Dance Marathon Fundraising Ideas: 4 Awesome Strategies for Success

Dance Marathons are incredibly fun, engaging fundraising events that are perfect for groups focused on younger donors, beneficiaries, and audiences.

They’re extremely popular with college groups, since most Dance Marathons rely heavily on peer-to-peer (P2P) fundraising strategies and tactics.

With a P2P fundraising solution helping to power Dance Marathons, your team can:

  • Give supporters the tools to go out, promote your cause, and actively fundraise with their networks.
  • Create competition and excitement before, during, and after your Dance Marathon.
  • Build a larger community around your mission and nonprofit beyond Dance Marathons.

Planning a successful Dance Marathon requires understanding how a Dance Marathon actually works. Dance Marathons typically last between 24 and 28 hours and require participants to dance (aka stay on their feet and moving) for a majority of the time.

Participants of a Dance Marathon use P2P fundraising to raise money for their team, which can be a group, club, or just the individual dancer. Throughout the Dance Marathon there are activities, competitions, awards, and other events to spur that competitive fundraising element and keep participants engaged.

In this article, we’ll take a deeper look at Dance Marathons and uncover strategies and ideas to raise even more money while having fun with your donors and dancers.

  1. Dance Marathon Activity Ideas
  2. Dance Marathon Recruitment Ideas
  3. Dance Marathon Theme Ideas
  4. Dance Marathon Fundraising Incentives


1. Dance Marathon Activity Ideas

These activities are a sure-fire way to keep your dancers excited, energized, and on their feet during your next Dance Marathon!

Swing Dance Competition

Dance Marathons are incredibly long events, it’s critical for organizers to execute exciting events to keep participants engaged, motivated, awake, and on their feet for 24-48 hours.

To get the competitive juices flowing and create the energy that help propel fundraising, create competitions during your Dance Marathon. There’s nothing like a dance competition during a Dance Marathon.

Swing dance competitions are fun contests that get people out of their comfort zones and really wake them up. Because not many people know how to swing dance, making it a competition is an exercise in creativity. Just make sure nobody swings anyone too hard!

Talent Show

In the first few hours of your Dance Marathon, you’ll need to come right out of the gate with exciting, engaging activities to get people hyped and set the tone that they have a fun few days ahead of them. Here’s a couple strategies to ensure your talent show is a hit:

  • Promote the Show: Before they even arrive at your Dance Marathon, make sure you announce and promote that there will be a talent show throughout the event. That way, they can plan their activity and really bring the competition!
  • Stage Your Acts: Another best practice is to spread acts throughout the Dance Marathon. Every five hours or so, bring another 3 or 4 groups up to perform their talent and get the participants, volunteers and supporters pumped up!
  • Pump Up the Winners: Have judges or participants score each act; be sure to use a visual scoreboard, social media and text messaging to maximize engagement. Create an awards ceremony to crown the talent winners.
    After all, if the energy, fun and enthusiasm are high throughout your Dance Marathon, people will have a blast and you can carry that connection past your event into long-term evangelism for your cause.

Hula Hoop Contest

Dance marathons are all about having fun with friends and new acquaintances. And nothing says ‘I’m here to make friends’ like a good old-fashioned hula hoop competition.

These are quite literally the perfect complementary activity for Dance Marathons. They’re quick, easy, and can be spun up anywhere at any time.

Here’s a few quick strategies to add a Hula Hoop contest to your next Dance Marathon:

  • Break off smaller groups throughout the Dance Marathon
  • Provide enough hula hoops for the groups to “face-off”
  • Ask them members to hula hoop until there is only one winner standing for a team
  • Have winners of each team “face-off” advance to the winner round
  • Hold hula “face-offs” till a winner is crowned
  • Offer prizes, certificates or swag to the individual and team to maximize excitement

Hula hoop mania can take off quickly at your Dance Marathon, so be sure to stock your event center with hula hoops!

2. Dance Marathon Recruitment Ideas

Dance Marathons can take time, but they are definitely worth it. Here’s a few ideas to get more people out on the dance floor!

Tag a Friend

One of the foundational strategies of P2P fundraising campaigns is harnessing the power of social media and social networks. Like most social fundraisers, your Dance Marathon will depend on activating your most loyal supporters and fundraising ambassadors.

Unlike a typical 5k run or golf outing, Dance Marathons require participants to dedicate a large amount of time to your cause. That’s why the more the merrier!

Here’s a few best practices for driving social connections and creating more reach for your Dance Marathon:

  • Ask participants, teams and loyal regular supporters share their fundraising campaigns on their social channels.
  • Create a social media toolkit and/or prepared messages to make it easy to share your Dance Marathon.
  • Have them tag friends to join and share pics of previous Dance Marathons to showcase the fun vibe.
  • Encourage them to use hashtags for wider reach and social pick up.
  • Create Milestone badges for social media achievement.
  • Create an Ambassador Fundraising campaign, where they get credit for signing up additional participants, attendees to watch, and total donations.

By fully utilizing social media, you’ll not only get more people on board, but you’ll spread your message to a much wider socially motivated donor audience.

Build a Team

Another go-to P2P fundraising strategy is team fundraising. This is even smarter with Dance Marathons, since you’re trying to fill your space and get more dancers on the floor.

You should still provide a single dancer fundraising option, but also give your participants the ability to sign up a part of a larger team.

Sorority and fraternity teams are especially popular at university Dance Marathons. Every individual should have their own individual fundraising campaign, but there should be a general team page as well for dancers who want to attend and participate but don’t want to have their own fundraising campaign.

Here’s five must have tips to create a positive giving experience and maximize donations:

  1. Make sure participant pages can be customized to include personal pictures.
  2. Have participants create personal statements (i.e., why they are fundraising; why they are connected to your cause).
  3. Ensure CTAs are clearly marked at located near the top of the participant page to convert more donations.
  4. Showcase impact statement on each page (i.e., what specific gift amount enable your cause to fund/do).
  5. MISSION & MORE MISSION ensure your mission is highlighted and prominent on each page! Let these donors know why your cause is special and impactful in the community.

Incentives, Premiums, and Milestones

Your most competitive P2P participants usually don’t need additional motivation, but the average participants might need a bit more encouragement to get serious about raising funds and recruiting.

Think about how you can use contests to:

  • Give participants a chance to win cool prizes
  • Use contests that are time-based with reasonable incentives
  • Highlight contests with separate leaderboards and other visual elements

Another huge motivator is premiums. Offering incentives at certain fundraising and recruiting milestones is an effective way to motivate behavior and incentivize higher fundraising levels, a win-win! Here are a few tips to keep in mind when using these tactics:

  • Premiums can include badges and moving up to exclusive experiences on event day, and of course, cool merchandise
  • Use customer messaging, badges, and labeling of fundraising activities to motivate participants to raise more

3. Dance Marathon Theme Ideas

A great theme can take your Dance Marathon from ‘same old same’ to ‘the best weekend of my life’ for dancers.

Dancing Through the Decades

Everyone loves a dance party, there’s no doubt about that. Dancing to the same music over and over (and over) for two straight days can quickly become tedious and boring.

This is why a Dancing through the Decades party is such a great idea. There’s nothing like a 2-hour block of:

  • 60’s Motown hits
  • 70’s disco tunes
  • 80’s rock
  • 90’s pop
  • Music Genre themes: hip hop, country, rap, alt rock – so many great jams to choose from!

Bonus points if you have costumes and props for each decade!


90’s Party

A spin-off of the Dancing Through the Decades theme is the more focused 90’s party. There’s nothing better than wild 90’s costumes, 90’s music, and all-out 90’s decorations.

The best part about a 90’s part is that there is no shortage of inspiration. Whether you want to go the boy band route or channel 90’s cartoons, there are plenty of games, contests, and party music to last the entire time.


All Sports All the Time

Although you’re technically hosting a Dance Marathon, all that is really required is that participants stand for the allotted time (and even this requirement can be flexible if you want it to be).

Hosting a sports-themed Dance Marathon is a great way to keep people moving and keep them awake! Consider fun sports or competitions like:

  • Tug of war
  • Bean bag toss
  • Jump rope
  • Dodgeball
  • Dunk competition
  • ‘Around the World’ basketball
  • Talent show

Using your fundraising ticketing system you can have participants sign up for events like these, and so many more. Think of your Dance Marathon like a field day complete with events, stations, teams, and even awards.

4. Dance Marathon Fundraising Incentives

Nonprofits rely on dancers and participants to fundraise before, during, and after the Dance Marathon. Here’s a few ideas to keep the donations coming in.

Team and Individual Fundraising Awards

While Dance Marathons are a fun way to bring donors and supporters together, they’re also prime fundraising events. Well-planned and well-attended Dance Marathons can bring in millions of dollars for charitable organizations.

In order to ensure the financial aspects of your event aren’t overshadowed by the team camaraderie, give out awards for the top fundraisers and donors.

Check out these sure fire strategies for highlight award winners and creating competitive excitement:

  • Before your Dance Marathon, post a leaderboard in your P2P homepage highlighting the top fundraisers (both individuals and teams).
  • If you have mega-donors, identify them early on and invite them to your Dance Marathon as honored guests.
  • During the awards part of the event, bring these people on stage to thank them for their support and generosity.

Social Incentives for Donations

To help participants bring in smaller donations from friends and family, lean in to the social media-focus of P2P fundraising and take advantage of networks!

Your participants can post messages to incentivize their own networks to donate to their fundraising pages:

  • “For every $100 I raise, I’ll post an embarrassing school photo”
  • “I get a 5-minute nap for every $1000 total raised”
  • “I’ll personally match any donations that I receive in the next 10 minutes!”

Live Appeals During the Dance Marathon

Live appeals are one of the best kept secrets of fundraising events for good reason. They’re the perfect way to bring in last-minute donations to push your event towards and over your fundraising goal.

Plus, because Dance Marathons are so energetic, the exciting atmosphere is the perfect place for spur-of-the-moment gives.

Be sure to incorporate these quick tips for orchestrating a live appeal during your Dance Marathon:

  • Make sure your live appeal is highlighted in your program and schedule.
  • Try to secure a match donation to help drive proceeds.
  • Have a live-stream on your online fundraising site so people can log in to watch the festivities, to attract those who cannot attend.
  • Have your social media team consistently post on our social channels with live testimonial videos from any beneficiaries or supporters at the event.

Then, at the very end of your event, announce to your dancers (and live stream on your website and social channels) how much you raised!

Time to Get Started

It’s all about having the right plan, the right tools, and the right people behind your cause to move things forward. Now it’s time to get the creative juices flowing and get planning your Dance Marathon!

Make sure you’re using robust peer-to-peer fundraising software that supports these strategies and allows for complete customization of your Dance Marathon! Learn more about social fundraising for runs, walks, and rides with our downloadable guide.