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What We Learned: Saint Louis University

On November 7th, 2020, Saint Louis University Miracle Network Dance Marathon (SLUDM) celebrated our 10th year anniversary, and our first virtual main event. As we transitioned to a virtual event, we ensured to implement a few of our favorite parts of our main event: focusing on our miracle families, in-event fundraising pushes, and a rave hour.

With a virtual event, we had the ability to invite our miracle families to participate in a unique way. Using zoom allowed each participant to feel as if they have a front-row seat to our miracle families, increasing the bond each participant feels with them. After sharing their stories and the impact CMN has had on them, we continued our engagement with the family via dancing to their kiddos’ favorite songs, or asking them questions on all their favorite things! During this, we found it important to share with our miracle families what activities they may be entering our zoom during, so they are not surprised by what they are joining. Obviously, timelines are not always perfect and we quickly realized having a list of fillers made for the downtime on zoom is crucial to allow a virtual event to run smoothly, with no awkward pauses. If our event prior to a miracle family hopping on ended early, we had activities that could fill that time, from dance parties to questions in the chat, to shouting out participants for reaching their fundraising milestones.


With a six-hour event, we had three in-event fundraising pushes. For our organization, we found it was best to implement these live on zoom, rather than in pre-recorded videos, because we had more engagement and active participation. Our goal was to make fundraising, FUN!, and we found implementing activities, similar to what we do in person, engaged our participants. We saw having a push following a speaker created a direct cause connection for our participants. For our first push we had a nurse speak, followed by an audio clip about Daniel. Both focused on how our miracle kids are superheroes. With that our push focused on the superheroes in our participants’ lives. Following Daniel’s audio clip, we asked every participant to put in the chat who their superhero is. After we had a flood of responses, we followed with our direct ask, to reach out to 3 superheroes in your life, asking for a $10 donation in honor of Daniel. 

The second fundraising burst we found to be successful was our fundraising rave. We invited a DJ to join us on zoom to play music, use his fog machine, and engage our crowd. We started this rave by telling our participants that every $9 they raised they could put the word “buzzer” in our zoom chat and the DJ would hit the buzzer, allowing everyone to watch as our fundraising efforts grew! With 39 minutes left in our event, we paused to hear Liam’s story, a NICU baby. After Liam’s story, we asked each participant to ask 3 people for a $9 donation, in honor of the 39 babies who enter a NICU every hour. As we transitioned back to our rave, we had a final celebration for all our miracle kids we supported all year long! Having participants engage with us through either the chat or dancing prior to having them participate in an ask allows them to feel involved as participants, rather than just viewers, and this we believe created a larger engagement in our fundraising asks during our virtual event. With these unique experiences for our participants during our virtual event, we saw strong retention of individuals throughout the day, and in our post-event survey had an increase in positive responses to feeling our mission and having a lasting impact. 


Prepared By:

Kaitlyn Vogel

SLUDM President

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 $300 million–ensuring that no child or family fights pediatric illness or injury alone.

Learn more about Miracle Network Dance Marathon:

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