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Trojan Dance Marathon (USC) Receives National Most Improved Dance Marathon Award

Trojan Dance Marathon (TDM) at the University of Southern California was recently awarded the Most Improved Dance Marathon Award at the Miracle Network Dance Marathon Leadership Conference in July. The award recognizes a Dance Marathon organization that has taken significant steps to increase funds raised for their local Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and overall participation and/or improve the execution of the event or year-round programming.

In 2017, Trojan Dance Marathon raised just over $13,000, well under their goal of $50,000. After multiple years of declining participation and fundraising, their organization was encouraged to take a hiatus in order to regroup and start fresh. As a result, TDM did not host a dance marathon in 2018.

In the fall of 2018, several members got together and reached back out to their hospital, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) to ask about relaunching TDM in 2019. TDM exec members created a comprehensive business plan and conducted research to prove that Dance Marathon could work on their campus. TDM set new goals of registering 400 participants and raising $25,000. The students recruited 21 new executive board members, with each creating their own comprehensive plan for TDM 2019.

First, in an effort to overcome the previous challenges of implementing DM on their campus, they focused heavily on outreach and marketing the event. The students set up a table at the Fall Involvement Fair to market their organization to new first-year and transfer students.

TDM worked to increase their brand recognition by creating relationships and presenting to other student organizations and Greek Life. Through educating the USC student body, TDM’s mission and the name were more recognizable on campus.

They cultivated a professional, streamlined voice for the organization, carried out across all platforms, including social media. At a large school like USC, there are a seemingly endless number of causes to embrace. Accordingly, the TDM students had to vary the tone of their marketing content to differentiate their cause from the rest and capture student’s attention and interest in Dance Marathon. They balanced serious, cause-driven videos (geared toward evoking empathy) with frenetic, comedic clips that were connected to their organization’s mission and brought a smile to people’s faces.

Finally, TDM made logistical improvements to their Dance Marathon event. They changed the time of their event to a 6-hour event to better suit their participants’ schedules and moved their event to an indoor venue that better fit the size of their event. The students planned more activities and had a variety of entertainment options, including a comedy group, an a capella group, yoga classes, and crafts. TDM also invited four Miracle Families, two CHLA Junior Ambassadors, and Jake Olsen, USC Football Player and retinoblastoma survivor, to speak at TDM’s Big Event to inspire TDM members.

By the end of the year, the students had registered over 300 participants in Donor Drive and recruited 29 teams–seven Greek organizations, three non-profit organizations, two pre-professional organizations, three dance-related organizations and other student interest groups. They were able to come together and collectively fundraise $31,325 raised for CHLA, well over their $25,000 goal.

In their award application, the students said “in one year we effectively re-established our program and increased name recognition on campus.” TDM is a comeback story that impacted hundreds of lives and impacted hundreds as well. Relationships were restored with CHLA and many new ones were built with Miracle Families, USC students and staff, and many Los Angeles businesses and organizations.

Trojan DM receives the Most Improved Dance Marathon 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.

Learn more about Miracle Network Dance Marathon:

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