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College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management

JVEM Vol. 1, Iss. 2

March 2010

Motivations for Participating in Health Related Charity Sport Events

  • Doyeon Won1 ,University of Georgia
  • Meungguk Park2, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
  • Brian A. Turner3, The Ohio State University

All Correspondence should be directed to Doyeon Won, Ph.D., Department of Kinesiology, The University of Georgia, Ramsey 361, 330 River Rd., Athens, GA 30602, Phone: (706) 542-4362, Email:

1Address: 330 River Road, Athens, GA 30602; Phone (706) 542-4362; Fax (706) 542-3417; email: 
2 Address: 122 Davis Hall, Mail code 4310, Carbondale, IL 62901; Phone (618) 453-3159; Fax (618) 453- 3329; email:
3 Address: A264 PAES Bldg., 305 West 17th Ave., Columbus, OH 43210; Phone ( 614) 247-8374; Fax (614) 688-4885; email:


In recent years, fundraising has been a major challenge for nonprofit organizations (NPOs) due to lack of support from state and federal governments, the recent economic downturn, and fierce competition among increasing numbers of charities. To overcome this challenging environment, NPOs have attempted to reach prospective donors and contributors by developing broad and diverse fundraising programs. Charity events utilizing sports activities have become a popular and successful method used to raise funds for NPOs. However, there is a paucity of empirical research regarding motivations for participating in charity sport events in the context of sport marketing. This study was designed to examine participants’ motivational profiles in charity sport events to begin to address this need.

Based on sport motivation and donor motivation literature, as well as feedback from interviews with past event participants, 30 items representing 15 motivational dimensions were identified. Responses were collected from participants (N = 211) in two Relay for Life events, and six factors were extracted: (a) Philanthropy, (b) Social / Entertainment, (c) External / Benefits, (d) Family Needs, (e) Sports, and (f) Group Collaboration. These six factors accounted for 66.2% of the total variance. The results indicated that Philanthropy was the most important motivation, followed by Family Needs, Group Collaboration, Social / Entertainment, Sports, and External / Benefits, in that order. In addition, the findings also revealed group differences in motivational profiles based on the participants’ age and gender. Furthermore, participants’ satisfaction with the event and intention to return to the event were significantly related to motivational profiles.

This study contributes to the body of knowledge regarding donor motivation in the context of sport marketing by incorporating motivation for participation in charity sport events. In addition, the results of the current study can help sport practitioners / fundraisers gain a better understanding of the motivational factors for charity sport event participation, in order to develop the most effective sport-related fundraising programs. Furthermore, event marketers of charity sport events can utilize the participants’ demographic characteristics as a basis for market segmentation.

Motivations for Participating in Health-Related Charity Sport Events

Nonprofit organizations (NPOs) have a significant economic and social impact on society (Bagozzi & Moore, 1994; Bendapudi, Singh, & Bendapudi, 1996). The American Association of Fundraising Counsel (2003) indicated that Americans donated nearly $240 billion to charitable causes in 2002. However, in recent years, soliciting money for charities has been a major challenge for NPOs (Clotfelter, 1993; Lowell, Silverman, & Taliento, 2001). There are several possible reasons for such difficulties. The recent economic downturn in the U.S. may have caused people to reduce discretionary expenditures overall, including charitable donations (The Center on Philanthropy, 2008). In addition, fierce competition among an increasing numbers of charities has exacerbated the situation (Bendapudi, et al., 1996; Schlegelmilch, Diamantopoulos, & Love, 1992). According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics (2006), the approximate number of NPOs in the U.S. was 1,480,000, an increase of 36% since 1996.

In light of these challenges, it becomes ever more difficult to raise funds for NPOs. In this regard, Gladden, Mahony and Apostolopoulou (2005) noted, “the need for increased sophistication in fundraising efforts is driven by the challenges associated with soliciting charitable donations” (p.19). To overcome this challenging environment, NPOs have attempted to reach prospective donors and contributors by developing broad and diverse fundraising programs. Charity events utilizing sports activities are a popular and successful method used to raise funds for NPOs.

Charity Sport Events

On top of the broad popularity of sport events in general, sport events with specific ties to charities have become major fundraisers for those organizations. A majority of these charity events are associated with health-related causes, such as the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life (RFL) and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation’s Race for the Cure. For example, the RFL program is a charity sport event (CSE) designed to celebrate cancer survivors and raise funds for the American Cancer Society. More than three million Americans have participated in RFL events during the last two decades (American Cancer Society, 2006). Fundraisers working in health organizations have used sport activities as their primary fundraising tool because (a) sport events are universally popular, (b) CSEs are spectator-friendly, and (c) sport activities naturally represent health or a healthier lifestyle.

Understanding motivations for charitable giving

In order to reach prospective donors and contributors, it is essential for sport marketers and event managers who are responsible for sport fundraising programs to understand how and why consumers decide to engage in donation activities. Guy and Patton (1989) suggested in their study examining new marketing strategies for NPOs that the motivation and the decision-making process regarding donor behavior might be quite different from those involved in other types of consumer activities: “the marketers of altruistic causes cannot [sell brotherhood] without understanding what needs people satisfy by engaging in brotherhood or how people decide to become brothers” (p. 28). In addition to understanding donor behavior, the practitioners in charge of CSEs are required to have insight into sport participation motivation, as these fundraising programs are essentially sport events in concert with donation activities. To better understand participants’ motivation in CSEs, literature investigating helping behavior, donor motivation in intercollegiate athletics, and motivation of sport participants were examined.

Helping Behavior

People engage in helping behaviors with egoistic or altruistic motivations (Bendapudi et al., 1996). Individuals who help the needy for egoistic reasons are motivated to (a) gain intangible or tangible benefits for helping others while avoiding penalties and punishments for not helping the needy, or (b) relieve their distress from the confrontation of others’ in a need situation by helping the needy (Bendapudi et al., 1996; Cialdini, Schaller, Houlihan, Arps, Fultz, & Beaman, 1987; Martin, 1994; Piliavin, Dovidio, Gaeitner, & Clark, 1981). On the other hand, individuals who engage in helping behaviors with altruistic motivations genuinely care about others in need while they do not care about intangible or tangible rewards (Bendapudi et al., 1996). In reality, engagement in helping behaviors results from a combination of egoistic and altruistic reasons. Ultimately, since people participate in CSEs to help others, the motivation for helping behavior can be applied to understand motivations for participating in CSEs.

Donor Motivation for College Athletics (Intercollegiate Athletic Fundraising)

Charity organizations essentially utilize sports events as a means to attract potential or current donors just as universities (or athletic departments) enhance their stakeholder relationships using their athletic events. Due to the importance of athletic fundraising for college athletic programs, researchers in the field of sport management have recently begun to conduct research investigating the motives of athletic donors (e.g., Billing, Holt, & Smith, 1985; Gladden et al., 2005; Mahony, Gladden, & Funk, 2003; Staurowsky, Parkhouse, & Sachs, 1996; Verner, Hecht, & Fansler, 1998). As an initial attempt to examine a wide range of donor motivations, Billing et al. (1985) developed the Athletics Contributions Questionnaire (the ACQ) and identified four donor motivations: (1) Philanthropic (providing scholarships for athletes and for their universities), (2) Social (social interaction with family and friends), (3) Success (supporting the success of the university), and (4) Benefits (seating and parking benefits). Based on the Billing et al. study, Staurowsky et al. (1996) developed the Athletics Contributions Questionnaire Revised Edition II (the ACQUIRE II) which added two new motives to the ACQ: Curiosity (desire to be associated with athletics) and Power (desire to exercise influence over the administration of athletics). As few of the studies related to athletic donation provided a strong theoretical background, Verner et al. (1998) attempted to employ a sound theory of human motivation to the context of athletic donation behavior. Based on social cognition theory, Verner et al. (1998) developed the Motivation of Athletics Donors (MAD-1) instrument by employing a rigid four-stage research process. The MAD-1 instrument includes 11 factors: (1) Participating in secondary events (participating in events specifically created for donors), (2) Public recognition (formal acknowledgement among others), (3) Giving of time and energy (providing service or volunteering time), (4) Inside information (seeking information provided exclusively to donors), (5) Priority treatment (special benefits), (6) Philanthropy (helping the athletic program), (7) Collaboration (forming groups to achieve a goal), (8) Create (bringing 23 something new to the organization), (9) Change (modifying something that already exists), (10) Curiosity (desire to know), and (11) Power (control over the administration of athletics).

While these previous studies provide insight into donor behavior, Mahony et al. (2003) indicated that the prior studies did not provide a comprehensive donor motivation scale, nor did they examine the relative importance of the motivational factors. In addition, they did not recognize significant heterogeneity associated with donor motives among schools. To reduce these limitations, Mahony et al. (2003), based on the four motivational factors by Billing et al. (1985), developed a more comprehensive instrument that included 12 motivational factors: (1) Philanthropic, (2) Social, (3) Escape, (4) Priority seating for football, (5) Priority seating for basketball, (6) Business enhancement, (7) Success I - Tradition, (8) Success II - Current, (9) Success III - Future, (10) Success IV - Community pride, (11) Nostalgia, and (12) Psychological commitment. Mahony and his colleagues separated Billing et al.’s (1985) Benefit constructs into three factors and also separated Staurowsky et al.’s (1996) Success construct into four factors. As Gladden et al. (2005) indicated, one limitation of Mahony et al.’s study was that the regression analysis explained less than 20% of the variance. Thus, in order to explain more of the variance in donor motivational factors, Gladden et al. (2005) attempted to examine donor behavior in more depth based on open-ended feedback from donors. The primary motives identified by Gladden et al. included supporting and improving the athletic program, ticket benefits, helping student-athletes, entertainment/enjoyment, supporting the university, membership benefits, repaying past benefits, enhancing the community, and psychological commitment.

Sport Participation Motivation

People participate in sport activities of their choice for various reasons. Sport participants play sports to get exercise, have fun, master skills, and spend time with friends (Petrick, Backman, Bixler, & Norman, 2001; Milne & McDonald, 1999). Despite the fact that researchers have suggested different profiles of participation motivation in sport activities, the basic thrust remains that, in general, people like to play sports and are interested in keeping themselves healthy by participating in sport activities. Since CSEs utilize sport activities as main attractors to raise funds and get attention, it is clear, then, that playing sports should be considered as one of the main participation motivations.

Motivation for Participating in Charity Sport Events

Based on the literature review on helping behaviors, collegiate donor behavior, and sport participation, as well as informal interviews with past participants, the researchers identified 15 motive dimensions for participating in CSEs: (1) Supporting the medical foundation — American Cancer Society, (2) Supporting the charity event program — RFL event, (3) Celebrating cancer survivors, (4) Helping cancer patients and their families, (5) Good cause (Gladden et al., 2005), (6) Altruist — giving is a responsibility (Prince & File, 1994), (7) Family gathering, (8) References groups, (9) Entertainment (Gladden et al., 2005), (10) Sport (Milne & McDonald, 1999), (11) Social affiliation (Verner et al., 1998), (12) Public recognition (Verner et al., 1998), (13) Benefits (Verner et al., 1998), (14) Collaboration — team effort (Verner et al., 1998), and (15) Creation — making strides (Verner et al., 1998).

Among these 15 dimensions, the first four dimensions were related to Billing et al’s (1985) Philanthropic construct (desire to do something for others). The first two constructs, ‘Supporting the medical foundation’ and ‘Supporting the charity event program’, were adopted and modified from the Gladden et al. study (2005) which labeled the two dimensions as ‘Support and promotion of the college/university’ and ‘Support and improve the athletic program’, respectively. The researchers also identified the unique constructs that were specifically related to the RFL event: Celebrating cancer survivors, Helping cancer patients and their families, Family gathering, and Entertainment (e.g., to enjoy special events or activities provided by the hosting organization). These four constructs were included in this study, based on interviews with past participants (N = 6), including two experts responsible for a cancer survivor program. The dimension of Reference groups was newly added to the 15 dimensions, as reference groups can have a significant influence on individual’s decision making process (Blackwell, Miniard, & Engel, 2001; Shank, 2009). ‘Reference groups’ are defined as “individuals who influence the information, attitudes, and behaviors of other group members” (Shank, 2009, p. 128).

Demographic Characteristics on CSE Motivations

Schlegelmilch et al. (1996) indicated that different demographic, socio-economic, and psychological characteristics affect the level of donations made to charities (see also Diamantopoulos, Schlegelmilch, & Love, 1993; Kitchen & Dalton, 1990; Nichols, 1995). With respect to age, younger people (under 35) give the least to altruistic causes, while older people give the most (Simpson, 1986). Related to gender, women tend to volunteer more than men (The Center on Philanthropy, 2006). In terms of the types of preferred charities, women strongly prefer medical or health-related charities, while men prefer to 26 donate to arts and humanities (Schlegelmilch & Tynan, 1989). Thus, it was also expected that participants’ gender and age could influence CSE motivations.

Purpose of the Study

A number of studies in the context of sport consumer behavior have focused on sport participation motivation (e.g., McDonald, Milne, & Hong, 2002; Milne & McDonald, 1999; Petrick et al., 2001) and donor motivation (e.g., Gladden et al., 2005; Mahony, et al., 2003; Prince & File, 1994; Verner et al., 1998). However, there is a paucity of empirical research on motivations for participating in CSEs. Specifically, there is a need to conduct research which attempts to incorporate sport participation motivation and donor motivation, as CSEs are a form of sport events combined with donation activities. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate motivational factors that affect individuals’ participation in charity events involving sport activities and demographic differences on the motivational factors. The second purpose was to examine how these factors influence repeat participation.

Sample and Procedure

Data were collected from 211 participants from two RFL events in a Midwestern state. Respondents were asked to complete a paper-and-pencil questionnaire on a voluntary basis. Of the 211 participants, 59% were female (n = 125) and the majority of the respondents were White / Caucasian (92.9%). The average age of participants was approximately 35 years (SD = 15.56) with a median age of 31 years old. On average, respondents reported participating in RFL events for 2.83 years (SD = 2.48) with a median of two years. Annually, respondents reported participating in 3.3 CSEs (any CSE 27 events including the RFL) a year (SD = 6.17) with a median of two events a year. The mean reported annual charitable donations (any kind for the respondents) was $1,233 (SD = 200) with a median of $200.


Based on sport motivation and donor motivation literature (Gladden et al., 2005; Milne & McDonald, 1999; Verner et al., 1998), as well as feedback from interviews with past event participants (N = 6), 30 items representing 15 motivational dimensions were identified (see Table 1). Participants were asked to rate the importance of each item on a 7-point Likert-type scale. Additional questions for background information such as gender and age were also solicited.

Data Analyses

Table 1: List of the Items Used

American Cancer Society
ACS1. I participated in this event to provide financial support for the ACS.
ACS2. I participate in the event to raise money for research and programs of your ACS
Relay for Life (RFL)
RFL1. I participated in this event to provide financial support for the RFL program
RFL2. I participate in the event to support the success of the Relay for Life program
CEL1. I participate in this event to celebrate cancer survivors
CEL2. I participate in this event to feel how much it is painful to suffer cancer
Help People who are suffering from cancer
HP1. I participate in this event to provide hope to people facing disease
HP2. I would like to contribute to cancer patients and their families
Good Cause
GC1. I participated in this event because it is a worthwhile program
GC2. I participated in this event to support this good cause (fight against cancer)
Family Needs
FN1. Participating in this event provides great camaraderie within our family
FN2. Participating in this event allows me to spend quality of time with family members
Reference Groups
REF1. I participated in the event b/c my friends or family encourage me to join the event
REF2. Peer pressure is an important reason why I participate in this event
ET1. I participate in this event to be entertained provided by the charity organizations
ET2. I participate in this event to have fun
SPT1. I participate in this event because I enjoy walking and running
SPT2. I participate in this event because I fell it keeps me healthy
SOC1. I participated in this event to be with friends
SOC2. Social gatherings and friendships are important reasons why I participate in this event
ACH1. I want to be recognized at this event that honors my group
ACH2. I participated in the event to receive a plaque (or certification) that acknowledges my group
BEN1. I participated in this event to get tax advantages and tax deduction
BEN2. I participate in this event to get a T-shirts and specialty items
COL1. I participate in this event to form a group to accomplish a goal
COL2. I participate in this event to work jointly with others or together
Making Strides
MS1. I participate in this event to raise awareness against to fight the disease
MS2. I participate in this event to be a part of making strides against breast cancer

In addition to determining descriptive statistics, correlational analyses were conducted to explore the relationship among the variables in this study. Additionally, regression analyses were conducted to investigate the effects of participants’ motivations on satisfaction and repeat participation. Finally, multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) was conducted to determine the effect of participants’ age and gender on CSE motivations.

CSE Motivation: Factor Analysis

The factor structure underlying the scales was examined using principal factoring with a varimax rotation (see Table 2). Two items (CEL2, ALT1) were excluded because their communalities were less than .50. Factor analytical analyses suggested a six-factor solution that explained 66.2% of the variance in the data. The six factors were (a) Philanthropy, (b) Social / Entertainment, (c) External / Benefits, (d) Family Needs, (e) Sports, and (f) Group Collaboration. The first factor was named ‘Philanthropy’ because this factor includes items pertaining to altruistic motivations, and helping the cause and NPOs. The second factor was named ‘Social / Entertainment’ because this motivation is about social needs and enjoying entertainment. The third factor was named ‘External / Benefits’ as it emphasizes the possible future benefits and achievements from the event. The fourth through sixth factors were named ‘Group Collaboration’, ‘Family Needs’, and ‘Sports’ as these motivations emphasize working as a group for the event, satisfying family needs, and enjoying the sport activities provided by the event.

Descriptive statistics showed that Philanthropy (M = 6.13 with 7 being most important, SD = 0.95) was the most important motivation, followed by Family Needs (M 30 = 4.98, SD = 1.77), Group Collaboration (M = 4.45, SD = 1.89), Social / Entertainment (M = 4.38, SD = 1.46), Sports (M = 3.97, SD = 1.80), and External / Benefits (M = 2.10, SD = 1.25). Based on internal consistency reliability coefficients (Cronbach’s alpha), all scales were found to be reliable at .70 or greater, ranging from .78 to .92 (Nunally & Bernstein, 1994; see Table 2).

Table 2: Results of Factor Analysis: CSE Motivations

Items F1
Social / ET
External / Benefits
ACS1 .84          
ACS2 .84          
RF1 .75          
RF2 .76          


HP1 .64          
HP2 .72          
GC1 .75          
GC2 .81          
ALT2 .41          
MS1 .64          
MS2 .59          
REF1   .65        
ET1   .62        
ET2   .66        
SOC1   .79        
SOC2   .78        
REF2     .59      
ACH1     .59      
ACH2     .77      
BEN1     .77      
BEN2     .77      
COL1       .73    
COL2       .72    
FN1         .82  
FN2         .84  
SPT1           .61
SPT2           .51
22.84 13.33 10.85 7.50 7.23 4.48
Cronbach's a .92 .81 .79 .78 .82 .85
Mean 6.13 4.38 2.10 4.45 4.98 3.97
(SD) (0.95) (1.46) (1.25) (1.89) (1.77) (1.80)

Satisfaction with and Behavioral Intention for Future CSEs

Findings from the correlational analyses (see Table 3) revealed that participants’ satisfaction with the events was significantly and positively associated with Philanthropy (r = .70, p < .001), Family Needs (r = .39, p < .001), Collaboration (r = .24, p < .001), and Sports (r = .20, p < .01) while it was negatively associated with External/Benefits (r = -.22, p < .01). As for intentions for repeat participation, the results of the correlational analysis indicated that subjects’ intentions to participate in future CSEs were positively and strongly associated with Philanthropy (r = .42, p < .001), Family Needs (r = .29, p < .001), and Collaboration (r = .17, p < .05).

Table 3: Means, SDs, and Correlations among Study Variables

Variables 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
1. -- .20** -- .29** .43** .27**       .12
Philanthropy     .18**       .70** .42** .28**  
2. Social / ET   --   .46** .38** .59** .13 .04 -.13 --
      .46**             .23**
3. Benefits     -- .28** .12 .39** -- -.09 -- -.03
              .22**   .19**  
4. Collaborate       -- .35** .44**   .17* .05 .09
5. Family         -- .39**     .12 .06
              .39** .29**    
6. Sports           --   .07 -.01 -.04
7.             --     .05
Satisfaction               .49** .2888  
8. Intention               --   .17*
9. Gender                 -- 1.5*
10. Age                   --
M 6.13 4.38 2.10 4.45 4.98 3.97 6.41 6.06 1.59 35.39
SD 0.95 1.46 1.25 1.89 1.77 1.80 0.93 1.24 0.49 15.56

Note. *p < .05, **p < .01

In order to further examine the effects of motivations on satisfaction and repeat participation, regression analyses were performed (see Table 4). After controlling for the 32 age and gender of the participants, six motivations jointly explained a significant amount of the variance in satisfaction (ΔR2 = .44) and repeat participation (ΔR2 = .15). Among the six motivational dimensions, Philanthropy (β = .58) and External/Benefits (β = -.14) were significant predictors for satisfaction while Philanthropy (β = .35) and Family Needs (β = .15) were significant predictors for repeat participation.

Table 4: Results of Regression Analyses

Variable Dependent Variable
Satisfaction Intention to return
β R2 β R2
Step 1   .08*** .13 .08***
Age .01   .22**  
Gender .28***      
Step 2   .44***   .15***
Philanthropy .58***   .33***  
Social / ET -.01   -.02  
Benefits -.14*   .01  
Collaboration .06   .05  
Family .11   .15*  
Sports .04   -.09  
Overall R2   .52***   .23***
Overall Adj. R2   .50   .19

Note. *p < .05, **p < .01, ***p < .001

Group Differences of Motivations by Age and Gender

To determine potential differences related to gender and age (younger versus older participants), a MANOVA was performed (see Table 5). For age groups, a median split was used to categorize younger (age 30 and younger; n = 104) and older (age 31 and 33 older; n = 107) participants. Subjects’ motivations were significantly related to age, Wilk’s λ = .91, F(6, 202) = 3.54, p = .002. as well as gender, Wilk’s λ = .89, F(6, 202) = 4.28, p < .001.

Between-subjects tests on individual motivation revealed significant main effects of gender for Philanthropy, F(1, 207) = 16.55 at p < .001, and External / Benefits, F(1, 207) = 6.44 at p = .012. Benefits were more important for male (M = 2.38, SD = 1.36) than female participants (M = 1.91, SD = 1.13) while Philanthropy was more important for females (M = 6.35, SD = 0.81) than male participants (M = 5.81, SD = 1.05). As for participants’ age, a main effect for age emerged for Social/Entertainment, F(1, 207) = 12.67 at p < .001. Younger participants’ reports were higher for Social / Entertainment (M = 4.72, SD = 1.32) than older participants’ reports (M = 4.05, SD = 1.51).

In addition, findings revealed a gender-by-age interaction effect on Social/Entertainment, F(1, 207) = 4.67 at p = .032. Younger male participants showed greater motivation in Social / Entertainment (M = 5.10, SD = 1.24) than younger females (M = 4.38, SD = 1.30), older females (M = 4.10, SD =1.50), and older males (M = 3.97, SD = 1.55).

Table 5: Multivariate Analysis of Variance (MANOVA) for Gender and Age on CSE Motivations

SOURCE DV F Group mean diff.
Gender λ = .89 4.28***  
Age λ = .91  3.54**  
Gender Philanthropy 16.55*** Male (5.81) < Female (6.35)
  External / Benefits 6.44** Male (2.38) > Female (1.91)
Age Social / Entertain 12.67*** Younger (4.72) > Older (4.05) 

Note 1. Multivariate F(6, 202); Univariate F(1, 207); *p < .05, **p < .01, ***p < .001
Note 2. All non-significant findings from univariate analyses were not reported (p > .05)


This study sought to better understand participants’ motivational factors in deciding to participate in CSEs. The main finding of this study was that Philanthropy was the most important motivation, followed by Family Needs, Group Collaboration, Social/Entertainment, Sports, and External/Benefits-related needs. In addition, these motivational dimensions were found to be positively associated with participants’ satisfaction with the event and their intention to return to the event.

Philanthropic Motives

Philanthropic motives (e.g., supporting the medical foundation and helping with cancer patients) were far and away the most important reason for participating in the CSEs in this study. This result was not surprising, given the fact that the main purpose of the RFL event is to help cancer patients and raise funds for the America Cancer Society. It was also consistent with the previous studies investigating collegiate athletic fundraising (Gladden et al., 2005; Mahony et al., 2003; Staurowsky et al., 1996; Verner et al., 1998). However, future research is required to redefine this philanthropic motive, as this construct may have multiple dimensions, as suggested by Gladden et al. (2005) who indicated that helping student athletes and replaying the university as well as athletic department might be distinct philanthropic motives. Similarly, in CSEs, helping a cause, a NPO, or people can be distinguishable points of helping behaviors.

Family Needs

It is important to note that Family Needs (or family gathering; a desire to enjoy a quality time with their family) was rated as the second most important motivator by participants. As mentioned earlier, this motive is a construct that is more salient to the RFL event in comparison to other charity events (e.g., charity golf tournaments). This finding indicates that there were a large number of participants who wanted to enjoy quality time with their family while supporting a good cause. In addition, support for family gathering can be explained by the fact that most parents participating in this event want to emphasize the importance of serving the community to their family members, especially children (Relay For Life, 2007). This result addresses the critical role of parents in their children’s participation in a charity event. As Shank (2009) noted, parents can have a significant influence on sport participation. From this perspective, this motive is related to the construct of ‘Dynasts’ (giving is a family tradition) identified by Prince and File (1994), who addressed the seven distinct types of donors. The desire for family gathering might be associated with the philanthropic motive in a sense that philanthropy is a learned behavior, and parents can have a significant influence on an individual’s helping behavior (Falco, Fopma, Maxwell, Stoller, & Turrell, 1998).

Group Collaboration

A desire to form groups to achieve a goal was considered as the third important reason for participating in the RFL event. A motive for collaborating with others (to help cancer patients) can be attributed to the fact that the RFL event is a team effort, and a person has to be a team-member in a group in order to participant in this “relay” event. In the context of athletic donors, Verner et al. (1998), who developed the Motivation of Athletics Donors (MAD-1), identified this motive for group collaboration as one of the 12 dimensions for athletic donors. Similarly, Howard and Crompton (2004) suggested that in order to make a successful fundraising activity, it is very important to emphasize the team concept of fundraising. Indeed, in some schools, boosters are placed on teams that compete against one another to see who can raise the most money.

Social / Entertainment

A desire to be entertained was rated as the fourth most important motive. The fact that the items from ‘socialites’ and ‘entertainment’ subscales were loaded on this same factor indicated that participants considered social affiliation and entertainment options as one of the critical benefits that the RFL event provided. Support for entertainment can be explained by the fact that many people are motivated to participate in the event because they want to be entertained during the event. Indeed, the RFL events provide music and concerts, entertainment, and a variety of fun games for children and adults. This motivational factor is supported by Gladden et al.’s study (2005) in which they noted that the entertainment/enjoyment motive was found to be one of the primary motivations for donors.


The findings also suggested that sports activities provided by the event were one of the main reasons to attend the charity events. Thus, understanding what sports are preferred by the target market (donors or participants) should be one of the critical tasks for event managers in order to attract more participants, and thus to raise more funds. Typical sports activities utilized by the NPOs include walking, running, marathon, cycling, golf, and basketball. NPOs should carefully select the sport they use in order to attract different clienteles.

External / Benefits

While a desire to obtain tangible benefits (e.g., football or basketball tickets) was found to be a primary motive for college athletic donors (Gladden et al., 2005; Mahony et al., 2003), the benefit motive (e.g., tax benefit) was the least important motive in this study. This result was supported by a study (Dawson, 1988) which investigated motivational factors for charitable giving related to medical research foundations. Dawson’s study which identified four motivations — Income advantages, Career advancement, Reciprocity, and Self-esteem — indicated that the income motive was the least important. Finding also suggests that donors’ motivations for college fundraising might be different from donors in other settings. Indeed, Gladden et al. (2005) noted, “fundraising in athletics is somewhat different than fundraising in other areas, and thus needs to be examined separately.” (p. 26).

The Relationship between Participation Motives and Behavioral Intention and Satisfaction

The results of the correlational and regression analyses provided insight into the influence of participation motives on repeat participation. After controlling for participants’ age and gender, six motivational dimensions jointly explained significant amounts of the variance in participants’ satisfaction with the event (ΔR2 = .44) and intention to return to the event (ΔR2 = .15). This indicated that event managers of the CSEs should understand what drives participants to participate in CSEs and which needs they want to satisfy or fulfill by participating in these events.

Among the six motivational dimensions, Philanthropy (β = .58) and External / Benefits (β = -.14) were significant predictors for participants’ satisfaction with the event. Meanwhile, Philanthropy (β = .33) and Family Needs = .15) were significant predictors for repeat participation. As reported, philanthropic motive was the most important reason for participating in CSEs and is associated with an altruistic motive. Given that philanthropy is associated with altruistic motivation (Billing et al., 1985; Gladden et al., 2005; Mahony et al., 2003; Staurowsky et al., 1996; Verner et al., 1998), it is not surprising that Philanthropy was the most significant predictor for satisfaction and behavioral intention for repeat participation in CSEs. Thus, when communicating with potential and current donors (or participants), event managers or NPOs should emphasize the fact that these CSEs are one of the best ways to help others in need. As for Family Needs (family gathering), it was deemed that participants felt, while participating in the RFL events, that the event could function as an opportunity to spend quality time with their family members. It is also supported by previous literature in donation behavior (e.g., Prince & File, 1994). For future events, CSE marketers should accommodate the family atmosphere and develop additional family-based events to attract family-units.

Demographic Differences on CSE Motivations

Findings from the MANOVA revealed main effects of age and gender on CSE motivations. In general, female participants demonstrated higher motivations in Philanthropy to a significant extent, and Family and Collaboration-related motivation to a smaller extent, than did male participants. Meanwhile, male participants expressed higher Benefit and Social / Entertainment-related motivation than did female participants.

As the findings suggest, participants’ demographic characteristics could be utilized by CSE 39 event marketers as a base for market segmentation. Consequently, event marketers could develop more segment-appropriate and tailored communication strategies when attracting potential event participants.

In sum, this study contributes to the body of knowledge regarding donor motivation in the context of sport marketing by incorporating motivation for participating in CSEs. In addition, the current study can help sport practitioners involved with fundraising programs to gain a better understanding of the motivational factors regarding CSEs which can be used to develop more effective sport-related fundraising programs. For example, it is suggested that practitioners should emphasize the salient benefits of such events to prospective participants (e.g., chance to spend time together as a family). It is also suggested that the gender and age of participants might be useful segmentation variables. Furthermore, the results from this study can provide sport marketers who work for NPOs with valuable insights for developing marketing strategies to retain their donors and contributors.

Limitations and Future Directions

The present study provides important insights into marketing and consumer profiles of CSEs. Notwithstanding this, there are some limitations to the findings. First, it should be recognized that, due to practical reasons (the time consumed for the survey), only two items per sub-dimension were utilized. For better reliability of each subscale, further studies should consider using more than three items per sub-scale or sub-dimension. Second, some of the items or sub-scales used in this study were event-specific and, thus, not all items can be replicated to other charity events. Future studies may consider developing more generic measures. Lastly, as reported, only about 20% of the variances in repeat participation were explained by motivational factors, after controlling for participants’ age and gender. Further studies should also consider different factors in combination with participants’ motivation in predicting behavioral intentions.


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