12 Months of Fundraising

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

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