Alpe d’HuZes: Extra­or­di­nary effort lead­ing to extra­or­di­nary results

Exhibited by
Rosalind Harber, European & UK Account Manager, Funraisin.
May 02, 2019
Medium of Communication
Mass participation
Target Audience
Type of Charity
Country of Origin
The Netherlands
Date of first appearance

SOFII’s view

This is a case of the rewards being worth the effort. Cycling or walking up a mountain usually tackled by Tour de France cyclists is one hell of a challenge but thousands of Dutch people do just that every year, travelling up the Alpe d’Huez in order to raise money for cancer research. It’s a massive logistical task but so far Alpe d’HuZes (a play in Dutch on the mountain’s name) have raised over 160 million euros for this good cause and above all become a key feature in the minds of people all over the Netherlands. 

Summary / objectives

The Alpe d’HuZes is an infamous fundraising event in the Netherlands, which raises over 10 million euros each year for the Dutch Cancer Society. Each year, the organisers aim to:

  • Recruit 5,000 participants to run, walk or cycle up the Alpe d’Huez.
  • Raise as much money as possible for long term research into the successful rehabilitation of cancer patients.
  • Organise the event for free, using gifts in kind. This means the Alpe d’HuZes team can proudly commit to ‘100 per cent donaties naar kankeronderzoek’ or ‘100 per cent of donations to cancer research’ – a flagship commitment of the event and something well known about in the Netherlands.


The Alpe d’Huez is well known in the Netherlands as a mountain in the Tour de France on which Dutch cyclists have traditionally been successful. During the first event the number six was central as it challenged people to climb the mountain six times in a single day on 6/6/2006 with 66 participants. Now, the challenge is more flexible, to cater for the different participants involved, including volunteers, cancer patients themselves and children.

As the amount fundraised each year is in excess of 10 million euros, donations through Alpe d'HuZes are managed by the Dutch Cancer Society (KWF) in a separate fund: Alpe d'HuZes/KWF-fonds. 100 per cent of the money goes to scientific research, specifically on the long term rehabilitation of cancer patients (there is a recognition that there is less information about this than areas like the causes of cancer). The event is organized by Stichting Alpe d'HuZes, whose name is a combination of the name of the mountain Alpe d'Huez and the Dutch word zes (six). Although independent from the Dutch Cancer Society, the team at the Alpe d’HuZes operate as a strategic partner to the charity, and there are close ties between the two.

Creator / originator

The original creator of the event was cancer survivor Peter Kapitein. It is now run by Stichting Alpe d’HuZes, a foundation.

Special characteristics

The Alpe d’HuZes takes place in France, over five days. With their flagship commitment to ‘100 per cent of donations to cancer research’, the organising team must receive gift in kind donations for the event set up, and hundreds of volunteers to help with logistics. With the event taking place in France, and most participants coming from the Netherlands, this includes transporting all the required equipment to the mountains of the Alps - including lorries, petrol, accommodation, food, drink, marquees, technical equipment and people - for free, based on partnerships the organising committee have with local businesses. 

The event itself is also challenging, and not just physically. There are teams of cyclists who ride the route with people who have cancer. At night, participants hear talks from people who have cancer, as a reminder of why they are here and whom the event serves. There is a feeling that participants are not there only for the challenge; fundraising is absolutely crucial and to not raise the minimum (2,500 euro) is to take the place of someone else who could have done so and therefore helped further cancer research.

The online set up is complicated and unusual for a challenge event. There are captains who ride and captains who do not, volunteers who fundraise and even volunteers who ride. Fundraising is absolutely central and the event is so popular in the Netherlands that large corporate donations to both the event and individuals participating are not unusual. The platform caters to Dutch, French and English language speakers while individual and team fundraising pages enable company logos to be uploaded - showcasing the corporate sponsorship participants receive.


162 million euros have been raised since 2006 for cancer research from the event, and the organisers expect to add another 11m euros to that total in 2019.

Influence / impact

The cathartic experience of taking part in the Alpe d’HuZes means the event is embedded in the Dutch psyche. Their motto ‘opgeven is geen optie’ (‘quitting is not an option’) sets a clear vision that Alpe d’HuZes participants will continue to challenge themselves to raise funds for as long as a cure for cancer still needs to be found.

Participants take a breather on their way up the mountain. Photo by Henny van Ree.
Each year 5,000 participants take on the mighty Alpe d’Huez. Photo by Harry Kleijnen.
The Alpe d’HuZes event takes place over five days. Participants can cycle, walk or run up the mountain. Photo by Guido Bosland.
Children are able to take part as well as adults. Photo by Erwin Kessing.
The Alpe d’HuZes event is a huge event in the Netherlands and has raised over 162 million euros since it started in 2006. Photo by Ernst Jan Boering.