Run for a Cause
Nonprofit organizations continue to serve their mission and participants’ wellness through endurance event team building.
By Diana Price
Peer-to-peer fundraising through endurance athletic events is booming. The model is a win-win for nonprofit organizations facing an increasingly competitive fundraising climate and for event participants eager to support their favorite causes while accomplishing significant fitness goals.
The concept works like this: Nonprofit organizations provide athletic coaching, training plans, and ongoing emotional support to participants who join the organization’s “team” for an endurance athletic event (marathon, triathlon, or century bike ride, for example). The participants, in turn, agree to raise a specific number of dollars for the organization through personal appeals to friends, family, and colleagues. Often participants have a personal connection to the cause that the nonprofit supports, lending passion to their fundraising appeals and boosting their motivation to carry through with the training required to complete the event. Successfully completing an endurance event can be reward enough for many, but adding the satisfaction of knowing you have raised funds for a cause close to your heart can make the personal victory all that much sweeter.
Craig Comins, national director of Team Challenge, the endurance training and fundraising program of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA), says that statistics gathered about Team Challenge participants reflect that personal connection is a draw for many: “90 percent of our participants have a connection to Crohn’s disease or colitis, and 30 percent are actually patients living with these conditions.”
Comins says that as they work toward their fitness and fundraising goals, patients, specifically, see physical and emotional benefit: “Patients say the training helps their body cope with their disease and also helps boost confidence and ongoing strength to manage the day-in, day-out issues that stem from the disease.” In addition, the companionship and connection available through the relationships formed on the team foster a supportive environment, which can function as a support group for those coping with Crohn’s and colitis.
The personal benefit to participants is matched by significant financial reward for CCFA, funding programming and research. Comins says that since Team Challenge was founded in 2007, the organization “has raised over $58 million through the participation of almost 12,000 individuals.” Funds raised have had “a tremendous impact on CCFA’s research efforts,” Comins says, “helping quadruple the organization’s research funding.” But, he stresses, just as important as the funds raised has been the opportunity to educate the public about Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, two types of inflammatory bowel disease affecting approximately 1.4 million Americans.
For organizations offering team endurance events, the fundraising model provides an opportunity to support their mission and raise awareness while offering participants something equally valuable: physical and emotional rewards.
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