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Finding the funds in fun runs: Exploring physical activity events as fundraising tools in the nonprofit sector

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An increasingly popular form of raising funds in the nonprofit sector is the special event that involves some form of physical activity. This paper describes a study that tracked 50 events over nine months in order to explore the phenomenon of physical activity events, their function as a solicitation strategy and as a public awareness/relations tool, and to gauge how these events met the needs of participants who donated their money and energy to a cause. Data were collected by means of participant observation at 12 events and interviews with 12 participants and 12 hosting organisations. Using a social marketing framework and diffusion of innovations theory as an approach to making sense of the data, the results suggest that events serve two main purposes: celebrating a cause and offering an event that satisfies the physical activity interests of participants, and that events appropriately act as fundraising and publicity tools. Implications for adopting a social marketing orientation so that nonprofit organisations can hasten the diffusion process by tailoring events to meet the needs of participants, and for further research are discussed.
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Keywords: brand; campaigns; cause-related marketing; charity; consumer behaviour; data analysis; donor; e-relationship development; fundraising; lobbying; marketing; nonprofit; not-for-profit; public relations; relationship marketing; voluntary sector; volunteer

Document Type: Regular Paper

Publication date: November 1, 2003

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