How to Make Dancing with the Stars a Fundraising Hit
WRITTEN BY COREY BLAKE
Competitions are a fun and engaging way to get motivated people to help your organization by spreading awareness and raising money. Hosting your own local Dancing with the Stars is a unique way to get your supporters involved.
Based on the popular and long-running ABC competition show, Dancing with the Stars fundraisers get people in your community involved by pulling in their personal network of family, friends and colleagues to vote for them in the competition. Votes can be made by donating, so the more votes each dancer gets, the more money that is raised for your organization. This has the added bonus of increasing awareness about your organization in the community and bringing in new donors that you can cultivate for future support.
In recruiting dancers, you’ll want to find your local celebrities, people in your community who are passionate about your mission, relatively well known, and have a network that will support them. Determining the winner can be done strictly based on the most votes by donation, and can also include a panel of judges who determine a winner as well. This would give your dancers two categories to strive for: Judge’s Choice and People’s Choice.
Above and beyond the logistics of running the competition, your Dancing with the Stars fundraiser can include online and mobile components to ensure you get the most out of the event.
1. Give Your Dancers an Online Stage
While the actual competition happens on only one night, your organization and dancers are planning and preparing for weeks and even months before the big night. You want to make sure everyone spreads the word about the competition and how they can participate. To get people excited about your Dancing with the Stars, create a campaign landing page that promotes the event, your dancers, and your organization’s mission.
This mobile-friendly page should provide the time and date of the event, as well as other logistics, but more importantly it should get across the personality of the event and how getting involved will make a difference. We also recommend including the option to make a donation to your organization before the event.
This campaign landing page can also include a video to really get across the excitement. This can be embedded on your event page. For example, create a music video that features all the participants dancing to a song.
To make the most of your dancers and their network of connections, give each dancer or dancing pair their own landing page and a unique keyword connected to your campaign. On these pages, you can share the dancer bios as well as each dancer’s personal reasons for getting involved. What is it about your organization, your mission and the work you do that personally speak to each dancer and motivates them to win the competition? These don’t have to be long, but they should be personal and from the heart, as that is ultimately what will motivate people who visit to get involved.
2. Sell tickets and sponsorships online
With a landing page for your Dancing with the Stars event, it’s only natural to give people the option to buy tickets online as well. Your online home should link to an easy and mobile-friendly ticketing form.
You can also amp up the competition by having each dancer’s page link to a ticketing page, and have ticket sales count toward votes. This increases the incentive for dancers to pack the house with people more likely to vote for them and gives them a headstart on votes before the music starts.
You can also invite organizations to help sponsor the event. Securing local businesses to help with the cost of the event means that donations from voting go toward your mission instead of toward renting the venue.
3. Maximize Fundraising with Your Dancers
Along with ticket sales, you can also allow your dancers to receive votes early. An online donation form configured for voting will let your dancers get a jump on the competition. Each dancer page can have a progress bar and a total amount displayed to show their progress.
This really maximizes the potential of the event by minimizing the chances of leaving money on the table. Your organization and dancers still get to benefit from those who can’t attend the event. It also helps amp up the competition early. Dancers will be watching each others’ pages to see how they’re doing in relation to everyone else, and that will encourage them to reach out their network more.
4. Simplify Voting with Text to Vote
During the big night, you’ll want to make it easy as possible for people to vote for their favorite dancers. Using text-to-vote makes for a fun way for attendees to help.
After each dancer or dancer pair performs, have the host come out to congratulate them on a job well done and get feedback from the judges (if you have judges). Then, the host can let the audience that if they’d like to vote, to text a keyword to a shortcode number. For example, “If you want Ron to win, text DWTS1 to 71777” or “To vote for Jason and Stacey, text STAR1 to 91999”. Have each keyword similar but with a different number at the end, ideally in the order that they’re performing, to create familiarity and reinforce branding. When voters text in, they’ll get a response with a link they can click to land on an online donation form configured to accept donations that will count as votes. We recommend making 1 vote equal $1 to make it easy for voters to calculate how they want to support their favorite dancer.
5. Send a Thank You Video with the Winner(s) via Text
Once the dancing and voting is done, the fun doesn’t have to stop. Everyone who texted in to vote is now opted in to your organization and you should celebrate the results with them. Following the events, you can keep them engaged by sending them content about the difference their gifts have made. You can make a short thank you video with the winning dancer or dancer pair, and send a link to that video by text a day or two after the event. Before, during and after the event, you should find ways to connect voting with your mission and the results your organization produces. Voters should not only feel good about how their favorite dancer did that night, but also that it was all in support of a wonderful cause.
However you run your Dancing with the Stars competition, be sure to have fun and use it as a celebration of your organization and the people that support you and benefit from your work. Whether people are able to get involved in person, on their phone, or online, everyone should feel like they’re celebrating together.
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