Make Your Winter Fundraising Cooler With a Polar Bear Plunge Fundraiser

Looking for a classic winter fundraising idea? Look no further than the Polar Bear Plunge! This fun and popular fundraiser is perfect for any organization looking to raise money in the colder months. In this article, we cover everything you need to know about hosting a Polar Bear Plunge Fundraiser, from keys to success to common pitfalls. So read on and get ready to take the plunge! 


Why Should an  Organization Consider Hosting a Polar Bear Plunge Fundraiser?

Polar Bear Plunge Fundraiser ImageA Polar Bear Plunge fundraiser is a great way to bring people together in an exciting and out-of-the-box way. It's also a great way to engage the community and gain visibility for your organization. Participants will likely share photos of their plunge with friends and family, which can help spread the word about your cause. Plus, Polar Bear Plunges have become increasingly popular over time, so you don’t have to worry about coming up with something completely novel. 

You can also find creative ways to tie the event into your organization's mission, drawing a parallel between the challenge of the plunge and the challenges faced by donation recipients. While winter is often considered the best time of year for such an event, it can even be held off-season using a tub, lake, river, or beach. Overall, Polar Bear Plunge fundraisers are relatively inexpensive, and they provide lots of fodder to share across social media. 

5 Steps to Hosting a Successful Polar Bear Plunge Fundraiser

Hosting a Polar Bear Plunge is relatively simple. You can either set a registration fee or set a mandatory fundraising goal. This makes it easy to create a simple registration process and to keep everyone involved on the same page. 

The following are important steps to take as you plan for and execute your event: 

  1. Choose a Location

    Make sure you choose a spot that is safe and accessible. Consider factors like the water temperature, shoreline access, nearby lifeguard station, and any special permits that may be required. 

  2. Promote Your Event

    Create an online presence for your Polar Bear Plunge fundraiser, including setting up and promoting registration on a dedicated fundraising event page. Spread the word about the plunge on social media sites and through local media outlets to get potential participants excited about your event.  Also, reach  out to past participants and donors: they will be some of your biggest champions. And if this is your first time hosting an event, consider utilizing a donor management platform.  This way, you can easily have the donor data you need on hand for your next Polar Bear Plunge. 

  3. Set Expectations

    Clearly explain what participants can expect to get out of the Polar Bear Plunge experience, such as prizes for fundraisers who raise more money than others. You should also provide a detailed explanation of the safety precautions they must take while in the water.

  4. Host the Event

    On the day of the Polar Bear Plunge, ensure that participants are properly registered and briefed on safety measures. Have trained professionals available to assist with not only keeping all participants safe and having fun but also with taking plunge photos and videos (if desired).

  5. Follow Up With Participants

    Following your Polar Bear Plunge fundraiser, reach out to thank those who participated in your fundraiser. Share photos and videos of the event if you have them. Also, consider providing additional incentives for those who’ve raised more money than their peers.

Grab this free peer-to-peer event-planning template!


3 Keys to   a Successful Polar Bear Plunge Fundraiser

To help you host a fun, successful, and memorable event this season, we’ve pulled together three primary keys to success for your Polar Bear Plunge fundraiser:

  1. Keep it Sincere

    Make sure your messaging centers those who you are helping. Remind participants that they’re taking part in a fundraising event for an important cause, not just playing around in cold water. Also, keep in mind there are a lot of great sponsorship opportunities here, such as having a local business sponsor a band, after-party, concessions stand, branded blankets, and more.

  2. Keep it Fun

    Polar Bear Plunge fundraisers can be chilly, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be lighthearted. Encourage participants to dress up as polar bears, wear costumes or come up with other creative ways to make the experience fun and exciting, like hosting an after-party or including a carnival, band, games, or other entertainment as part of the fun.

  3. Keep it Simple

    Simplify the process as much as possible. Adopt easy registration methods by creating an on-brand landing page that empowers your supporters to form teams and compete to be at the top of the fundraising leaderboard. 


3 Pitfalls to Avoid for  Your Polar Bear Plunge Fundraiser

Polar Bear Plunges are great fun, but there are some pitfalls to be aware of as well. These include: 

  1. Timing
    Polar Bear Plunge fundraisers require planning ahead, and proper timing is critical for success. Make sure you give yourself adequate time to plan the event, obtain necessary permits, and make a proper announcement on social media platforms. By giving yourself enough time, you can ensure your logistics are solid.

  2. Safety 
    Polar plunge events can pose safety risks if not managed properly. Ensure that participants adhere to all guidelines provided by local authorities or lifeguards before entering the water. Have medical staff on hand, perhaps divers or police, for any possible mishaps. You should also consult a lawyer and create a strong waiver well in advance of your event. 

  3. Volunteers
    Make sure you have enough volunteers to handle registration and the Polar Bear Plunge fundraiser itself. This includes having people on-site to ensure all safety guidelines are followed, as well as people to help with registration and running the event. 


Taking These Polar Bear Plunge Ideas to the Next Level with FrontStream

If your Polar Bear Plunge fundraiser needs a little extra help, FrontStream's suite of digital fundraising platform tools can elevate your event to the next level. FrontStream makes it easy to set up the initial event, and you can easily create copies of the event in the event builder feature for related fundraisers. Easily share videos, photos, the organization’s story, and more. Customize fonts, colors, and branding to promote your event, organization, and sponsors. 

There's even a “Donor Covers the Fee” option, team functionality, fundraising minimum options, as well as fundraising goals, and optional registration fees. You can also take advantage of premium services, including personalized training as you build your event or the option to have one of our experts build a beautifully branded event for you. 

With powerful online registration options, payment processing, social sharing capabilities, online tracking for donors and participants, donor rewards programs, and more, FrontStream gives you everything you need to make your Polar Bear Plunge fundraiser a success! 



Share this article