Written By: Kendall McCreary, Executive Director, Aztec Dance Marathon at San Diego State University
Miracle Weeks have the potential to be game changers for Dance Marathon programs. In our first Miracle Week, we raised over $25,000 total and registered over 1,200 dancers. The initial steps of planning seemed overwhelming, so we decided to take the week day by day.
We broke up our week into 5 categories: Inspiration, Recruitment, Education, Fundraising, and Appreciation. There needs to be a common message throughout the week, but still have daily themes that are distinct enough that they earn their own day.
The week began on Monday with Inspiration Day. We didn’t want to overwhelm students on the first day, so we didn’t ask for anything. We didn’t encourage anyone to register, and we didn’t ask for any donations, we simply let people know about Rady Children’s Hospital and Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. This day was intended to Inspire the students at San Diego State to care about our local children’s hospital without asking anything in return. With the permission of the school, we lined our main walkway with CMN Hospital Balloons and ran an information stand at the end of the walkway with gold ribbons, ADM merchandise and treats to give away, and simply answered questions for the duration of our tabling.
Today marks the start of our week-long campaign known as Miracle Week! The theme today is Inspiration, and we will be on campus handing out Gold ribbons to raise awareness for Childhood Illness. Aztec Dance Marathon benefits our local Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego, which serves over 619,000 kids each year, ensuring special care and love is spent on each child! All throughout this week we're going to be talking about the reasons why Aztec Dance Marathon is so special with a few surprises along the way. ARE YOU EXCITED YET!? #FTK
The next day was huge–our Registration Day. We gave out a special discount code for 75% off our registration fee, which dropped it to $5. The success of the day can largely be contributed to Facebook! We required board members to post the link to register on three individuals walls and include the discount code. Pretty soon dancers who had already signed up were posting on other peoples pages as well, and it blew up everyone’s Facebook news feed. We also posted instructions on our Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for how to register. We went from 100 dancers registered to over 1200 dancers registered by the end of the day. We also had 6 different booths in various places on campus where people could register in person, all equipped with “I Registered” stickers and donuts to give away.
Education Day was a little more laid back. We held an event in our Student Union from 11pm-1pm, answering questions and giving away merchandise to anyone who was interested. The goal of the day was different than Inspiration, in that instead of educating about Rady Childrens, we were educating about the students’ role in Aztec Dance Marathon and what they could do to make a difference on campus.
Today's Miracle Week theme is education! So what is Aztec Dance Marathon? ADM is a nation wide student-led philanthropic movement raising money for our local @dancemarathon.This February 24th-25th we will be hosting a 15- hour dance marathon in Montezuma Hall, with a goal of raising $101,000 towards @radychildrens. YOUR ROLE is to play your part in making a difference in children's lives. Through individual and team fundraising, we will all work together to reach our goal and celebrate the final result during the official even in February. #FTK
Our Fundraising Day was another day that was very heavily influenced by social media. Since we can’t technically accept donations on campus, we cut back on tabling that day and went all out online and through email. The morning of Fundraising Day, we sent out 3 different emails: one to all the dancers, one to all the team captains, and one to all the presidents of organizations that had registered teams. In the emails, we included a “thank you” for registering, “how to” instructions for posting their fundraising link on Facebook, and a template for asking for donations via email. These tools empowered the new dancers to post their links and reach out to friends and family, and in one day we ended up raising over $13,000. We also encouraged board members to post their fundraising link on family members or friends’ Facebook walls to boost their fundraising even more, as well as post a “Thank you” post tagging the donor as well as posting their link again every time they received a donation that day. From our main page, we had a thermometer with the $5000 goal at the top, and updated it every $1000. People followed along all day, and the last photo of the final thermometer reached over 5,000 people.
The last day was extremely relaxed and fun, and was held in our student union. The theme of the day was Appreciation. Kind Bar came and passed out flowers and granola bar samples, we hosted a free henna artist, and gave out Merchandise and pizza to the anyone who attended. The day was meant to be a fun day for dancers to come out and appreciate all the miracles we had made that week, as well as be a fun day for the board to hang out and unwind as well. Push days for fundraising and registration are definitely important, but so is the power of “Thank You”. We allowed up a few days later with our recap video, which was exciting to new dancers and board members to see themselves featured on our Facebook page.
Taking Miracle Week day by day helped us organize, plan, prepare, and execute each day intentionally. Make sure to focus on each days message and meaning, don’t ask for money on Recruitment day, and don’t ask people to register on Fundraising day. Although it may seem terrifying to wait until the 4th day of a push week to ask for fundraising, in the days leading up to our fundraising day we raised $8,000 without even asking. Giving the new dancers a chance to fundraise before asking them too empowers them and gives them a chance to show us what they can do before even being asked!
Good luck planning your own Miracle Week!