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Terp Thon at University of Maryland Receives National Dance Marathon Participant Communication Award

Terp Thon at the University of Maryland-College Park was recently awarded the Participant Communication award at the Miracle Network Dance Marathon Leadership Conference in July. The Participant Communication Award recognizes Dance Marathon programs that have been successful or shown significant growth in participant communication strategies, such as developing a year-long communication plan, utilizing a variety of communication methods, and educating participants about the cause.

Participant communication was one of Terp Thon’s main priorities for the 2018-2019 year. As the student leaders were creating their participant communication calendar, they made certain that the intention, segmentation, and method/channel of communication was the most effective in order to guarantee that their participants were receiving their messaging able to maximize their participant experience.


Terp Thon worked to ensure that every piece of communication they sent out had a purpose with a goal of what they wanted participants to do. For example, when they hosted their Dancer Appreciation Day, they sent out personalized emails to participants to thank them for their efforts and encourage them to come to a table in front of the Library to receive a special gift.

“We make a point to personalize every single form of communication we send out, even if it is an email to all dancers, to ensure that our dancers feel apart of the organization and not just a number or fundraising total inside of it,” said Victoria Fiore, Terp Thon’s Engagement Director.

Terp Thon only sent out communications that helped participants moved forward within the organization, encouraging them to come to an event or sending out fundraising resources.


Terp Thon’s made major efforts to segment their communication. They have transformed to the needs of their campus and understood that the participation pathway is not the same for all participants.

They created a communication calendar that designated the days that each segmented audience would receive certain messaging, including announcements, dancer appreciation shoutouts, meeting reminders, and encouragement, and which channels of communication they would receive that messaging through.

For example, on their Greek-specific push day, there was different communication pieces that went to ​participants in fraternities and sororities​ and ​non-Greek dancers.​ A non-Greek dancer would not necessarily need to hear about a Greek-specific push, but should hear about ways to either start or continue to fundraise with 18 days left until the Dance Marathon event.

A Greek member participant who has already fundraised likely needs less encouragement and more stewardship whereas a Greek-member participant who has not started fundraising would benefit from receiving messaging with fundraising tips and encouragement to start their efforts.

They even segmented further to send unique e-mails to registered chapter presidents, unregistered chapter presidents, chapter members who had registered but not started fundraising, and chapter members who had been fundraising. These e-mails included a link to a toolkit with fundraising tips, sample e-mails and text messages, sample social media posts, and graphics for Instagram stories.

Later in the day, they sent messages to members who fundraised on the push day, those that had not, and a thank you e-mail to all registered Greek students.

Terp Thon intentionally segmented their participants to maximize each group’s potential within the organization. They have seen a positive trend of open rates when utilizing segmentation to educate participants on the organization’s events and campaigns, meaning more students are reading and receiving their messaging.–r7eKbAZlhtfWo0mgCvdXGtPJGhI7VXD9gmk5HbWXzISSoxeoK6GzDx1qLE0V1HOa4vmekfocd279z_HkVwD5ivSZtSGNo0rEZ-xIc0ZsdQ2bc5u79-DRpk4eq9U95fecCxID40azjPHiZUQ3iTK2bEsmeomQMDTUgVXycMWXw0bv03VGo4jobaYG8wVsnOwtm1PJc2ZN7vQJ0F6H37QIJTh1vQIJjRvvYJVgWHMGaDmcO2YpE9lnHP30GiraJBLoI8-bdYrMWcYh9EZOkJATvMIE7pn76yVMWFTkdoEuAfx6V3v9w&__tn__=-R


The method of communication is highly important when Terp Thon is planning the communication with their participants. They make a point to personalize every single form of communication we send out, even if it is an email to all participants, to ensure that participants feel like a part of the organization and not just a number or fundraising total inside of it.

Their main form of communication is through email and social media. They have utilized DonorDrive campaigns to effectively inform participants while personalizing it and adding in tools to help participants navigate through their fundraising page.

In the ​week leading up​ to their Dance Marathon event, they personally texted participants who had the most potential to fundraise to encourage them and provide them with resources so they could reach the fundraising minimum and come to the event.

Terp Thon has made incredible efforts to adapt their communication to fit the needs and preferences of their participants. They have seen this positively impact the participant experience within their organization.

Terp Thon members receiving the Participant Communication Award at DMLC 2019.

Miracle Network Dance Marathon is an international movement, involving over 400 colleges, universities and K-12 schools across North America that fundraise for their local Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Since its inception in 1991, Miracle Network Dance Marathon has raised more than $250 million–ensuring that no child or family fights pediatric illness or injury alone.

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