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Creative And Unique
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Could your organization help schools or nonprofits raise funds at their cardboard boat race? Consider sponsoring this fundraising idea!

How to Launch a Cardboard Boat Race Fundraiser

1. Choose a location, date, and time for the cardboard boat race.

First, determine where you can host your cardboard boat race. You’ll need a large body of water that can accommodate all of your participants safely, such as a lake or a large outdoor pool. 

Once you have a location in mind, work with the owners of the venue to set a date. Ideally, this would be a weekend in late spring or summer. If you’re hosting a cardboard boat race as a school fundraiser, consider choosing the last week of school or the day after finals.

2. Set your cardboard boat race rules.

Before recruiting participants, determine any rules for the cardboard board race. These should include safety rules, boat construction rules, and any age or team size requirements. Your rules might look like:

  • Participants must wear life jackets at all times.
  • Boats can be made only out of household materials.
  • No more than 4 people per team.
  • Boats must stay in the designated area.
  • Kids must be at least 12 to participate in the race (all children are welcome to watch!).

Be sure to check with the owners of your venue ahead of time to see if they have any additional rules guests will need to follow. For example, they may require a set number of lifeguards to be on duty at all times. Ask if you need to provide your own lifeguards or if the venue will provide them for you.

3. Promote the event and recruit participants. 

Advertise the event well in advance so you have enough time to draw in guests and participants. Make announcements in school, post information on social media, and post flyers throughout the community.

You should also create two different registration pages on your website:

  1. Register to participate. This should be a detailed online form that asks for all team members’ names and students’ ages. Registrants should have to read and agree to the race rules and sign any necessary waivers.
  2. Register to attend the race. This form is your typical event signup page. Include information about the time, date, and location, and add a donation field so guests can donate early.

Remember that participants will need to have plenty of time to build their boats after signing up! It helps to set a participation registration deadline to ensure everyone has enough time to prepare.

4. Participants build their boats.

After everyone has registered, participants will get to work building their cardboard boats! Send periodic reminders to your participants as the event approaches to ensure they don’t run out of time. Provide contact information for a staff member who can answer any participant questions, too. 

5. Host the race and collect donations.

It’s time for the cardboard boat race! As guests arrive, remind them of the cause they’re supporting and collect donations. Then, make sure all of your participants are lined up and ready to go. Space out lifeguards and volunteers throughout the area so they can help participants swim back to shore if their boats don’t make it to the finish line. 

Don’t forget to celebrate the winners and thank everyone for attending!

How to Raise Funds at a Cardboard Boat Race

There are many ways you can raise funds at your cardboard boat race. Choose one of the following, or combine multiple methods to boost your fundraising potential: 

  • Sell tickets to the event. The simplest way to raise funds is to charge a fee for admission. Sell tickets for $20 or $30 a person, and allow guests to increase their donation on the registration page if they like. 
  • Charge a fee to enter the race. You can also charge a registration fee for participants, especially if your participants are all adults. Consider making this fee a smaller amount, however, since participants will also have to purchase their own boat supplies.
  • Sell special boat race t-shirts. A cardboard boat race is a memorable event! Plenty of supporters would love to purchase a custom, branded event t-shirt in support of your school or nonprofit.
  • Ask participants to raise funds. Instead of asking your participants themselves to donate, another option is to ask them to fundraise on your behalf. Create team campaign pages for each participating team, and they can reach out to friends and family to raise funds ahead of the raise.