Examining Motivation for Charity Sport Event Participation: A Comparison of Recreation-Based and Charity-Based Motives

Article excerpt

Charity sport events represent special events which include some form of physical exertion where participants raise funds for a charitable organization based upon the activity performed. These events complement more traditional marketing tools employed by charitable organizations such as direct mail, advertising, outbound telemarketing, billboards, and websites. Charity sport events continue to increase in popularity and have become tremendously successful fundraising mechanisms for charitable organizations (King, 200l; Pringle & Thompson, 1999). Charity sport events are an effective means to raise funds for a cause while promoting an active and healthy lifestyle through exercise (USA Fundraising, 2009).

The popularity and success of charity sport events has placed importance on the role of these events in the overall operation of the charity, as well as within communities. It is estimated that over 50% of social service organizations in the United States rely upon contributions from special events (Higgins & Lauzon, 2003). Furthermore, mass sport event participation represents one potential population-based intervention that may increase physical activity across a range of fitness levels (Murphy & Baumann, 2007).

As charity sport events become increasingly popular and integral, emphasis must be placed on determining the factors that drive participation and contribute to a meaningful event experience. Existing research in the charity sport event context has uncovered differing primary motivations (physical fitness versus cause-related), calling for additional attention to market segmentation within causerelated events (Scott & Solomon, 2003). The current research extends this notion through an examination of four recreation motives and four motives for charitable giving across two distinct charity sport event contexts. This examination allows for an evaluation of whether the role of the various motives differ based upon the relative prominence of the charitable component within the two event contexts.

The purpose of this research is three-fold. First, this research examines the contribution of recreation motives to participant attachment to a charity sport event. Second, the contribution of motives for charitable giving to participant attachment to a charity sport event is examined. Third, this research compares the relative influence of these motives on participant attachment across separate event contexts.

In addressing these research purposes, the Psychological Continuum Model (PCM) serves as the theoretical framework (Funk & James, 200l; 2006). The PCM is based upon the notion that a combination of individual and social situational factors work in conjunction toward the development of allegiance within sport consumers. The PCM outlines the variety of ways participants relate to a sport property, in the case of this research, a charity sport event, in terms of four stages: awareness, attraction, attachment, and allegiance. Each stage represents an enhanced psychological connection between the individual participant and the sport event (Funk & James, 2001). The current research advances recreation and charity-based motives as factors contributing to enhanced meaning and importance for a charity sport event. This enhanced meaning and importance underscores attachment to the charity sport event.

Three events served as the research setting: The 2006 Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF) LIVESTRONG Challenge, The 2007 3M Half Marathon and Relay, and the 2007 LAF LIVESTRONG Challenge. The 2006 LAF LIVESTRONG Challenge served as the research setting for the collection of pilot data. The 2007 LAF LIVESTRONG Challenge is an established charity sport event in which the charitable component of the event is featured prominently. All proceeds from the event benefit the LAF's mission to inspire and empower individuals living with cancer. The charitable cause is highlighted throughout all event marketing communication, as well as the registration process. …

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