BADM 323 Marketing Communications#

Charity Miles Practice Case#

By Paul Kienzle, Kelsey Klovens, Pat Dillon, Kaelan Lee, Melissa Dean, Miranda Johnson, and Ashleigh Lefevre

Table of Contents#









Section 1: Situation Analysis: Miranda#

External Environment#

Charity Miles exists in the mobile health industry, an industry defined by wearables and health tracking apps that monitor various forms of health information and record it for a purpose. With the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, more and more consumers turned to digital platforms to renew their health and fitness goals while in quarantine. In the United States, the recorded average time that consumers have spent on fitness apps increased from 15 hours a week in 2019 to 25 hours a week during the more recent lockdowns (Market Research Future). In terms of industry competitors, a simple perusal of the Apple App Store’s Health and Fitness app category represents the prevalence of the major brands, like Fitbit, MyFitnessPal, Google, Nike, Under Armour, Peloton, and Adidas. The fitness app health market was estimated at $3.28 billion in 2020 with a growth rate of about 21.8% (Fitness App Market Share).

Internal Environment#

Despite its adjacency to numerous non-profits, Charity Miles is a for-profit, for-purpose LLC based in New York City, founded by athlete, former lawyer, and current CEO Gene Gurkoff as well as Joe Marinucci in 2012 (Lang). Its website prioritizes simplicity and ease-of-use wherever possible, and it describes itself as “an iPhone and Android app that helps you turn all the miles you walk, run, and bike anyway into money for charity” (“FAQs”). The organizational structure of the company is quite small, with about 17 current employees, according to LinkedIn. A relevant portion of Charity Miles’ current promotions strategy lies in social media: they have an active Instagram account (with ~21,100 followers), a YouTube channel (with three videos from 8 years ago, the most viewed one at 7,200), a Twitter (with 30,500 followers), and a Pinterest account (with 11,400 monthly views and 2,500 followers). Similarly, searching the #CharityMiles on Instagram comes up with 258,432 posts from members utilizing the app. Beyond social media, Charity Miles does much of its promotion through word-of-mouth advertising via dedicated users, as well as publicity directly from the charities that it works with. Currently, Charity Miles partners with over 40 charities, from the ASPCA , to the Muscular Dystrophy Association, to Team for Kids, to Girl Up. Charity Miles also pushes large companies and major corporations like Chobani and Johnson and Johnson to get involved by partnering with them to connect the app’s corporate sponsors to the members who are using the app. In Gurkoff’s own words, “since all of our ROI is measurable, our sponsors are empowered to use their marketing budgets for good” (Lang). Thus, free advertisement from involved corporate sponsors gets the word out about the work being done at Charity Miles.

Problem Definition and Critical Factors#

One key issue that exists for Charity Miles is its low market share in relation to its competitors in the fitness app industry. Though Charity Miles has successfully garnered an audience of dedicated consumers, it is still a very small player when compared to industry giants like Google, Nike, Adidas, and Fitbit. Similarly, Charity Miles could benefit from increasing brand awareness and attracting a wider user base to create a greater social impact. This last problem is critical, because Charity Miles is unable to effectively donate to the charities it represents or stay afloat as a business without an ample and growing base of users. Currently, Charity Miles has raised $2,750,000 for charity via its member base since its founding in 2012, but the impact that Charity Miles could have is even more significant if it can manage to increase awareness of its brand and garner a wider audience (“FAQs”). A prominent critical factor in the adoption of Charity Miles by a broader audience is its incompatibility with other health apps and devices, which impacts its ease of use. To raise awareness for this brand and encourage users to download it and become members, it is imperative that Charity Miles explores the potential of becoming compatible with the brands that hold the most market share in its industry, so that users can integrate all their digital health activities simply and efficiently. It is critical that Charity Miles explores how it can connect with younger audiences like college students, by capitalizing on the fact that young adults don’t have extra funds to support causes they care about and would thus be motivated greatly by an opportunity to do so without spending a single cent of their own.

Section 2: Segmentation, Targeting, Positioning: Ashleigh#

Market Analysis and Segmentation#

The market for Charity Miles consists of two distinct user groups – corporate sponsors and members. As such, Charity Miles can be described as a two-sided network, in that the value that each draws from Charity Miles ultimately depends on the participation and buying behaviours of the other. This means that the operations and business success of Charity Miles relies heavily on maintaining the interconnection between corporate sponsors and members.

Members of Charity Miles can be described as healthy, socially conscious people who enjoy being active for a cause. They may not always be the most athletic individuals, yet they thrive on having a purpose to push them towards their exercise goals. As such, Charity Miles members can be described as “experiencers” according to the VALS Framework. Consumers in this psychographic segment are motivated by self-expression and typically have a lot of energy, to which they invest into physical exercise and social activities. This makes becoming a member of Charity Miles instantly attractive due to the fact that it logs and records a selection of different workouts, including running, walking, dancing and biking when the app is downloaded. This segment typically has a median age of 25, which is the youngest of all segments. In being young, “experiencers” have less disposable income and are often more progressive and socially engaged than older generations. This makes Charity Miles a desirable service for them to employ, as it allows them to be physically active in an environment that also enables them to express their ideas about the world at no monetary cost. Consumers are also more likely to download the app when they are beginning a new exercise routine or attempting to reach a new exercise goal, as their value for social good is more likely to make them maintain and achieve it.

Corporate sponsors are a small group of “forward-thinking”, “mission-driven” companies that care greatly about health and helping others. Charity Miles currently holds a family of seven sponsors, who, despite being from a range of different industries, can all be described as reputable, well-known brands. These are inclusive of the world’s largest and most broadly based healthcare company Johnson & Johnson, and fitness giants Fitbit and Garmin. Not only are they reputable, but these companies also are known for their commitment to creating healthier and more equitable communities, as evidenced by their willingness to support Charity Miles and their social endeavours. However, being socially engaged isn’t the only reason businesses become sponsors of Charity Miles or necessarily why they contribute their funds. Corporate sponsors are also businesses that are concerned with seeing high returns from their advertising investments (ROI). Charity Miles can promise them this by delivering premium advertising at a higher quality than ordinary banner ads. This, in turn, enables these sponsors to measure a high-quality ROI and thus reallocate a larger portion of their advertising budget to social good. Essentially, it’s a win-win for these sponsors, as Charity Miles enables them to live their values whilst also driving superior brand positioning, purchase intent and ROI. Thus, businesses are likely to become a sponsor when they are struggling to achieve results with their current mobile or social advertising initiatives.

There are three main parties involved in the buying process for Charity Miles, however, only the first party actually provides payment in exchange for the value they acquire. The buying process begins with corporate sponsors, whose financial provisions in return for high-quality ROI provides Charity Miles with the means necessary to offer their app free of charge to members and ultimately distribute raised funds to charities. Members, as the second party, download Charity Miles onto their device and choose an organization that they are going to support when logging their exercise. As such, this is the party that determines where this raised money will be allocated. The third party, the charities, are then provided with a proportion of the pool of sponsorship money depending on the donated miles that members choose to allocate.

Market Targeting#

For this IMC campaign, we will attempt to target American college students specifically. American college students range from the ages of 18-22 years-old, which means that they are only a few years younger than the median age of Charity Mile’s current psychographic segment of “experiencers”. As such, they permutate many of the same characteristics as Charity Mile’s current larger market of members and thus are an ideal audience to target specifically for a more cost-effective and penetrable marketing campaign.

College students are energetic consumers who enjoy spending their time exercising. However, oftentimes, they lack the motivation and initiative to do so due to the time constraints of school and social activities. Additionally, college is often where many young adults learn how to self-express their newly evolved ideas about the world. This is where they learn to think for themselves. As independents for the first time in their lives, many are searching for ways to translate these values into tangible actions. It is lastly important to note that demographically, college students often lack a disposable income, so realising this social change can often be a problem they face as they don’t withhold the means to donate.

Charity Miles will provide college students with a platform in which they can stay motivated to exercise whilst also allowing them to personally contribute to some of the social change they want to see in the world.

Market Positioning#

For proposed brand positioning, we want to showcase Charity Miles as the platform that re-defines exercise. We want our target audience to understand that exercise can be more than merely a chore, or a goal, or self-serving. Through becoming a member of Charity Miles, user miles can independently contribute to the change our society needs, by giving charities the funds to implement it. We want to emphasise that Charity Miles makes exercise a form of social good and a form of self-empowerment.

Our communication objectives are to inform and influence American college students to see exercise in a different light through our IMC campaign. We also strive to highlight that Charity Miles can function as a tool to achieve this new definition of exercise, and ultimately create the social change young adults hope to see in the world by simply moving. The key metrics we will use to measure the success of these objectives are “changes in overall funds raised”, “changes in social media users”, and “changes in market share”. Through this campaign, we hope to increase overall funds raised by $500,000, Instagram and Twitter followers by 20,000 users respectively, and market share by 10%.

Section 3: Message Strategy & Tactics: Kaelan and Kelsey#

We want to be selling this campaign to American college students who are between the ages of 18-22. Charity Miles needs this group of individuals as users to keep the app afloat. This age group is very active on social media platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and Snapchat. That being said, we want to focus on selling this campaign on these social media platforms to reach the target audience. The key selling benefit/focus is that you can exercise while changing society and communities around us for the better.

Ad 1

As we mentioned earlier, college is a pivotal time for young adults as they find their voice and purpose, and many of them began to exercise since they no longer have extracurriculars that used to help them exercise. Therefore, our first message is “Miles Move Mountains''. This social media ad will be an image of an individual who is around the age of a college student running next to mountains ahead of them. Then the screen will have the words “Miles Move Mountains” and “Charity Miles” in their bright green and white colors. The caption will be a quick summary of what the post means, “Sign up for charity miles! The more miles you run, the more money donated to a charity of your choice. Miles Move Mountains”. Then, a button/link will be available to “learn more” and “download the app”.

Ad 1

To piggyback off of the idea of change to inspire college students, the second message is called “It starts with a step”. In this social media ad, it will show an image of a college student activist running and taking a huge step to go with the caption that is in the ad.The words and numbers are the charity miles green. This ad will be an example of how we want to share real stories about individuals who have made a huge difference in their community because of Charity Miles. That being said, in these ads, the ads themselves will be simple and to the point like the example here. Then, the caption will explain the story of an individual and go into detail about the impact that was made and the charities that the donations went to. Specifically, how Grove Ayers ran 40,000 miles and raised money for multiple charities such as the Wounded Warrior Project and St. Judes. Then, it can provide a link to learn more and to download the app.

The tone of this campaign should be positive and uplifting. Charity Miles is used to motivate individuals to want to workout and live a happy and healthy lifestyle while making a difference in an organization that is close to their heart. The tone of this campaign needs to express the motivation and inspiration that this app can bring people. It’s very important that we keep the color scheme and theme of these ads to this campaign consistent so the messages are being portrayed equally to the target audience. The colors should be bright and easy on the eye to make the ads uplifting and easy to understand. Our goal is also to make these ads simple and to the point. The more we follow these tones, the more successful this campaign for Charity Miles will be.

Section 4: Media Strategy & Tactics: Paul#

In order for Charity Miles to obtain more market share, increase brand awareness, and gain a larger user base, we must be able to reach our target audience in a variety of ways. Effective methods of reaching our target audience of American college students aged 18-22 include social media campaigns, prime-time TV commercials, and print advertisements in campus media. We propose a four month media campaign starting in February and ending in May to coincide with the changing of the seasons and reaching our target audience before summer begins.

A social media campaign is the main focus of our media strategy because our target audience is very active on platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, FaceBook, and TikTok. By inserting sponsored, pay per click advertisements that present our main message of “Miles Move Mountains”, and using the hashtag #MilesMoveMountains, we will engage social media users to learn more about Charity Miles, follow the Charity Miles accounts, download the app, and start exercising for their favorite causes. Since 18-22-year olds spend so much time on social media, this campaign will effectively reach our target audience and prompt them to become Charity Miles users. These advertisements will run throughout the four month campaign period.

Prime time TV commercials on major national networks like NBC, CBS, ABC, and Fox will feature college aged people having a friendly exercise competition and using the Charity Miles app to track how much they’ve earned for their charity of choice. Commercial placements will mainly be made for sporting events broadcast on these networks, with a smaller portion of commercials running during prime-time TV shows that appeal to college aged students. This tactic is crucial to creating widespread awareness of Charity Miles on the national level. Commercials on NBC and CBS will air twice in February and April, and commercials on Fox and ABC will air twice in March and May in order to consistently reach our target market.

We will target 50 universities with large undergraduate enrollments to post print advertisements in campus newspaper publications. These ad postings will carry the same message that college students can make contributions to a variety of charities just by downloading the app and exercising, and since college students don’t have a lot of disposable income to directly donate to their favorite causes, Charity Miles allows them to donate by doing something they enjoy. We believe this tactic will be especially effective because word can spread quickly throughout college students’ many social groups and organizations after interacting with our advertisement in the campus newspaper. These ad postings will appear in campus newspapers three times in February and April, and twice in March and May as students will likely be on campus more often in February and April.

Throughout this 4-month campaign we will be able to spread our message throughout the target audience and increase brand awareness, market share, and gain a larger user base. We concluded on cost estimates for each vehicle by combining average costs of advertising and development along with the number of insertions. Advertising through social media is cost effective, easily measured, and is the main focus of our media plan. Broadcast and print advertising are more expensive and not as measurable, but their impacts are crucial to spreading awareness and reaching college aged students across the nation. We won’t focus on direct mail as much as the other factors because, although important to spread brand awareness, an integrated campaign with social media, broadcast, and print media will deliver the best results, and college students are typically flooded with mail as is. As for promotions, there are options that could spread brand awareness and increase the user base. Examples include referring friends to download the app or reaching a certain exercise milestone to receive a free item of Charity Miles apparel.

Section 5: Non-Advertising Promotions: Melissa#

Under Charity Miles’ Employee Empowerment Program, individual employees can create a Charity Miles account and join their company’s team. Once on the team, all members are able to view the company’s leaderboard and see how they compare to each of their peers in terms of logged physical activity. Companies also have the opportunity to create challenges unique to their team only. Given the fact that our target market is 18-22 year old college students, we propose Charity Miles implements a program dedicated solely to young adults currently enrolled in an undergraduate program at a university. Once enrolled in the program, individuals can join their university team and select the charity they want to allocate their steps/donations to. Universities will have the option of either sponsoring their students themselves, utilizing Charity Miles’ corporate sponsorship fund, or, if applicable, using a charity’s own sponsor. Across the US, colleges will compete with each other for four months to see who can raise the most money for charity whilst also encouraging their students (our target audience) to exercise and use Charity Miles.

At the end of the competition, the university with the most collective miles will be featured on the Charity Miles website. Additionally, the top 10 students across the country will be featured on Charity Miles’ website.

We will also have QR codes displayed on college campuses across the country that a student can scan with their smartphone. Once they scan the code, they will be directed to the app store where they can download the Charity Miles app.

Section 6: Integration and Evaluation: Pat#

The table above highlights our integrated marketing campaign that we strongly believe creates a comprehensive approach to targeting college students. The primary means for integration will be correlating our social media, print, and television activities to the Charity Miles’ Student Empowerment Program. We will use the media strategy to both highlight the connection between exercise and charity contributions as well as creating buzz through competition between schools. Competition and positively contributing to social issues are two areas most college students can get excited about and further incentivize participation. For example, toward the latter half of our media campaign, we could include the standings of the top exercising universities to maintain a sense of pride and commitment to the app and its charities. Overall, this campaign strives to create connections between other fitness apps, universities, and students in the same way Charity Miles connects exercising to charitable donations.

The greatest benefit of Charity Miles being app based is it allows the client and our agency to easily track usership and charitable contributions. Our marketing campaign’s success will be based upon two primary statistics: our ability to attract users to link their profiles from other fitness apps to Charity Miles and influencing students across a range of universities to sign up. We will compare MAU (monthly active users) and DAU (daily active users) before and after the campaign’s launch to determine if our campaign successfully highlighted Charity Miles’ compatibility and benefit. If we are successful, the client should see a steady increase in usership from month to month and charities should experience the same increases in contributions. Also, increased usership will lead to more corporate sponsors because of higher visibility, further increasing revenue streams. During the sign-up process, students will need to include their university affiliation to contribute their data to the wider university metrics. This will also allow us to compare affiliated students to public data on the size of university populations. Overall, the evaluation will use user data from the Charity Miles app, partnering fitness apps, and university population statistics for a clear understanding of usership trends. This will allow the client and partners to track increases or decreases in usership, the percent of users from other apps linking their accounts to Charity Miles, and the percent of university students signing up. The potential problems we hope to actively avoid are usership stagnancy or loss and a scenario where a significantly lower percentage of users from a particular university are signing up. The primary means for "trouble-shooting" these two problems will first be examining if it is a messaging or cultural issue.

When we air a commercial or send out a social media post, we will be able to see how usership was affected from the moment it was launched to a determined time afterwards. This will allow us to determine what type of media tool and messaging works best or needs refinement. If Charity Miles receives a significantly lower usership increase during a certain messaging event, we will examine why this one is particularly failing compared to the more successful messaging. This efficient "trouble-shooting" method is made possible by Charity Miles being app-based and the accessibility of the usership data. A cultural issue will arise if a certain region and its associated universities and their students are not joining at the same rate as other regional universities. This may be caused by different exercising patterns influenced by the area’s weather or geographics. We may find that during February and March, the northern area of the country is more inclined for snowboarding and skiing due to the weather rather than running or walking. In this scenario, we will work with Charity Miles to allow for a wider range of exercise. Social media allows us to get a better idea of how certain areas exercise compared to others. To address a cultural issue, we will better tailor marketing assets and cater the type of exercise to the users of the struggling region. When it comes to raising money through activities like running, we want to move just as quickly to address problems as they arise. Overall, we firmly believe there is no better incentive to exercise than translating it to raising money for charity.


Media Schedule

Social Media (5)PPCPPCPPCPPC
Campus Newspapers (50)3x502x503x502x50

Media Budget

MediumCost Estimate
Social Media$40,000
Direct Mail$20,000

Budget Allocation

Budget Allocation

Integrated Marketing Table

Charity Miles' Student Empowerment Programxxxx
Social Media (5)xxxx
Campus Newspapers (50)xxxx


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