DM donations steady despite less corporate funding

Sheila Burt

With the event one week away, overall donations for Dance Marathon 2003 are stable, organizers said, despite a slight decrease in corporate donations due to the nation’s two-year economic downturn.

DM, one of the largest student-run philanthropic events in the country requires participating couples to raise a minimum of $750.

In addition to the money raised by dancers, the event receives one-eighth of its donations from corporations. The fund-raising total typically falls between $400,000 and $500,000, DM finance co-chairwomen Anne Williamson and Michelle Rabkin said.

Rabkin and Williamson, both Weinberg seniors, said they expect DM 2003 to meet or exceed past fund-raising totals. DM raised $482,320 last year, down from $540,207 in 2001.

DM corporate relations co-chairpersons Christine Choi and Matty Francis said the corporate donations are “in the same boat” as last year. But they have decreased compared to when the economy was stronger, they said.

“Two years ago, it was just amazing,” said Francis, a McCormick junior. “When we look back, we think life would have been a lot easier if we had those economic conditions. But I’m happy with where we are right now.”

Some companies, such as Ford Motor Co., did not donate this year because of decreasing profits, Choi said. Ford donated the largest amount two years ago, she added.

“But we have had new donors that have never donated before,” said Choi, an Education senior. “That’s been really great.”

Two new organizations are Red Eye and Metromix, the Tribune Co. tabloid and Web site geared toward young adults. Red Eye donated a significant amount of ad space to DM, Choi said.

Both Choi and Francis said about 12 major corporations have donated to DM, compared to about 20 in past years.

The corporate committee has “strategized differently” to compensate for the loss by targeting more college-orientated companies in the Evanston and the Chicago area, Choi said.

“We went around to new restaurants,” Choi said. “We thought they would be interested.”

The largest monetary donation this year was a regional gift from Miller Brewing Co. Kaplan, a test-prep organization, was the largest non-monetary donator, offering class preparation for the Law School Admission Test and Medical College Admission Test.

“We’re getting less money from corporations, but people are more inspired to take responsibility and raise a lot more money,” Rabkin said.

Last year, the largest single donation from a couple was $7,000. Rabkin and Williamson said several couples this year already have raised more than $1,000.

Zeta Beta Tau held a phone-a-thon with fraternity alumni, in addition to traditional canning, to raise money during the difficult economic situation.

Though the phone-a-thon was successful, donations have been slightly affected by the economy, ZBT president Howard Shneider said.

“People seem a little more hesitant to donate, but it’s a great cause,” said Shneider, a Weinberg junior. Shneider would not give any specific numbers.

Kappa Delta, a sorority that works closely with ZBT for DM, also participated in the phone-a-thon. But Kappa Delta’s Philanthropy DM Chair Anna Volerman said she noticed a decline in canning efforts at Old Orchard Shopping Center.

Francis said raising money this year has been tough. But Williamson said DM’s philanthropic purpose can be measured in more than just dollars.

“We’re always trying to raise more money,” she said. “But it’s not always how we define success.”