This is derived from Elyse Meardon’s article on the CMN Hospitals site.
At over 400 colleges, universities, and K-12 schools across North America each year, students dance for 8 to 40 hours straight in support of their local children’s hospital. This year Dance Marathon was named as the fastest growing program in the Peer-to-Peer Fundraising 30, conducted each year by the Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum. The program saw a 19.6% increase in 2017 raising a total of $39 million. Elyse Meardon, Managing Director of Strategic Partnerships & Dance Marathon at Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, explains the success:
Anyone who has experienced Dance Marathon is never shocked to hear about how this program defies nonprofit trends year after year. The hundreds of thousands of students across the nation know what it feels like to be a part of this powerful movement.
Elyse notes that the wild growth comes at a time when many programs within the Fundraising 30 saw a decrease:
With a 5% increase in fundraising being considered an outstanding year for a peer-to-peer program, Miracle Network Dance Marathon programs increase their fundraising at an average of 15-25% year-over-year. Dance Marathon is now ranked as the 14th largest peer-to-peer fundraising program in the country.
Dance Marathon is now ranked as the 14th largest peer-to-peer fundraising program in the country.
Many are surprised to learn that Dance Marathon is entirely student run:
Each individual school’s Dance Marathon organization is led by a leadership team, comprised entirely of students. They cultivate an autonomous and authentic movement on their campuses. Even more impressive: the students serving in leadership positions turn over every year – meaning that new students are often stepping in to run the organizations who previously haven’t held that leadership position. But through their involvement in Dance Marathon, students learn skills such as peer management, delegation, conflict resolution, strategic planning and public speaking that they can practically apply throughout their collegiate and professional careers.
Peer-to-peer fundraising is at the very core of Dance Marathon’s success, according to Elyse:
90% of their fundraising efforts are being accomplished through peer-to-peer giving. Students set personal fundraising goals and many programs provide incentives for students who reach specific milestones, including inducting students who raise over $1,000 into the ‘Comma Club,’ recognizing the comma they’ve added to their individual fundraising total.
Often the impact of Dance Marathoners has a tangible legacy. Elyse notes an example:
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta recently named its comprehensive inpatient rehabilitative unit gym the ‘UGA Miracle Gym,’ after University of Georgia’s Dance Marathon, known as UGA Miracle, surpassed the $1M mark in their annual fundraising for the first time in 2016. Aside from the improved equipment and spaces that their fundraising has helped provide, UGA Miracle impacts future generations of doctors as their fundraising also supports CHOA’s Physiatry Fellowship, a training program for rehabilitation physicians.
So how is it that students have such a big impact? Elyse explains:
Dance Marathon organizations build loyal supporters by tapping into the Gen Z and Millennial generations' desire to make a difference in their communities through action. These organizations activate their following by empowering each individual to realize the difference they can make in their community, not only giving them an outlet to do so, but also communicating the impact of that difference back to them. This humanizes the issue, even if a supporter has never been directly impacted by a local children’s hospital. These young people aren’t just hosting philanthropic events on their campuses – they’re harnessing a movement. They are this generation, fighting for the next.
We’re delighted for the success of our client CMN Hospitals and their effective use of DonorDrive to power this growing program.