A dance competition here, recital costumes there—all the extras add up. Fundraisers are a great way to defray costs, but coming up with fresh ideas (not another car wash!) can be a daunting task. So we’ve done the legwork for you—whether you want to earn money for your dance team, student scholarships or a charity, these fundraisers can help you keep the cash flowing all year long.

January:

A new year means that many businesses have a renewed budget for donations. This is the time to ask for a sponsorship. Approach businesses with suggested levels of support, and reward those who sponsor with logos printed on T-shirts, a plaque or a framed picture of the dance team.

“They may be able to sponsor just one girl,” says Elizabeth Fujimoto, owner of Maricopa Dance Academy in Maricopa, Arizona, “but any help is greatly appreciated.”

Don’t forget to thank your benefactors with a letter signed by you or the dancer being sponsored, and keep businesses updated on studio and team achievements.

February:

Show the community your moves with a dance revue combined with a sit-down dinner. Negotiate discounted catering fees and charge by the plate—a steal considering your guests will be entertained while they eat.

With enough planning, you can solicit donations from local vendors and hold a silent auction that starts an hour before dinner and lasts throughout the evening. Attendees will go home entertained and satisfied, knowing they’ve supported a good cause.

March:

Senior centers are always on the lookout for performance groups to entertain retirees. Because they want to present a variety of programming, these centers may allow your studio to visit only once a year. The good news, however, is that groups that perform often receive a hefty donation in exchange for their services, says Victoria Blevins, owner of

Victoria’s School of Dance in Riverview, Florida.

April:

Throw a dance party for your students, and give your studio parents the night off. Ask your instructors to chaperone, buy a dozen pizzas and charge $5 a ticket. Then dance the night away!

May:

Get in the spirit of spring cleaning by hosting a community garage sale. Sell studio, parking lot or donated space to anyone interested in selling items. In addition to earning “rental” money, you can set up a jar for donations.

Community sales tend to draw more traffic than individual sales, and therefore benefit everyone involved. When Blevins organized one, she noted that “some people were so happy to get rid of stuff, they just gave us a big donation.”

June:

“Over the years we’ve found that fundraising works best if you sell something your customers want and need anyway,” says Kathy Blake, director of Kathy Blake Dance Studios in Amherst, New Hampshire. This is why her school focuses all of its fundraising efforts on its four dance recital days by selling flowers, snack packs, water and baked goods.

Blake sells one rose for $5 and three for $10, bringing in up to $5,000 in just a few days. “We sell thousands of roses,” she says. Nut-free snack packs are pre-ordered and pre-made for less than $1, then sold for $5. Blake draws extra funding with bake-sale items and bottled water.

July:

Some mainstream retailers offer community groups the opportunity to run a hamburger or hot dog stand outside their stores. You can solicit food donations from local grocery stores, then ask friends, family and anyone who walks by to support your school.

“It’s a great hands-on experience because our dancers actually get to see that they’re earning money,” says Desiree Harper, owner of Desiree’s Dance Studio in North Branch, Minnesota. “It also gives girls on the same team an opportunity to get to know each other outside of class.”

August:

Count on your studio dads—and any avid golfers—to help out with a golf scramble. Negotiate discounted greens fees with a local club, and charge your participants 25 to 50 percent more. Offer donated prizes or gift cards to the top golfers of the day, and sell donated or discounted snacks and drinks to round out this profitable day on the course.

September:

With the holidays on the horizon, September is a good time for door-to-door sales. From candles and candy to wrapping paper and wreaths, these fundraisers require a little extra legwork on the part of your dancers, but individual pay-offs can be great. Some door-to-door companies have also added an internet component to their catalog sales, allowing dancers to reach even more people.

“We’ve had a lot of kids say they have out-of-state grandparents who wanted to buy something from them,” Fujimoto says. “These fundraisers allow people to help out by ordering online.” Make sure all ordered items will arrive and be delivered prior to December.

October:

For people looking for that special handcrafted item for the holiday season, consider holding a craft sale with local artisans. Like the community garage sale, rent out space for those interested in selling anything with a handmade touch—jewelry, pottery, quilted items and even food. Use free advertising space in local publications to invite the entire community to the event. Again, set out a jar for those interested in donating to your cause.

November:

Raise money with a raffle for something everyone needs at Thanksgiving—a turkey. Ask a local grocery store to donate a bird, and sell tickets for $1. With a huge margin of profit and a great gift for the winner, this holiday fundraiser can also be reworked with a ham at Easter or a barbecue package for Memorial or Labor Day.

December:

Again, take advantage of the holiday season by providing a service to frazzled shoppers. Get permission from a local mall or department store to set up a booth and wrap presents. Ask your dancers to donate wrapping paper, tape and their time. You can either set a flat fee for your services and leave a jar out for tips, or simply ask for donations. DT

JoAnna Haugen is a Las Vegas–based freelance writer who danced her way through childhood with classes in modern, tap and jazz.

Illustration by Emily Giacalone

Dance Teachers Trending
Roshe (center) teaching at Steps on Broadway in New York City. Photo by Jacob Hiss, courtesy of Roshe

Although Debbie Roshe's class doesn't demand perfect technique or mastering complicated tricks, her intricate musicality is what really challenges students. "Holding weird counts to obscure music is harder," she says of her Fosse-influenced jazz style, "but it's more interesting."

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by Dean College
Amanda Donahue, ATC, working with a student in her clinic in the Palladino School of Dance at Dean College. Courtesy Dean College

The Joan Phelps Palladino School of Dance at Dean College is one of just 10 college programs in the U.S. with a full-time athletic trainer devoted solely to its dancers. But what makes the school even more unique is that certified athletic trainer Amanda Donahue isn't just available to the students for appointments and backstage coverage—she's in the studio with them and collaborating with dance faculty to prevent injuries and build stronger dancers.

"Gone are the days when people would say, 'Don't go to the gym, you'll bulk up,'" says Kristina Berger, who teaches Horton and Hawkins technique as an assistant professor of dance. "We understand now that cross-training is actually vital, and how we've embraced that at Dean is extremely rare. For one thing, we're not sharing an athletic trainer with the football players, who require a totally different skillset." For another, she says, the faculty and Donahue are focused on giving students tools to prolong their careers.

After six years of this approach, here are the benefits they've seen:

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Thinkstock

Since the dawn of time, performers have had to deal with annoying, constant blisters. As every dance teacher knows (and every student is sure to find out), blisters are a fact of life, and we all need to figure out a plan of action for how to deal with them.

Instead of bleeding through pointe shoes and begging you to let them sit out, your students should know these tricks for how to prevent/deal with their skin when it starts to sting.

You're welcome!

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by Alternative Balance
Courtesy Alternative Balance

As a dance teacher, you know more than anyone that things can go wrong—students blank on choreography onstage, costumes don't fit and dancers quit the competition team unexpectedly. Why not apply that same mindset to your status as an independent contractor at a studio or as a studio owner?

Insurance is there to give you peace of mind, even when the unexpected happens. (Especially since attorney fees can be expensive, even when you've done nothing wrong as a teacher.) Taking a preemptive approach to your career—insuring yourself—can save you money, time and stress in the long run.

We talked to expert Miriam Ball of Alternative Balance Professional Group about five scenarios in which having insurance would be key.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teachers Trending
Photo by Brian Guilliaux, courtesy of Coudron

Eric Coudron understands firsthand the hurdles competition dancers face when falling in love with ballet. Now the director of ballet at Prodigy Dance and Performing Arts Centre in Frisco, Texas, Coudron trained as a competition dancer when he was growing up. "It's such a structured form of dance that when they come back to it after all of the other styles they are training in, they don't feel at home at the barre," he says.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teachers Trending
Kendra Portier. Photo by Scott Shaw, courtesy of Gibney Dance

As an artist in residence at the University of Maryland in College Park, Kendra Portier is in a unique position. After almost a decade of performing with David Dorfman Dance and three years earning her MFA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, she's using her two-year gig at UMD (through spring 2020) to "see how teaching in academia really feels," she says. It's also given her the rare opportunity to feel grounded. "I'm going to be here for two years," she says, which offers her the chance to figure out the answers to some hard questions. "What does it mean to not dance for somebody else?" she asks. "What does it mean to take my work more seriously? To realize I really like making work, and figuring out how that can happen in an academic place."

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by Turn It Up Dance Challenge
Courtesy Turn It Up

With back-to-back classes, early-morning stage calls and remembering to pack countless costume accessories, competition and convention weekends can feel like a whirlwind for even the most seasoned of studios. Take the advice of Turn It Up Dance Challenge master teachers Alex Wong and Maud Arnold and president Melissa Burns on how to make the experience feel meaningful and successful for your dancers:

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer Health
Deanna Paolantonio leads a workshop. Photo courtesy of Paolantonio

Deanna Paolantonio had been interested in body positivity long before diabetes ever crossed her mind. As a Zumba and Pilates instructor who had just earned her master's degree in dance studies, she focused her research on the relationship between fitness and body image for women and young girls. Then, at age 25, just as she was accepted into the PhD program at York University in Toronto, she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D).

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by The Studio Director

As a studio owner, you're probably pretty used to juggling. Running a business is demanding, with new questions and challenges pulling your attention in a million different directions each day.

But there's a solution that could be saving you time and money (and sanity!). Studio management systems are easy-to-use software programs designed for the particular needs of studio owners, offering tools like billing, enrollment, inventory and emails, all in one place. The right studio management system can help you handle the day-to-day tasks that bog you down as a business owner, leaving you more time for the most important work—like connecting with students and planning creative curriculums for them. Plus, these systems can keep you from spending extra money on hiring multiple specialists or using multiple platforms to meet your administrative needs.

So how do you make sure you're choosing a studio management system that offers the same quality that your studio does? We talked to The Studio Director—whose studio management system provides a whole host of streamlined features—about the must-haves for any system, and the bonuses that make an excellent product stand out:

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Robin Nasatir (center) with Peter Brown and Vicki Gunter. Photo by Christian Peacock

On a sunny Thursday morning in Berkeley, California, Robin Nasatir leads her modern class through a classic seated floor warm-up full of luscious curves and tilts to the soothing grooves of Bobby McFerrin. Though her modern style is rooted in traditional José Limón and Erick Hawkins techniques, the makeup of her class is far from conventional. Her students range in age from 30 all the way to early 80s.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Getty Images

Q: I need advice on proper classroom management for dancers in K–12—I can't get them to focus.

A: Classroom management in a K–12 setting is no different than in a studio. No matter where you teach, I recommend using a positive-reinforcement approach first. As a general rule, what you pay attention to is what you get. When a student acts out, it's generally done in order to gain attention. Rather than giving attention to them for inappropriate behavior, call out other students who are exhibiting the positive behaviors you desire. Name the good actions, and all of your students will quickly learn what it takes to be noticed.

Keep reading... Show less

mailbox

Get DanceTeacher in your inbox