to sponsor me – 1 penny a mile is magnificent, 10p a mile is inspirational, £1.00 or $1.00 a mile will be, well, mega-appreciated. Or anything in between, really. 

Whatever you decide to give will be valued, will make a difference and will be put to immediate good use. If enough people step up to support me, their donations will be matched in full when we reach that magic figure – £7,500.00 (roughly US$10,000.00). That £15,000/$20,000 will transform SOFII’s fortunes, completely. 

  • I could now subject you to a moving case history describing in lurid detail the impact this traumatic event will likely inflict upon one, or even both, of my feet.
  • Or, I could eulogise about all those heroes who’ve walked this route before me.
  • I could even inspire you by suggesting I will walk at least part of the route on my knees. That may just happen, anyway.

But I won’t, because just contemplating the immensity of this walk and the good this fundraising appeal might make real is enough emotion for any single email appeal. 

So, I’m just thanking you in advance and leaving the decision to you. Thank you for considering this request. Whatever you give will encourage me a bit more. So maybe, just possibly, perhaps, with your help, I just might do it*.   

Here’s wishing you a brilliant summer,


PS Money back + matching funds offers:  *If I don’t complete this walk you’ll be entitled to a full refund, no questions. If I do, Chip Grizzard and his colleagues will match your gift £ for £, $ for $. How great is that? Please sponsor me today on

PPS Giving of course is entirely voluntary. You have to want to do it. But evidence is now emerging strongly that giving is really good for you – for your mental health, your well-being, it makes your marriage stronger and may even help you live longer** (this could be the best news ever for fundraisers!). So when you sponsor me, we both win. And fundraisers the world over benefit too. ** Source. Dr Tara Swart, The Future of Giving is Smarter Giving, Barclays Private Bank 2019. 

The thank you email 

Email header: Thank you for walking with me

Dear <name>,

What can I say? I was thrilled to see your gift to my BIG WALK. Thank you, you are an absolute hero! I really appreciate it!

You’ve helped me to conquer my fears and walk 500 miles for the benefit of fundraisers the world over.

Your support has encouraged and motivated me. We’re now well more than halfway toward the magic target, when our matched funding offer will kick in. I hope this will inspire and encourage you too – how about that? – your donation can be doubled! And I haven’t started walking yet! Just FYI, I calculate from the app on my phone that completing the full 500 miles will require me to make more than 1.12 million steps. You have given me a great big start on that. 

On behalf of SOFII and everyone they help, thank you. You’ve just made a great big difference. 

That matters. Thank you, 


Thanks to your support, from 3rd September I’ll be in Spain, walking all 800 kms (500 miles) of THE WAY, The Camino de Santiago de Compostella. Through occasional updates directly from the roadside you can follow my progress, step by step, on my Just Giving page, here.

About the author: SOFII

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