The 2022 Dance Marathon aims to increase accessibility through organizational changes

Raginya Handoo, executive director of the University of Iowa Dance Marathon, and her team are promoting accessibility with new fee waiver initiatives, a free registration day and fundraising training.

Gabby Drees

Participants dance during the Dance Marathon at the Iowa Memorial Union at the University of Iowa in Iowa City on Saturday, February 5, 2022. The fundraiser was held virtually with a limited number of in-person participants.

Sitting across from the rush of students at Catlett Market Place at 1 p.m. on Oct. 31, representatives from the University of Iowa’s 2022 Dance Marathon organization held a booth to promote its first-ever day of free registration.

The organization has halved the fundraising minimum for attendees – which is required to attend the big event in February – from $500 to $250, in addition to cutting registration fees from $50 to $25. $,” said Raginya Handoo, executive director of the 2022 UI Dance Marathon.

Handoo has been involved with Dance Marathon at UI for five years and has taken on leadership roles throughout her time with the organization.

She was part of the team that led changes to the Unemployment Insurance organization this year.

“To start this year, we’ve made some really huge changes because we’re finding that even with recruiting and retention, asking someone to pay $50 upfront and then asking them to stay and raise $500 is a very big deterrent,” she said.

Among the representatives was UI senior Emily Jansen, who has been involved with Dance Marathon for four years.

“Usually it’s a half-price sign-up day, but this year we’re having a free sign-up day,” Jansen said. “Registration this year in general has been cut in half. Usually it’s $50. This year it’s $25. »

Although Dance Marathon is a national organization part of the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals with groups scattered across the United States, guidelines for planning, fundraising and entry fees are left to the discretion of each university group.

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Madeline Wilson, a second-year master’s student at UI who joined the organization in January, said that certain factors, such as the size of the university and city and the types of donors with which the group has links, may change the group’s mission, vision, fundraising goals, and registration fees.

“I will say we found a lot of different strategies that worked for us this year,” Wilson said. “So file, peer-to-peer, go to other organizations the students are part of, and encourage their friends to sign up.”

Wilson said she thinks being likeable and connecting with people has kept this year’s Dance Marathon participants on track with last year’s numbers.

Handoo agrees that this year’s group of around 200 management team members is on track in terms of last year’s numbers.

“If we look back at our completely in-person, like pre-COVID, our leadership team is about 300 people. I think last year we ran about 250 [people] maybe,” Handoo said.

In addition to asking people directly for money, Handoo said Dance Marathon uses other fundraising activities: community days with local businesses, arts commissions, and shifts where dancers go to their homes. different people and say they are fundraising.

The UI Dance Marathon management team has also introduced a fundraising match to ease the burden of fundraising.

“As a leadership team and directors, we acquire sponsorships, and so what we do with some of that sponsorship money is give it to some of our dancers in terms of matching hours,” Handoo said, “So if you collect $10 this hour, it’ll actually match and you actually get $20 this hour.

UI Dance Marathon isn’t alone in updating its program practices to be more accessible to students.

Grace Fangman, executive director of the Iowa State University Dance Marathon, said their program has also implemented initiatives in recent years to promote accessibility.

“We used to have a minimum donation requirement of $250 for miracle workers to be part of Dance Marathon,” Fangman said. “We changed two or three years ago. We lowered it to $100 and got rid of that requirement.

Fangman said now the $100 is set as a goal, and even those who don’t reach it are still allowed to go to the big event without any consequences.

“Before three years ago, it was if you didn’t reach your $250, they would charge you,” Fangman said. “They would charge your U-Bill. So either way, you’re still paying that $250.

ISU Dance Marathon still has a running fee of $35, but Fangman said ISU Dance Marathon has a fee waiver to get it.

“So it’s been implemented over the last three years, like doing it bit by bit, and we’ve seen great results, and most people end up raising over $100 anyway,” Fangman said.

The big event of the UI Dance Marathon will take place on February 3 and 4, 2023 at IMU.

Aubrey L. Morgan