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The Mambo Health Gaming (MamboHG) team has been thinking quite a bit about the many positive market and social trends we are witnessing. We are optimistic these trends will continue and additional future development looks positive as well.

With MamboHG’s first product, MamboWalk, we are acting on the positive trends in fundraising, social networks & gaming and health & wellness.

Fundraising

The growth in walkathons has been incredible over the last 20 years and the growth of online giving has also been growing at rapidly for the last several years. It is great to see two highly beneficial social goods are both moving to the same trajectory. At MamboWalk, we are inspired by these trend.

Yet there are a lot of barriers for charities to put together a viable event. The logistics of putting on a major walkathon are time consuming and expensive. There are also barriers created for the walkers, for many of the major events the minimum dollars raised can be as much as $2500.

Still, these drawbacks have not been enough the stifle the growth of the walkathon. We believe that many charities and walkers lack the resources to do a major charity walk, instead would be interested participating in a MamboWalk.

Social Media & Gaming

Also worth noting is the growth of social gaming (like Farmville) and the technology of geolocation (foursquare). Social media is no longer in its infancy. The ideas around what makes social online games fun and engaging are codifying. Due to the success Facebook, there is an audience that understands the current social and casual game mechanism.

Health & Wellness

People are looking for ways to engage in better health behaviors. Healthcare costs are rising. So, groups such as businesses and insurers are search for engaging healthy activities. Walking works. Providing a way to engage in wellness each and everyday is a core goal of MamboWalk.

The Mambowalk.com team is optimistic. We believe in folks desire to do good by doing great!

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This great blog by Wendy Bumgardner examines just what an expensive proposition a Walkathon is… and asked if the money is getting to the finish line.

At MamboWalk.com our goal is to help charities raise more money and at the same time help people get fit. I would love to chat with Wendy sometime to learn more about her mission!!!

Charity Walk Backlash?

Are charity walks and runs worth they money put into them? Smart Money has a feature article on the history and evolution of charity walks, runs, rides and extreme sports. They bring up many debating points and feature one critic who staged an anti-walk “Walk to Prevent Walking.” Smart Money: Are Charity Walks and Races Worth the Effort?

I’ve walked and volunteered for several large charity walks, including the 3-Day Breast Cancer Walk (when hosted by Pallotta TeamWorks) and the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. Both of those involve raising thousands of dollars in order to be allowed to participate, plus have a challenging walking distance to complete each day. Similarly, I’m signed up for the For A Cause France 2011 walk/ride and must both fundraise and train to complete a half marathon a day for five days.

Do charity walks bring in new money?
What was the net effect? Were my sponsors just paying to send me on a walking vacation? Each time I walked I was able to raise the minimum from friends and relatives, and in addition I chipped in what the organizers said was the overhead cost to participate. Wouldn’t that same money have gone to breast cancer charities without me asking? I think not. I think that these events energize their participants as fundraisers to generate money that wouldn’t come through other means.

Would I have raised $3000 per year for breast cancer charities without signing up for a walk? In my case, no. I never did before. And I’ve never fundraised except when required to participate. For example, I’ve been on relay teams where fundraising was suggested for a designated charity, but not required, so I didn’t fundraise (nor did other team members.) It takes time, effort, and stepping out of your comfort zone to ask people for money. It’s not something I do unless I have vowed to do it for a specific event. I think the same is true for most participants. They are not fundraisers apart from the events.

Do the charities really get enough income from these walks to justify the effort? That is a budgetary decision each charity makes each year. If they weren’t worth the effort, charities would move on to different methods of fundraising. The free market decides whether they are worth the effort. Any successful charity stops doing things that don’t work.

Splitting the market
I agree that the market is glutted with 5K/10K charity walks and runs in many cities. Often there are several to choose from on prime weekends, all competing for routes, racers and donations. But if competition is really so fierce, smart charities will look for better ways to raise funds.

What justifies the overhead costs?
The overhead costs don’t go into a black hole. Much of it pumps up the economy of the locale where the event is held. Overhead costs for these events include food, beverages, support vehicle rentals, and fees to local governments to rent parks, close streets and control traffic. That helps support the economy of the city where they are held. Participants often travel, at their own expense or included in the fundraising minimum, and that is also money into the economy for hotel nights, restaurant meals, and more. In boom times maybe this all seemed wasteful, but in a recession that is money those local communities sorely need and seek out.

Energizing participants to walk
But what sucked me into these events back in 2001 was the incredibly energy they generate in turning people into walkers. Those joining in are often new to fitness walking. They have hundreds of questions about shoes, blisters, walking clothing, training, energy snacks and sports drinks. Signing up for one of these events is a great way to motivate yourself to start a walking fitness program and stick with it.

My RFAC.org France walk is less than three months away. I finished my first half marathon of the season last weekend and I’m doing another one on July 4. I am far more serious about my distance training this year with that challenge looming in September than I was last year without it. Multi-day walk training schedule

The cause is worth the effort
I myself questioned before signing up whether it was worth it from the charity perspective. I’ll be funding the event overhead as my own donation. Meanwhile, I’ll be bringing in at least $2500 for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure to fight breast cancer. That’s a good thing. Since making the decision, one of my colleagues was diagnosed with breast cancer. Because of the research done over the past 15 years, she has a better chance of being a long term survivor.

Many charities and participants say that raising awareness for their cause is a big benefit of hosting a big, visible event. There are many opportunities for press interviews about the charity and the cause. People see a sea of pink shirts walking and they may be more inclined to do breast self exams and get a mammogram. While pink ribbon-labeled products seem to be everywhere, that wasn’t the case before these charity walks ramped up. Other diseases and causes hope to break into that same level of awareness.

What do you think?

Walk 4 Life Games is a brochure published by the National Health Services in the UK. It has some great games to keep you and your family engaged while adding footsteps to you daily routine.

There are old standards like “I-Spy”… the one that I think is pretty cool, especially in the age of a camera on every phone is “Stroll, Sketch and Snap” which is a destination game that requires you to document your travel through drawings or photos.

Mambowalk.com is interested in hearing about your experiences with these games.

Choosing a Pedometer or Walking App

There is a lot of press about the health benefits of getting more walking steps into your daily routine. So, how do you know you are getting more steps?

There are several ways to measure your daily activity. The most common is a pedometer. More recently, iPhone and Android developers have put out dozens of apps that can measure and record your progress as well. So let’s take a look at some of the ways I have been measuring my daily progress lately. 

 
1. Old School:

I have measured my standard walking gait, (you can too). Mine is about 2 feet 4 inches. Since, I know this distance, I can take walks that I also know the distance of, such as from home to the train. I can divide the distance by the length of my steps. 

So, the train is 3/4 of a mile away. It take me 2,260 steps to walk a mile. Thus, a walk to the train talks 2,260 * .75. Rounded up that i s 1700 step… Voila. That is way to go old school. 

2. Mechanical/Analog:

I have used an analog pedometer, a device that measures the distance a person travels on foot. While current pedometers are precise electronic tools, this was not always the case. Actual pedometers are over 200 years old, and the concept of a pedometer still hundreds older.  Romans used tools to measure how far their armies walked. Leonardo DaVinci in the 15th century, imagined them. Thomas Jefferson is generally credited with inventing the modern pedometer. Then in 1930s it became a much more popular. In America the devices were popular with runners and with those who walked long distances.

You can find very inexpensive pedometers that use this very same technology today. 

3. Transition to the Transistor:

Most of the pedometers our there have switched over to electronic operation, this meant that pedometers weighed less and could keep a more accurate track of distance traveled. However, even these pedometers paled in comparison to modern, digital pedometers.

I have tried some of the newest breed of pedometer that quite sophisticated. Some use electronic sensors called accelerometers other use global positioning systems and a few successfully use both. Some of the ones I’ve tOried include Omron HJ-112 (~$30), Accusplit AE190XLG (~$35) and Garmin Forerunner 205 (~$180). 

4. The Modern Walker:

The most interesting development is that the new breed of smart phones contain an accelerometer and global position systems. Consequently, Android and iPhone developers have created pedometer and distance apps that can in some cases be a sturdy alternative to the stand alone electronic devices. Currently, there are several drawbacks that keep Apps from being a direct replacement to the stand alone devices, these include battery life, interruption of the counting your steps when using other features like taking a call. Oh yeah, and don’t forget to turn it back on after the call!!

That being said, they are quite fun to use; they do not require a separate device; and they provide a new level of connectivity that make them ready for social networking, sharing and fun.

I have tried several apps including RunKeeper, Walkmeter, Pedometer Pro and Footsteps. RunKeeper is primarily been designed for more active pursuits (I have used it for skiing as well as walking). It measure the distance and the time, it uses a GPS and creates maps of your journey. Walkmeter also has a mapping feature and measure distance. But neither is a pedometer in the sense that it measure steps, however, measuring things like elevation and routes is great fun and adds to the challenge.

Footsteps and Pedometer Pro are traditional in that they measure steps, but they do much more. They save your history, allow you to take notes and Pedometer Pro has a nifty Body Sizing feature. 

I also use Nike+, which combines the stand along pedometer, but with a twist of it communicating your activity to you smart phone. 

All of these apps also offers the ability to send your activities to update info on their proprietary sites, your Facebook and Twitter.

This is the part, we at MamboWalk, find the most compelling. We are most interested in social and gaming aspect, because this opens a whole new way to look at how people encourage, motivate and reward one another. So, try some of these out and see how it goes. Try making a game of it, challenge friends and reward yourself or a charity for your hard work. 

Stay tuned to MamboWalk.com for another way to make charitable giving fun and rewarding.

MamboWalk is a game you play every day to help you improve your health and make a difference in the world. Team up with friends to get fit, help charities and earn points to bid on cool stuff. Are you game? It all starts with taking that first step. 

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