No matter how much planning you do, for your event to be successful people have to actually attend. “If you build it, they will come” is not enough in the world of event fundraising — people participate for different reasons, and attendance is not necessarily guaranteed. Put yourself in your participant’s shoes and understand the specific value proposition that the event offers. Then through concept development, planning and execution, you can create events that attract, engage and retain the people you need to in order to make a difference. This week’s topic: Affinity to an activity.

 Ragged Mountain Running Shop is a hotspot for local runners in Charlottesville, Va. Many athletes are drawn to the store because it is well-known for being incredibly connected to the local running scene. If there is a big upcoming race, Ragged Mountain will most likely know about it. In fact, local races are regularly listed on their website for runners who are actively training. People run in these charity races not because they are loyal to any particular cause, but because they like the activity – running.


What will set your event apart from the dozens of other 5k’s in your town next month? To grab the attention of activity-driven participants, you have to make your event different from other related activities in your area. That race across town may similar to yours, but are they offering free food and live music at the finish line? Brainstorm innovative, fun, and engaging elements to incorporate into your event.

Find activity hubs, such as Ragged Mountain, where your ideal participants hang out. Seek partnerships with the places where your ideal participants would go. For example, the American Diabetes Association teamed up with Gold’s Gym to advertise its Tour de Cure event. With a quick visit to the Tour de Cure website, you’ll find cross-training resources such as a twelve-week training plan and Your Personal Cycling Coach. By offering a solid training program and the opportunity to work with personal trainers, the Tour de Cure attracts several activity-based participants such as avid cyclists.

The downside of attracting activity-driven participants is that their commitment to your organization may be short-lived. After the race, they may never get involved again. To avoid this turnover, make sure participants understand your cause by effectively integrating your mission into your event. Turn their passion for the activity into a passion for your cause. They’ll likely stay involved for years to come.


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