It’s important to start getting into the philanthropic spirit early in life, to ensure a life full of giving and caring for others. Thanks to the thousands of charities within the United States alone, getting involved in philanthropic efforts at a young age is becoming increasingly easier. But of all the fundraising and charitable avenues to follow, few are more exciting than the efforts of those on college campuses across the country.


Collegiate giving is not necessarily a revolutionary tactic, as collegiate fundraising reaches millions of dollars each year, but what is new and exciting is the unique events that surround these charitable fundraisers. As millennials grow to be college-aged students, their entrepreneurial spirits and do-good lifestyles are bringing a fresh life to charitable collegiate fundraising. This wave of revitalized giving will hopefully influence generations to come, and hopefully even more charitable giving will come of it. Here, we’ll take a look at a few of the biggest collegiate fundraisers in America, whose entire proceeds go to their respective initiatives every year.



The Indiana University Dance Marathon is a giant annual event that culminates in a 36-hour dance marathon benefitting kids at the Ryan White Center for Infectious Diseases at Riley Hospital. The fundraiser began over two decades ago in 1991, and has since raised over $28 million. Run entirely by students attending Indiana University, participants must stand (and occasionally dance!) for 36 hours straight to show solidarity for the cause and the struggle that the children at Riley Hospital suffer. IUDM is the second-largest student-run philanthropy in the world.


Fashion Show

The small yet powerful Otis College of Art and Design has proudly hosted their fashion show event since 1983, making it one of the most profitable one-day-only fundraisers in the country. All proceeds from the event actually go to funding much-needed scholarships for their art and design student hopefuls and attendees. This event is a fun and fast fundraiser that showcases the incredible talents of the Otis College students, whose designs are actually worn in the show.


Relay for Life

Virginia Tech has taken this nationally recognized sector of the American Cancer Society and has made it into a pillar of cherished tradition for VT students. While it’s already worthy work to support Relay for Life, Virginia Tech made waves within the fundraising community when they became the first school to reach $500,000 in donations in 2009. In addition, this particular event has even garnered a slew of awards recognizing VT for their work. This year, the event had over 6,000 participants.


Dance Blue

2006 marked the first year for University of Kentucky’s dance marathon, Dance Blue. This event was inspired by marathons across the country who work to raise money for children battling cancer. The event has been growing over the last decade, with this year’s total reaching nearly $1.8 million. This annual activity-packed event was inspired by the late Jarrett Mynear, who wanted to help others also afflicted by cancer to feel uplifted rather than burdened. One of his final requests during his life was that his fundraising efforts would live on, and the University of Kentucky made that wish come true.



Penn State University has intense Nittany Lion pride for their annual dance marathon, having becoming the largest student-run philanthropy in the world. Since THON’s inception in 1973, PSU has raised over $147 million dollars to help kids fight cancer. This dance marathon spans an entire weekend, with dancers standing on their feet for 46 hours straight and dancing to a yearly-customized linedance once an hour to keep dancers and attendees spirited. The event has become so large that mini-thons have popped up on a majority of satellite campuses and high schools dedicated to the cause. The inspiration for this event comes from the founders of the Four Diamonds fund, whose child, Christopher Millard, was diagnosed with brain cancer at age 11 and wrote a short story about his fight that eventually became a movie.