I love giving useful advice to those interested in the art of dance.
Dance teams are one of many school activities whose budget is being reduced, if they even receive assistance from the school at all. As anyone who is familiar with dance team knows, uniforms, camp, and shoes, are pricey. Most schools have no extra money in the budget for such things and leave the teams to their own devices.
The parents of a dance team member know the expense and would, in most cases, prefer not to foot the bill themselves. The alternatives require a commitment not only from the students, but the parents and coaches as well.
When faced with the challenge of fundraising, it is difficult to come up with new ideas. Supporters who are always bombarded with candy or pizza sales, they become less likely to continue their support financially. In return for their contribution, people want something tangible that they will use, rather than filling their cupboards and fridge with things they do not need. This means coming up with inventive, new ideas for fundraising.
Where Do I Start?
Often the most daunting task is figuring out where to begin. Here are some tips to get you started:
- Write a list of ideas.
- Get ideas from the students and parents.
- Find out from the school what has been successful in the past.
- Find out what fundraisers are being run by other groups, so as not to duplicate them.
- Get to know the area: What is missing? What could your team offer the community?
- Make a list of local businesses that could be of assistance and contact them for help.
Getting to know your community is crucial to a successful fundraiser. If you are offering something that will benefit the community, there will be much more chance of success and support.
Dance Fundraiser Ideas
There are so many fundraising ideas available. Here are some possible ideas specific for dance teams. There are tips below for how to implement and make these ideas successful for your team.
- Cheesecake sales (through a company)
- Butterbraid sales (through a company)
- Car washes
- Bagging Groceries
- Serving at a restaurant for an evening
- Rummage Sale
- Mini Camp
Setting Up a Fundraiser With a Company
The key to sales is finding a reputable company with which to work. Be sure to inquire about pricing as well as what percentage of the profits will go towards your team.
Here's an example of how much profit a team can make from a cheesecake sale:
- Customer pays $20
- Team makes $8 per cake
- Team sells 70 cheesecakes at $20 apiece.
- The total collected is $1,400.
- The team will have a profit of $560 and cut to a check the company for $840
Check with the school that the company you want to work with is an acceptable company with which to do business. Know whom checks will be made out to and how to deposit the profit into the teams' funds.
Two examples that have proved successful in the past are cheesecakes and Butterbraids. To get started, go to the company's website and get their contact information.
- Set a date with the company by which they will send the information and order forms
- Set a stop-sell date with the company
- Write down the day that the orders must be called into the company
- Set a delivery date
- Get payment information from the company and convey to the school
Occasionally companies will send a sample or two for the team to try so they are familiar with the product. Have the team try it at practice and voice their opinions.
Brainstorm ideas with the team of whom they should ask to contribute, and role-play how they should ask in a non-offensive way. Make sure they understand the importance of thanking their supporters.
Once the order forms are in and before the team takes home the forms, go over with the team how to fill them out prior to them. Write all of the important dates on the forms, if the company has not done this already: the selling start date, the end date, and the date forms need to be returned. Team members need to understand the importance of collecting the money at that time. Order forms turned in without an accompanying payment will not result in an order. Tell team members who the customers should make the check out to, and tell them they need to keep the payments with the order so they do not double charge.
Inevitably, the date to return the form will arrive, and someone will have left the form or the payments or both at home. To avoid any issue with ordering, give team members a stop date three days before the order date. For example, if the company needs the order by January 24, tell the members they need to have everything in by January 21. This will give the person placing the order two days' grace and less stress.
Have the members be clear on the pick-up date and time. They need to know how to care for the sale items (if they need to be refrigerated, etc) and they need to have made arrangements to accommodate this care.
As the coach, be organized. Check, check, and double-check each individual member's form with their payment. Then add everything all together and check, check, triple check the final order and payment.
Once the order and pick up are complete, the coach should take the invoice to the accountant to cut a check for the company's part of the order. Be prompt to ensure the company they will be willing to do business with your team in the future.
- Give adequate time to sell (usually 4–6 weeks).
- Be sure the team members are knowledgeable about the product and the pricing.
- Sell around a holiday (cheesecakes are great before Thanksgiving because customers can buy for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years).
- Sell when other organizations are not selling. This is difficult but doable.
- Begin selling within the first few weeks of auditions.
- Space fundraisers out so members and their customers don't burn out.
- Encourage members to go to different friends and relatives for each fundraiser.
- Be sure the coach knows the school's fundraiser policies as well as its deposit policies.
Car washes have always been a popular fundraiser. To make a profit, be aware of when other organizations might do the same fundraiser. Summer is a great time, but others will think so too. Weekends are best because people tend to be out and about during the day.
Have all hands on deck for the car wash. Designate each person to bring an item (soap, towels, etc.) You'll need many large towels and several scrubbers. Make sure there is somewhere to hang the towels to allow them to dry, as putting them on the ground leaves a chance for a stone to collect in the fibers and scratch a vehicle.
There are many good venues for a car wash. Somewhere with a lot of traffic is a must. The facility needs to have a hose and a space for cars that will be out of the way of normal business traffic.
Be well-advertised. Social media is a great way to get the word out that your team is doing a car wash. Have the team make signs and stand where they can be seen from the road.
A common concern is what do we charge for a car wash? A donation bucket works best. This way people can give as they feel like giving, and it will encourage the team to do an exemplary job.
One or two grocery stores still provide this fundraising opportunity for school teams. The company allows the team to bag groceries for a set amount of time and take a small part of the earnings.
Serving at a Restaurant
This idea is similar to bagging groceries. Some restaurants offer a small share of the company's profit (usually 5–10%) in return for assistance serving and helping in the restaurant. Be sure to pick a restaurant that is well known and set your time during rush hour.
Rummage sales can be hit-or-miss. There are several keys that will help make them successful.
- Pick a well-traveled spot. The more visible the spot, the more traffic.
- Advertise (social media,PSA, etc).
- Have everyone contribute.
- Make sure items are in good condition (don't sell trash).
Begin by picking a venue at which to host the sale a well-trafficked area like a popular subdivision or school parking lot. Don't make the customers search for your sale.
Have each team member donate items. Specify that these items need to be in excellent condition. The better they are, the better they will sell. Have enough tables and space to display all the items.
Price accordingly. Yes, it is a rummage sale, but it is also a fundraiser. There are several ways to price:
- Individual items
- Table pricing
- Price by type of item
- Box pricing
- A mix of all of these
Pricing individual items is very time-consuming and often confusing for customers. For large, unique items like bikes and TVs, you will have to do individual pricing, but for other items, the simpler the pricing the better.
Pricing by table is also an option. Everything on that table would be the price marked on the sign. This way is good, but does cause the tables to look a little cluttered.
Pricing by type of item is great for clothes, books, movies, and games. For example, any adult shirt is the same price; any child's pair of jeans is the same price.
Box pricing is exactly as it sounds. Everything in the box is the price on the box. This is great if you have a lot of the same item, or if there is an abundance of miscellaneous items.If at the end of the sale there are many items left, this is a great way to sell them and get draw a few more people to the sale.
Mixing all of these tends to be best, especially with multiple persons contributing.
Make sure you have change for the customers. Try to keep prices as round numbers so it is easy to calculate quickly and determine change. Have some plastic bags available in case someone purchases multiple items that are difficult to carry.
This is one of my personal favorites. It gets the entire community involved, teaches great lessons, and gets the dance team involved in supporting other teams at the school.
The most basic mini-camp is a day camp where children in the community can come and learn a dance from the dance team. They get to perform their dances at a varsity football or basketball game.
For signing up, the child gets:
- to learn a dance routine
- to perform at a varsity game
- a snack
- a set of pompoms
- a T-shirt
A mini-camp can be held on one or two days that the school has off. Before starting anything, clear all your dates with the school to be sure they will be reserved and that there will be adequate space available.
Make a budget of what it will cost per child for their snack, pompoms, and T-shirt. Ordering in bulk usually reduces the cost of the snacks and pompoms. Only order as many T-shirts as needed, but order a couple extra for those who sign up on the day.
Example of cost and profit:
- T-shirt $8 (on the high end)
- Snack $1 (lemonade and animal crackers are a great way to go)
- Pompoms $2 per set
Total of $20 with $9 profit per child
With 40 in attendance, the total collected is $800; the total cost is $440; the total profit is $360.
Begin to advertise in the community. Sending forms home with all school-age children is a great start. Put forms in local businesses and community boards. Have the staff send e-mails to get permission from other schools for team members to leave fliers or distribute forms.
Pick a theme. Some ideas are:
- Dancing through the Decades
- Beach Fun
- Music Genres
It is usually best to split the children into groups of four within their age group. Age groups can be as follows:
- 1st grade
- 2nd grade
- 3rd grade
- 4th and 5th grade
You may need to shift the groups depending on how many sign up for each age group.
Assign team members to a grade. Each group will get a song that fits the theme and is cut down to around 1 to 1½ minutes. The team members will choreograph a dance for each age for beginners that is approved by the coach.
As forms come in with payment and information, make an Excel sheet with all the children's information in alphabetical order. Make a check-in sheet off of the master list, and divide it in half to keep the arrival line moving.
On the day of camp, arrive early for set up. Be sure each group has a CD player to play their music for practice. As the children arrive, have the team interact with them by playing games:
- We're Going to Kentucky
- Little Sally Walker
- Peel Banana
- Duck duck goose
Check them off the list, be sure they have paid, and give their T-shirt to their parent.
Have the team introduce themselves to the girls then have them lead a group warm-up. They will break up into their four groups. Each group has an assigned snack time when they will take a break and eat a snack.
Upon completing the dance, bring all the groups together and talk about performance etiquette. Have the team perform their dance, also going with the theme, and have a few be correct and the others making many mistakes. Have the children raise their hands and say both the positive and negative things to recognize what is and is not appropriate when dancing at the game.
Have a rehearsal with parents viewing, to get the children in front of an audience before they are at the game. The dance team members will perform with them. After this rehearsal, have a parent meeting. Cover how things like the game will work, where they should drop off/pick up their child, what the child should wear, and what time to arrive.
On the day of the game, make sure each child gets checked in. Once they are checked in, they stay with their dance team member in their group. It is a good idea to have them do a warm up and practice as well.
If the dance team does side lines (dancing on the track during the first half) have simple side lines for the children to do with the team. After practice, hand out the pompoms.
When it is time to perform, line the children up in their groups in the order they will perform. Because it will be during half time, it is important to transition between groups very quickly. Once each group has performed and it is time for the dance team to dance, have the kids sit on the track and watch. Then collect them and return them to their parents. Check them out just as they were checked in to be sure every child has been accounted for.
Though this is a large undertaking, it is very much worth it. It opens the community to dance, it puts the dance team's name out, it gets the community involved, and it gives children positive role models.
Mini-Camp Planning in a Nutshell
- Set dates
- Reserve space
- Budget per child
- Make order form
- Keep a detailed record of forms and payments
- Choose a theme
- Choose songs
- Assign team members to choreography groups
- Approve choreography
- Set up
- Sign in
- Learn choreography, serve snack
- Show parents
- Parent informational meeting
- Check in at game
- Distribute pompoms
- Side lines
- Children perform
- Dance team performs
- Check out children to parents
What to Put on the Sign-Up Form
- Child's name
- Parent name
- Parent address and contact information
- Emergency contact
- T-shirt size
- Payment type
- Grade in school
Thank you for reading. I hope these ideas will benefit dance team fundraising to keep dance teams in schools. Please comment with any other ideas that you have or have tried that were successful or maybe even not so successful. I appreciate the feedback and hearing new ideas!
Let's Hear From You!
For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.
- What is a fundraiser that involves the community?
- Mini Camp
- Bagging Groceries
- Rummage Sale
- Why is it important to involve the community?
- To advertise for your dance team
- To teach the children of the community
- To gain community support
- All of the above
- What is a good selling tip?
- Always asking family
- Remembering to thank the supporter
- Knocking on doors in the neighborhood
- Knowing very little about the product
- Mini Camp
- All of the above
- Remembering to thank the supporter
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.