Holding a polar bear plunge has become a high profile fundraising event for the Special Olympics and other worthy causes. Group challenges raise big bucks by drawing huge crowds for a feel good activity, at least after everyone who’s taken the plunge has warmed back up!
A polar bear plunge can take place on a frozen lake or even a cold river, but the biggest fundraising events involve a mass rush into chilly ocean waters in January or February. In Baltimore, over 8,000 people took the plunge into the icy waters of Chesapeake Bay and raised $2.8 million for the Maryland Special Olympics. In Delaware, 3,500 costumed participants ran across the beach and into the ocean, raising $650,000 for the Delaware Special Olympics.
Many similar fundraising events are held throughout the country and most draw large crowds, sometimes way out of proportion to the size of the local community. Event organizers have discovered that people love the daring aspect of doing something they wouldn’t ordinarily do as long as its for a good cause.
Many of these events have leveraged the widespread appeal by scheduling their Polar Plunge for a Sunday and holding additional fundraising activities on Saturday.
Groups can add a 5k fun run, a chilli cook off, a costume contest, ice sculpture contests, eating contests and any other fun activity that has widespread appeal.
You can sell souvenir t-shirts featuring event graphics and slogans like “I survived.”
Make sure to heavily publicize your event with flyers featuring creative graphics, sending out press releases, getting local media coverage and leveraging social media.
Catchy names and slogans are another good way to get attention for your Polar Bear Plunge. Plungapalooza, Freezin’ For A Reason, Dare to Bear, Get Your Plunge On, PlungeFest, and anything else you can think of.
Combine a zany experience with a worthy cause and you’ve got a great fundraising event!