Classy - Allison Guass-avatar1
Allison Gauss
3 min
Northwestern University Dance Marathon

How a Student Dance Marathon Raised $1.2 Million

As the makers of a fundraising platform that helps nonprofit organizations bring their donation process into the 21st century, Classy knows the importance of staying on top of the latest technology and best practices. But we also know that tradition and an ingrained culture of giving can hold tremendous value. Northwestern University Dance Marathon (NUDM) combined these strengths to become one of the largest and longest-standing, student-run philanthropy organizations in the country.

Since 1975, NUDM has challenged students at Northwestern to raise money for charitable causes and last through a 30-hour dance marathon each spring. This will be their 43rd year putting on the event. Since NUDM is student-run, though, a new leadership team takes the helm each year. But with a platform that makes it easy to create and edit campaigns, manage teams, and appeal to donors, the organization has consistently grown their results over the past few years. NUDM raised more than $1.2 million in 2016, and with their smart recruitment and engagement strategy, they could top that in 2017.

A Peer-to-Peer Powerhouse

Although NUDM has always relied on dancers to appeal to their friends and family, the tech-savvy students have adapted their fundraising to an online peer-to-peer model. For the 2016 event, they used Classy’s Registration with Fundraising campaign to track event participants and get their fundraising pages up in record time.

Using the Registration with Fundraising campaign allowed us to focus less on getting pages set up, collecting fees, and things like that, and focus more on actually getting people to want to participate.

Nate Korn
finance co-chair at NUDM

This organization excels at engaging fundraisers and giving them the tools to succeed. To help dancers get the donations rolling in, NUDM created and distributed a fundraising guide for participants.

Their use of team fundraising also allows NUDM to provide support to their many dancers. The organization’s leadership stays in contact with team captains and updates them on fundraising opportunities and tips for their teams. Many fraternities, clubs, and other groups choose a captain and field a fundraising team each year. This creates an infectious atmosphere of comradery (and healthy competition!).

NUDM Marries Tradition and Technology

NUDM has been hugely successful in maintaining this beloved campus event. The music that students danced to in 2016 may be very different from the music played at the inaugural 1975 event, but the spirit remains the same: dancers come together to benefit a good cause.

The way NUDM fundraises has also changed over the years. The Classy platform and features like team fundraising and Registration with Fundraising allow this student-run organization to mobilize the next generation of philanthropists and fundraisers.

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