After being marred in 2012 by unexpected costs and a lack of financial experience, Mizzou Dance Marathon made the case this year to avoid any such circumstances — circumstances that left thousands of dollars unaccounted for last year.
According to Mizzou Dance Marathon’s website, more than $78,000 was raised last year for the event. Only $59,020 of that amount, though, was donated directly to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, Mizzou DM’s beneficiary.
The difference between the amounts, totaling almost $19,000, was lost primarily to overhead costs and other assorted expenses that included renting the MU Recreation Center, catering the event and hiring a disk jockey. When broken down, it amounts to nearly 25 percent of the total amount fundraised.
Scrambling to prepare the main event last year is why the discrepancy is so large, said Mizzou Dance Marathon Executive Director Annie Bastida. Bastida oversaw 2013’s main event and the fundraising that occurred between last year’s main event and this year’s.
Among the unforeseen costs was a catering company that pulled out shortly before the main event and a music speaker that blew out. Much of the funds that went to paying for these issues were lost in translation, Bastida said.
“Last year’s discrepancies were very unfortunate,” Bastida said. “That’s why we worked extremely hard this year to make sure the amount we revealed at the end of the main event was the amount going to be donated and not the amount that was raised.”
Because of last year’s faults, Mizzou DM started from scratch shortly after 2012’s main event. Now, after allocating all the funds into a single account, the differentiation was made between what funds would pay for expenses and what would be donated.
All funds that were distinguished as donations – most of which were donated through the online service DonorDrive – could not be touched after they were made. This prevented anyone from dipping into donation funds in order to pay for overheads and expenses.
To pay for the overhead costs and expenses that surrounded the main event, Mizzou DM’s Steering Committee and Morale Captains raised funds themselves. By working concessions at football and basketball games, going door to door to ask for funds – otherwise known as canning – and receiving money from sponsorships, a total of $67,905.25 was raised.
Of that total, $13,780.23 was spent on overhead costs – costs that, once spent, offered no return. Another $12,208.85 paid for expenses that included T-shirts, water bottles, fanny packs and other items that Mizzou DM sold for a profit and therefore gained a return on. When the final donation was calculated, only the overhead costs presented a loss.
Financing became a central focus after last year. Mahir Khan was the 2012-2013 Director of Budget for Mizzou DM, a role that formally ended Sunday morning after the main event, he said.
It was his task to keep close tabs on what was being donated, what was being raised and what was being done with it. A detailed Microsoft Excel document spanning several sheets shows the breakdown of the funds all the way down to a single cent.
“This year, we wanted to move forward with a culture of transparency and a culture of austerity,” Khan said. “We didn’t want to spend money on superfluous things. We wanted to make sure every dime, every penny that we get, if it’s meant to go to the kids, it’s meant to go to the kids.”
Khan, a biology major and theater minor, had no previous experience in finance, though it became the bulk of his workload leading up to the main event. Rising to the challenge, he researched ways to cut down on overhead cost and expenses, keeping accurate books on what funds were meant to go where.
Of the total that was raised this year, just more than 8.1 percent amounted to the overhead costs, a vast improvement from last year.
“Even for a business like Walmart or Costco – non-retail even – 8.1 percent is where you want to be,” Khan said.
While keeping overheads low, Khan and the other members of Mizzou DM were able to hit their expectations out of the park, he said.
The original, public donation goal for Mizzou DM was $75,000, but a steeper private goal of $100,000 was also established. According to Khan’s calculations, the current donation total stands at $156,607.43, a number that, because online donations are accepted through April 1, is still rising.
According to a Mizzou DM news release, this skyrocketed MU’s event to the eighteenth largest in the country.
“Not to put this lightly, but we busted our ass to raise a lot of money just so the dancers can take pride in what they raise goes to the hospital,” Khan said.