Though the actual dance marathon is one of the most notable parts of Rutgers University Dance Marathon (RUDM), months of planning and fundraising went into the event beforehand.
Karishma Patel, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, said the fundraising process began early in the Fall 2018 semester, when students who signed up to be dancers would be required to reach a minimum amount of $350. If they did not reach this minimum, they would not be eligible to be a dancer at the event, but could still be a volunteer or guest.
In order to incentivize people to donate and give opportunities for students to raise money, Patel said that during the year there would be canning events and punch cards on social media, which was recently created as a fundraising initiative. These punch cards would typically be found on Instagram stories or Facebook.
“We found that a lot of other marathons were using different social media ways to get involved,” Patel said.
As a result, the marketing team at RUDM helped to create these punch cards, which would include different dollar amounts that people could choose to donate so that their names would be put on the bingo board.
Maxilia Desir, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, and Vivien Lin, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, are dancers that are part of the multicultural sorority Kappa Phi Lambda that used social media to help fundraise for the cause.
“Facebook was really helpful,” Lin said.
Desir also cited the importance of her sorority network, which included more than 3,000 members.
“If you have a network, it’s not that hard to fundraise the money,” Desir said. “We tapped into the community and got a lot out of it.”
As for canning, another fundraising initiative was asking dancers to go outside of storefronts such as the grocery stores Stop and Shop and QuickChek to ask for donations. Patel said that canning also raised a significant amount of money before the marathon, with the most recent one earning more than $18,000.
RUDM has also grown over the past few years. This year there were more than 1,800 dancers, which is 100 more than last year’s, Patel said.
Danielle Raabe, a Rutgers alumna who has previously been director of dance relations for RUDM, said a major change that occurred was when the marathon moved from the College Avenue Gym to the Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC) in 2014. Two years later in 2016 was when the event shifted to two different sessions to accommodate for the increasing numbers of dancers.
“This completely transformed our event by increasing student participation and motivation, and it really proved that it's not how long you stand, it's what you're standing for,” Raabe said.