Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.

Department (Legacy)

Department of Leadership, Foundations, and Human Resource Education

Committee Chair

Greenwell, T. Christopher

Author's Keywords

Social media; Charity sport; Sport participation; Non-profit communication; Charity sporting events


Fund raising; Nonprofit organizations--Finance; Social media--Economic aspects; Sports--Economic aspects


Charity sport participation has gained increasing popularity, with over 11.6 million individuals participating and organizations raising more than $1.7 billion annually through charity sport participation events (Run Walk Ride Foundation, 2012). An increased number of alternatives created a competitive environment among charitable organizations to recruit and retain charity sport participants (Gladden, Mahony, & Apostolopoulou, 2004). The use of social media provides an opportunity for organizations to efficiently and effectively raise awareness about a cause (Waters, Burnett, Lamm, & Lucas, 2009) and build relationships with participants and alumni (Waters & Jamal, 2011), potentially creating a competitive advantage. The purpose of this study was to determine how charity sport organizations could leverage social media to enhance recruitment, retention, and future support of their organization. This study examined charity sport motives (i.e., cause, philanthropy, social, health and fitness, and sport), social media intensity of usage (i.e., high, moderate, and low), and social media consumption motivations to gain insights about maximizing future intentions (i.e., future participation intention, future support of the organization, and participants’ willingness to refer). Multiple quantitative analyses were used to examine these relationships. Data were collected from an international sample of Team in Training participants and alumni, a charity sport subset of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Results yielded cause, philanthropy, social, and health and fitness-related motives as significant predictors of future intentions. Five primary motivations for social media consumption were identified (i.e., community, information, social interaction, pass time, and entertainment) and four typologies of social media users (i.e., avid, purposive, leisurely, and minimalist users) were created based on social media consumption motivations and social media intensity of usage. Further analysis revealed differences in social media typologies based on charity sport motivations and their influence on future intentions. Results of this study confirm the primary motivations of charity sport participation as well as provide an established set of social media consumption motivations in a charity sport context. In addition, the development of social media typologies provides organizations with a more holistic view of the social media consumption habits of their users as well as differences in charity sport motives and future intentions for each typology. Results demonstrate the need for sport managers to embrace social media (e.g., Bernoff & Li, 2008; Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010) and engage users (e.g., King, 2013; Williams & Chin, 2010) in order to build lasting relationships with participants and facilitate offline behaviors (Valenzuela et al., 2009). In addition, results yield evidence of the need for differentiated marketing and communication strategies to effectively meet the needs of users.