Fitness for a Cause: Can There Be a Better Combination?

Plus 3 Network offers a way for people to donate to their favorite charity through exercise.

Recently I came across a clever idea for combining exercise with fundraising for your favorite charity, with a social network twist. It’s called Plus 3 Network and its creator is Rick Sutton.

In short, I’m earning about 1 cent a day for my 10-mile bike commute and it goes toward a donation to Team Rwanda, paid for by Ritchey Design, Inc. My weekend rides earn more; a recent 102-mile ride raised 15 cents.

My rides could earn more if I submitted the ride using a GPS recording. A social network twist is that you can share your routes.

Rick had been Vice President of Retail Services, Specialized Bicycles, until March 2007 when he got the idea for Plus 3 Network and struck out on his own.

I met Rick briefly at a Team Rwanda event. The accomplished athlete who competed in triathlons is well suited to running a social network website. Like the triathlete, he has to master many varied aspects of maintaining a website.

The website works well. It’s easy and straightforward to enter your exercise information. I haven’t had any issues, other than quibbles about how some categories are labeled. Cycling, for example, is categorized under Road Biking.

There’s a lot I like about this concept. It gets people to exercise and that exercise directly helps your favorite cause. Rick accepts all forms of physical exercise, another big plus.

Of course, anyone can put down false numbers, and that’s one of those conundrums in the online world. Rick believes GPS is a good hook to help people back up their activity with some documentation.

According to Rick, the algorithms behind his website offer a rational way to determine how much money sponsors will donate to their charity.

Many charities are available, and more are being added. Rick’s athletic background has given him some insights to sports-based causes.

Many causes are well known: Red Cross, Team in Training, The Tech Museum, and Meals on Wheels.

You can link up with other members and share your results. There are also Challenges where token gifts are given to winners.

Plus 3 Network proudly reports it has moved more than $345,000 to non-profits. We don’t know how much healthier we are for this effort, but no doubt healthier.

If you work at a corporation, be sure to let your community relations representative and HR manager know about Plus 3 Network. It’s an excellent way for a corporation to encourage employees to stay healthy and give to a favorite cause.

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