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How To Run A Dance Marathon Fundraiser

Candace Cody
Candace Cody

2020 was a year without enough dancing. This pandemic has taken a lot of things away from us, but one of the saddest is hitting the dancefloor with your friends.

Of course pandemics aren’t about to stop us from getting our groove on. Whether you’re ready to be back in person or you’re hosting a virtual event, a dance marathon fundraiser is the best way to give folks an opportunity to shake their booties for a cause.

It’s a great way to get your supporters up and moving, excite the community, and inspire people to donate. And people donating to my nonprofit makes me do my happy dance.

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Want to know how it works? We’ll show you…along with a few dancing GIFs.

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Running An In-Person Dance Marathon Fundraiser

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Every year Cardinal O’Hara High School hosts the Danny Hammond Dance Marathon, and it’s incredibly successful. Last year they raised over $85k of a $50k goal. How do they do it? Let’s take a look at the formula.

The ideal way to host a dance marathon is in person: there’s just something about a room full of people who simply will not stop dancing that is inspiring. Here’s how it usually works:

  1. Find a space. You’re looking for a big area that can hold a lot of dancers moving and grooving, and that has the ability to play music. School gyms work wonderfully. Be careful to consider costs in putting on the event and ensure you have above a 70% ROI to ensure the dance marathon is worthwhile for your nonprofit.
  2. Set your overall fundraising and participant goals. Think about how much you’re looking to raise and the overall impact that will be made from the event. Consider also setting a goal for how many participants you want to activate. A great way to ensure you meet your goals is to consider how much you can expect each participant to bring in. If you have a $30,000 goal, and aim to activate 30 participants, you need each participant to raise $1000.
  3. Set up an online fundraising site to host all the event details and help streamline donations and registration all in one place.
  4. Invite your dancers! Your dancers will also be your fundraisers. Dancers (either as individuals or teams) set up peer-to-peer fundraising pages to raise money. You’ll want to start getting participants signed up to fundraise about 4-6 weeks ahead of your event so they have time to reach their fundraising goals. If you want to collect a registration fee, CauseVox’s registration tiers make it easy for folks to sign up and create their fundraising page all in one.
  5. Set a time frame. For college students or adults you could run a 12 or 24-hour marathon. For younger students or families maybe it only lasts 4 hours. This is how long your dancers need to keep dancing.
  6. Offer incentives. As a best practice, offer incentives for individuals and teams. The more they raise, the more prizes or special privileges they receive.
  7. Start the music and let the dancing begin! The idea is that anyone who enters has to keep dancing for the full length of the marathon. If you’re working with teams, different members of the team can tag off throughout the marathon. This is where the prizes come into play: maybe your dancers can earn one song of rest, or the power to change the song.
  8. Celebrate victory! Celebrate your winners and thank all your participants + report back on the funds raised by quantifying the impact. Ensure your community feels like they’ve participated in doing something good!

CauseVox allows your fundraisers to create individual or team pages, making it easy for participants to register for your dance marathon fundraiser and start fundraising online with an < 60 second registration process.

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Personal fundraising page on CauseVox

The Danny Hammond Dance Marathon did a fun twist on teams: they had each department of the school create a team, and added teams for each year of graduating classes. 

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If you’re not sure what kind of incentives to offer, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered:

  • Choose a song
  • Get one song of rest
  • Win prizes
  • Exclusive experiences (special dance lessons, featured guests, etc.)
  • Donate a dollar to get a minute of rest time

You can also have some in the moment donation incentives. Maybe you let people donate a couple dollars in order to get a shout out from the DJ or change a song they don’t like. 

Don’t be afraid to add additional creative elements to the dance marathon formula. The more entertainment you provide, the more excited your dancers will be.

Maybe you offer exciting snacks throughout the marathon provided by local businesses. Maybe you have a costume contest. Maybe you have themed hours with music that inspires different kinds of dancing (who wouldn’t want a 20s themed hour?). You can even add in prizes for people with the best dance moves or the biggest spirit. Truly the sky is the limit.

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Planning A Virtual Or Hybrid Dance Marathon Fundraiser

Now that we’re all safely socially distanced, planning a dance marathon looks a bit different. The concept is the same: set the time frame, invite dancers, and see who can dance the longest.

But instead of doing it all together in one place, you can host it virtually through a live stream. You can also use these techniques to do a hybrid model with some people dancing in person and others distanced.

Pick a streaming service like Zoom or Google Meet and invite your participants to join from their own homes. They can safely dance in their own space while you provide the music, an emcee, a timeclock, and all the other accouterments.

One thing you’ll want to keep in mind is how many people you can see on your screen at once. You do need someone keeping an eye on the dancers to make sure they’re always moving. If you have too many dancers, you can break them up into different groups with each group meeting in a different Zoom room. That way your monitors can see everyone and note when someone drops out.

Now you can start to get creative. Here are some fun ways that you can spice up the dance at home:

  • Have family members act as a team: one has to be dancing at all times.
  • You can do themed hours. Maybe one hour is all 90s music, another is all “songs white people love”, and another is line dances.
  • Offer a Zoom breakout room that streams dance movies throughout the night to get people inspired.
  • Have participants come in costumes.
  • Invite dance instructors or Zumba teachers to come and teach mini-classes for people to dance along to.

Once you have the basics of participants joining a video chat and dancing the night away, you can add your own twists to your heart’s content.

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Grace Center held a virtual move-a-thon that used these virtual dance marathon ideas. They invited participants to make a small donation, and on the day of the event held dance classes to get people moving together.

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Thinking of other virtual fundraising event opportunities? Check out our 23 Top Virtual Fundraising Ideas for more inspiration.

If you’re ready to get started grab some friends you want to dance with:

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You don’t have to be a good dancer.

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All you have to do is have fun.

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Run Your Dance Marathon on CauseVox

When you’re ready to go, let CauseVox power your virtual fundraising with our software that’s easy to use, hassle free, and helps you bring in more donations.

Get started today with our hassle-free software designed to raise more. 

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