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Dance Marathon: Best Merchandise

Miracle Network Dance Marathon programs often use merchandise to help spread awareness about their organization, recognize their hospital and sponsors, and as mementos or incentives for dancers and supporters. Merchandise can be any items or pieces of apparel from your Miracle Network Dance Marathon program that was either sold or given out as promotional material to participants. This includes (but is not limited to) t-shirts, headbands, fanny packs, water bottles, car decals, etc. Dance Marathon programs are encouraged to align their merchandise with their program’s brand while making an effort to co-brand with their local hospital and Miracle Network Dance Marathon.

Below are some examples of merchandise from a number of the Dance Marathon programs that applied for the Best Merchandise award, which will be presented at the 2017 Dance Marathon Leadership Conference in July.

Bowling Green State University:

Dance Marathon at BGSU created multiple pieces of merchandise for participants and families to buy. In addition to fundraising, their goal for their merchandise is to allow participants to show their pride for Dance Marathon at BGSU while also allowing it to serve as a conversation starter to help educate others about the cause they’re working for.

Florida State University:

Dance Marathon at Florida State University made it a top priority this year to improve and expand their brand beyond what they had ever done before. In the 2015-2016 academic year, Dance Marathon at FSU had only profited less than $600 by the end of the year from merchandise sales. By introducing an online store, selling merchandise at events and on campus, including more eye-catching and desirable merchandise, and implementing a much more strategic plan on how to distribute our products, DM at FSU was able to raise over $45k in net profits from merchandise alone for the 2016-2017 year.

DM at FSU wanted to make sure that their merchandise aligned with their branding and goals, so many of their merchandise items incorporated their year-long “Do More” campaign.

At their Dance Marathon, DM at FSU wanted students to be able to see all of the merchandise they had to offer, so they also implemented a new walk-through store. Because of the changes implemented within their merchandise program, the position of Merchandise Chair has now been added to their executive board in the hope that this portion of our organization will continue to grow year after year.

University of Alabama:

University of Alabama Dance Marathon sold over 20 different items this year, ranging from fanny packs to baseball hats or snapbacks, t-shirts, pullover sweatshirts, laptop stickers, headbands and so much more. While walking around UA’s campus, one can always find someone representing UADM as merchandise is an awesome form of advertisement for their organization on such a large campus. This past year, merchandise raised over $3,000 at the main event alone, contributing to their overall fundraising goal.

University of Findlay:

University of Findlay Miracle Network Dance Marathon held a merchandise sale as part of their fundraising efforts for the first time this year. Inspired by several programs at DMLC, they sought to create merchandise that culminated what it means to be an Oiler (their mascot), a dancer and part of a movement for Mercy Children’s Hospital. They created several different designs that showed different aspects of what it means to be For The Kids at the University of Findlay.

In addition to their incredibly successful, first-ever merchandise sale which raised over $578 with 119 different orders, they also distributed other merchandise around campus throughout the school year. Whether it was their Welcome Week T-shirts that were tie-dyed by over 300 new and returning students, coffee cups that adorned UF MNDM stickers and social media handles during midterms, lanyards holding student’s ID’s and dorm keys, sunglasses, wristbands or the Main Event T-shirts, everywhere you turned on campus, someone was sporting UF MNDM apparel. They saw an increase in registered dancers following the merchandise sale once students around campus had stories to tell and explained the meaning about their shirts, hats and waterbottles.

University of Florida:

Dance Marathon at UF’s merchandise program in 2017 was able to make a profit of over $168,000 and sold more than 15,000 items. This 25% increase over 2016 was made possible by placing a large focus on their high school Mini Marathons, lowering their costs, and increasing their product offering. This year, they were able to sell and ship our merchandise to customers in over 10 states and even other Dance Marathon programs to sell at their events. They also offered merchandise at all of their Mini Marathon events and allowed them to place preorders and bulk orders for their schools. This led to over $19,000 in Mini Marathon sales which is a 171% increase from 2016.

DM at UF believes that the awareness, reach, and potential conversations their merchandise provides creates the most value for their organization. When their campus is covered in over 5,000 students wear our check-in shirt every Wednesday, it provides great promotion for their cause and is an opportunity to grow the DM at UF family. They have heard countless stories from dancers and captains about people in airports or in their home cities asking “What is Dance Marathon?” while wearing a piece of DM at UF merchandise.

Their proudest addition to the merchandise line up this year was their Linedance Shirt. This shirt featured all of songs and clips that make up the Linedance hand drawn on the back. They managed to keep it a secret that they were creating this shirt to sell and surprised the dancers after the reveal of the Linedance at the Dance Marathon event. Dancers loved being able to buy merchandise that reminded them of one of their favorite parts of DM. Another shirt that was very popular this year was their Rave Tank. This year, the writing on the tank top glowed in the dark which was perfect for rave hour.

University of Missouri:

The MizzouThon design team does a great job of creating a variety of merchandise to sell throughout the year–such as long and short-sleeved t-shirts, hats, fanny packs, sweatshirts, and water bottles–that appeals to all of their different audiences such as their miracle families, MiniMizzouThon dancers, and college students.

Some of their favorite items include their main event t-shirt (top left) with the American Sign Language sign for “I love you” featured to show their passion for the kids; their “Making the Tiny Mighty” tank to remind students of the work their doing; and their t-shirt featuring the names of their Miracle kids. The MizzouThon marketing team cares deeply about representing their organization and their cause in the best light and utilize their creative skills to continuously make their program better.

University of Oklahoma:

Soonerthon is able to unite their campus through their merchandise and exemplify how their campus supports and serves the hospital and the kids, while also fundraising through their sales. They sell items throughout the year that include the “For The Kids” motto. Their maroon “Miracle Maker” shirts are given to dancers who have raised over $1,000 by the time of their Dance Marathon.

Miracle Network Dance Marathon is an international movement, involving over 300 colleges and universities 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 $180 million–ensuring that no child or family fights pediatric illness or injury alone.

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