If you’re looking for a fun way to raise money for your cause, hosting a dance-a-thon is where it’s at! Not only do dance-a-thons get people’s hearts pumping, but they also provide an excellent opportunity to rally support and do some peer-to-peer fundraising for your nonprofit.
Below we’ll take a closer look at how to execute a successful dance-a-thon fundraiser; so, grab your dancing kicks, and let's start planning an event that will have everyone boogying for your organization.
What is a Dance-a-thon Fundraiser?
A dance-a-thon fundraiser (or: “danceathon”—it’s totally up to you how you want to spell it) is a peer-to-peer event where people dance for an extended period to raise money for charity. As part of organizing a dance-a-thon, individuals or groups of people set a fundraising goal and ask friends, family, and community members to pledge on their behalf as a way of raising funds for an organization.
The event itself can last anywhere from a few hours to an entire day, with participants taking turns dancing or dancing as a team. When you make it appropriate for all ages and add a few dance awards into the mix, lots of people from the community will flock for a chance to support a worthy cause while also shaking a tail feather or two.
How do You Prep for Hosting a Dance-a-thon Fundraiser?
To run a successful dance-a-thon fundraiser, there are a few key things you'll need to do:
- Secure a location. If your dance-a-thon is going to be an in-person or hybrid event, you’ll want to make sure you lock down a space that can accommodate the number of participants you expect. Community centers, school gymnasiums, local theaters, and even outdoor spaces like parks and netless tennis courts (if weather permits) are great venue options since they typically provide enough space for attendees to let loose. Don’t forget to finalize any permits or permissions that might come along with your venue of choice.
Venue Must-Haves: Make sure the location has bathrooms, seating areas, and a stage if you plan to have live entertainment.
- Use the right fundraising tools. You’ll need a way to promote, sell tickets, process donations, and allow teams to track their fundraising progress for your dance-a-thon. Instead of wasting time and energy piecing together a bunch of random platforms that don’t integrate well and are limited or narrow in the services they offer, consider adopting an all-in-one digital fundraising platform, like Panorama by FrontStream, so that everything is easily accessible and all in one place.
- Get volunteers on board. Volunteers are an essential component of any fundraising event. You’ll want enough volunteers to help set up the space before the fundraiser, check people in as they arrive, hand out drinks and snacks, collect donations, and assist with post-event cleanup.
- Reach out to sponsors and vendors. Begin lining up your vendors and sponsors well in advance. See if any local restaurants are interested in donating their time, staff, and cost of goods for the day in lieu of becoming a sponsor. (Working as a vendor at a fundraiser is a great way for local businesses to grow their clientele base.) Once you have sponsors and vendors locked in, make sure to promote their brand logos on your event webpage and live at your event to show appreciation for the partnership.
- Invest in music. No dance-a-thon is complete without music! Rent a solid sound system and provide plenty of music options to keep people dancing and energized. Hiring a local DJ who can keep the tunes flowing and take song requests from guests is also a must.
- Don't forget refreshments! Guests are going to break a sweat and will need to stay hydrated. By offering snacks and drinks, you’ll ensure guests have enough energy to continue dancing, and the longer they dance, the more money they raise for your cause.
How do You Address Challenges of Running a Dance-a-thon?
There are potential pitfalls to hosting a dance-a-thon fundraiser, but the good news is that most of these challenges are avoidable if you prepare before they crop up:
- Start recruiting participants early. Some people might need an extra nudge to sign up and commit to dancing for an extended period. Start promoting your event well in advance and offer incentives to encourage people to participate.
- Provide coaching tips to fundraising team captains. It’s natural for people to feel uncomfortable asking for money, even if it’s for a worthy cause they wholeheartedly believe in. By providing coaching tips on how to ask for donations (like emphasizing the importance of both being specific when talking about goals and personalizing their ask with storytelling, for instance), you ensure that fundraisers will feel more confident and steadfast in following through on their mission.
- Set reasonable fundraising goals. Make sure you have a clear goal in mind and communicate it to your participants and supporters to motivate them to fundraise and promote the dance-a-thon on your organization’s behalf. Also, consider offering rewards for those who reach certain fundraising milestones—a little friendly competition is a great motivator. Plus, everyone loves a t-shirt reward!
- Get the logistics down. Coordinating an event that lasts several hours requires careful and pragmatic logistics management, so having an organized team you can trust and delegate tasks to is You'll need to secure a venue, sound system, refreshments, and volunteers, as well as plan for parking (plus other forms of transportation, especially if the event is in a city) and other details.
Remember: When planning a dance-a-thon, there are too many moving pieces for one organizer to tackle on their own; it’s essential that you delegate tasks to a team you know and trust to make everything run smoothly.
- Put safety first. Participants will be exerting energy for hours, and you want them to stay safe. As we mentioned above, plenty of water, chocolate milk, and calorie-dense snacks are necessary. But you also want volunteers monitoring for fatigue or exhaustion, and you’ll want to have first aid resources on hand in case anyone twists an ankle or has an asthma attack.
- Beat the chance of burnout. Dancing for several hours isn’t only physically draining; it’s also mentally exhausting. Offer unlimited bathroom breaks, entertainment—like hula lessons or a talent show—and fun activities (think: limbo competition, a karaoke dance round, zany dance awards, or an auction) to keep people engaged and excited throughout the event.
Bonus: You can raise even more funds for your cause if you find a vendor open to donating refreshments, so you don’t need to worry about making up the initial cost. Also, consider placing a Donation “Tip” Jar (clearly stating all tips go to the nonprofit) up at the counter or table to encourage extra impromptu moments of generosity.
When do You Begin Planning a Dance-a-thon?
Timing is vital for hosting a successful peer-to-peer event like a dance-a-thon, so the short answer: The earlier, the better. Allow yourself enough time to organize and promote your dance-a-thon to potential supporters. Participants will also want enough time to collect plenty of pledges for your cause. Ideally, you should begin planning your dance-a-thon at least three to six months in advance, depending on the size of the event.
Keep in mind that different aspects of your event planning will exist on timelines that might not ideally align with what you have in mind, so you want some cushion in case an unexpected dilemma crops up. For example, you don’t want to be blindsided by learning you need to acquire permits to use a public park three months in advance when you have already set and promoted the event date for the following month.
Keys to Making Your Dance-a-thon Fundraiser a Total Success
No one wants their dance-a-thon to be like one of those awkward junior high school dances where kids station themselves quietly in corners and are too shy to get on the dance floor. Luckily, there are plenty of things you can do to ensure that your fundraiser shows guests a great time and helps you meet your fundraising goals.
- Promote early, often, and in a variety of ways. Start promoting your dance-a-thon fundraiser online and throughout the community as soon as you secure the location on a specific date. Besides relying partially on the power of word-of-mouth, take to all your social media platforms with a sign-up and donation page link. Ask followers, friends, and family to not only participate in the event but also to share the event info with their networks, ask their people to do the same, and so on.
Also, consider printing flyers with event info and a QR code that links to your event sign-up page that you and your team can plaster all around heavily trafficked areas of your community. Outside of ATMs, bus stops, gas station pumps, under windshield wipers in parking lots, local dance studios, dance clubs, and even cash registers at cafes, supermarkets, convenience stores, and other local businesses—get creative. (But make sure to ask permission from business owners before putting up flyers on or in their property!)
Social Media Tip: TikTok is a perfect platform for promoting your dance-a-thon fundraiser. Create a specific hashtag before the event (example: #DanceAThonChallenge). Then challenge people to upload their best dance sequences on TikTok with that hashtag; whoever manages to get the most “likes” for their video will be announced at the event, and the individual (or team) will win a special prize. Not only will this pique people’s interest leading up to the event, the videos and hashtag combination will work as a form of free marketing and guarantee a larger, excited turnout on the big day.
- Offer prizes and awards. Everyone likes to feel like a winner, so it’s a great idea to give guests plenty of opportunities to take part in a little friendly competition. Better yet, you can raise even more than what you get from ticket sales when you offer guests the chance to “buy in” to specific mini-dance competitions that you hold throughout the fundraiser for chances to win prizes and clout. We mentioned a limbo competition earlier, but there are plenty of options, like a breakdancing contest, team dances by age group, and Simon Says, just to name a few.
“Day-of" Tip: Consider adding a silent auction or paddle-up to your dance-a-thon for an extra way to raise funds and engage your guests!
- Make it fun for everyone. The more inclusive your event is, the more tickets you’ll sell for your cause and the more fun everyone will have. Try to make your dance-a-thon work for all ages, so entire families can attend. Guests can meet up with friends and/or meet new people their own age when they get there.
You also want to ensure that your event is welcoming to folks with disabilities. Ramps, elevators, handicap-accessible bathrooms, and seating in quiet spaces are a few things to keep in mind as you’re planning.
- Follow up with Thank You letters. When supporters feel seen and appreciated, they’re more likely to attend future events and donate to your cause repeatedly. By sending your attendees a personalized Thank You letter shortly after the event, you’re doing something kind for both the participant and the future of your cause.
Promotion Tip: Hire or ask a local photographer/videographer to donate their skills on the day of the event. (A great option: find a talented photography student who would jump on the chance to build up their portfolio!) Use photos and video clips post-event to call for donations from people who didn’t attend and to promote your dance-a-thon next year.
How can FrontStream Help with Your Next Dance-a-thon Fundraiser?
Are you thinking about hosting a dance-a-thon in the coming months? Our all-in-one fundraising solution has everything you need—from ticketing and receipting to customizable communications— to run a successful peer-to-peer or “a-thon" event that the whole community will rave about. Get in touch with us today to learn more about how we can do more good for your cause together!