The Show Must Go On: Choreographing Your Next Fundraiser



Dance communicates, using the human body to express ideas and emotions, in a way no other art form can. Beautiful, inspirational and entertaining, its presentation on stage is a joy to behold-which is why dancers, directors, assistant directors, parents and boosters are willing to put so much work into a production. And what a lot of work it is, on and off stage.

For all the blood, sweat, and tears that go into running a dance group, the one that seems to cause the most consternation is raising money to keep the show going. There are tickets to print, equipment to buy or rent, rehearsal space, music, lights, costumes, travel and more.

Raise money smarter, not harder

With time constraints and budget needs always a priority, it’s important to focus on fundraising programs that produce proven results and won’t bankrupt your time or resources. That is why it is critical to find a fundraising program that doesn’t require the same long hours, has a track record of success, uses the power of online fundraising, and complements the healthy lifestyle that dancing promotes. A little research before you get started will save you countless hours of door-to-door selling and help you reach your goals.

The right routine for fundraising success

In a show choir routine, working together is key to success. The same goes for raising money. However, unlike song and dance, successful fundraising does not have to require a lot of hard work.if you choose the right product to sell and the right strategy.

Perhaps you have some creative ideas of your own to raise money, but if you have never run a fundraiser or your fundraising campaigns have gotten stale, it’s time to take a fresh look at your approach.

Here are some quick ideas and things to consider before you embark on your next-or first-fundraiser:

Product vs. Event Fundraisers

One of the main differences in fundraisers is whether you sell a product or put on an event. Often an event can achieve great interest and good results in the first year, despite the time and up-front cost to put it on. But fatigue-for both volunteers and supporters-can easily set in after the initial excitement. Product fundraisers usually have the advantage of a selling system already in place with little or no upfront commitment.

The Unhealthy Food Debate

There was a time when nearly everyone was eager to chip into a cause by buying cookies and other non-nutritious items. With the emphasis now on health and fitness, especially for dancers, unhealthy food is sometimes a tough sell. So maybe it’s time to just say “no” to that tub of cookie dough and other traditional fare that’s sold for fundraisers-for the sake of your supporters and the success of your fundraising.

On-Line vs. Catalog Sales

Forget the debate, you’ll have more success with a combination of catalog and on-line sales. Catalogs are a great tool for selling in person, while on-line sales broaden the reach of your fundraiser immensely. Successful fundraisers make use of both these important tools.

Set a Fundraising Goal

It may seem like an obvious piece of advice, but setting goals for how much money you want to raise and what that money will fund will dramatically increase your success. Are you raising money for something specific like costumes or a guest choreographer? Or perhaps you need to finance your group’s trip to a competition? Let your supporters know the details. And your whole team should be aware of how much money you’re trying to raise. Everyone performs better with a specific goal in mind.

Sell the right product at the right price

People are tired of supporting fundraisers that offer products that are over-priced and that they can purchase at a local retail outlet for much less. When you offer high-quality, value priced, branded products that are backed by a name that is trusted, your supporters will be more eager to buy.

Dance your way to big profits

Just looking at percentage of profits is a narrow-minded approach. You might receive 90% profit on a $1 item, but have to sell dozens and dozens to creep toward your goal. Or, by earning $10 on the sale of one larger ticket item, you’d only have to sell 10 to reach $100 profit. At first glance it may seem easier to sell low-priced products, but the quantity needed to reach your goal can be exhausting for everyone.

Let the website do the heavy lifting

One of the easiest ways to raise money is through a website your supporters can order from no matter where they live. The larger, well-run fundraising companies already have websites in place, ready for you to use in your fundraising. Your supporters, whether they live next door or across the country, can order directly and easily from the website and the profits go straight to you.

Get your show choir season off to a great start with a fundraiser that’s easy, profitable, and offers products your supporters love to buy. That way you and your group can concentrate your talents on putting together a dance production that will draw raves.

About the Author
John O'Neil is director of Yankee Candle Fundraising, which last year helped raise over $28 million for more than 19,000 fundraising groups, including show choir groups. Learn more at