Document Type

Dissertation

Abstract

Despite all of the medical technological advances society has experienced, and is still experiencing, there has not been an ultimate cure for cancer found. Non-profit organizations like the American Cancer Society have been working for 100 years to raise funding and awareness for this issue and although great progress has been made since their founding in 1913, there is still more work that needs to be done to make cancer a disease of the past. This study first focuses on the structure of non-profit organizations, their role in society, and the techniques and procedures they follow when looking for donors. Information was collected through a literature review of books and articles summarizing different strategies and business models that non-profit organizations implement as well as economic and social factors that affect the success of these organizations. The second part of this study focuses specifically on the American Cancer Society’s special event fundraiser, Relay for Life. An initial analysis of similar fundraisers hosted by non-profit organizations affiliated with research and awareness for a specific disease was performed to gain insight into how these fundraisers are typically planned to maximize donations collected. Based on the conclusions found from this case study analysis, I created a survey to administer to colleges and universities in New England that host a Relay for Life event. The results from this survey of twelve participating schools, along with data on all 54 schools in New England that host a Relay for Life (obtained from the American Cancer Society) were analyzed to find conclusions about which independent variables are most influential in hosting a successful Relay for Life event. Success was measured based on the total funds raised by each college or university, as well as average funds raised per participant. From the results of this study, informational material has been created and will be made available to all colleges and universities in the United States that host a Relay for Life so adjustments to marketing techniques and other event planning strategies can be made to increase fundraising levels. An increase in fundraising levels at the college level will greatly increase the net funds raised by the American Cancer Society and hopefully speed up the process of finding a cure for cancer.