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9 Steps to Plan a Polar Plunge Challenge

A polar plunge event can help raise money for your mission while bringing community members together for a fun winter event. If you’re interested in hosting a polar plunge fundraiser to support your organization, use these simple steps to get started:

  1. Set a fundraising goal. Decide how much you want to raise from your polar plunge event. Then, use your fundraising total to encourage participants to set certain personal fundraising goals that will help you reach the overall goal. 
  2. Determine the location and date. If your community has certain a certain body of water that freezes over, such as a pond or small lake, you might cut a chunk out of the ice for participants to jump in. It’s also important to find a location that has enough surrounding space for spectators, sponsor tents, refreshment tents, and EMS vehicles. Finally, be sure to set your event on a date when it will actually be cold outside in your local area. 
  3. Enlist sponsors. You’ll likely need the support of a few corporate sponsors to help cover costs such as tent rentals, facility fees, refreshments, and other overhead costs. Contact a few local businesses or past event sponsors to request sponsorship for your polar plunge. Highlight sponsorship benefits such as promoting sponsors on event flyers, t-shirts, and banners. 
  4. Create marketing materials. Design social media posts, flyers, email campaigns, local news press releases, and branded t-shirts to promote your upcoming event. A polar plunge is also a perfect opportunity to incorporate an adorable event mascot like a penguin or polar bear to help promote your fundraising efforts. 
  5. Recruit participants. Promote your upcoming event heavily among your existing supporter base. Invest in a peer-to-peer fundraising platform to create your main campaign page. Set a minimum fundraising amount, or allow participants to choose their own goal. Then, help participants create their own fundraising pages to collect donations ahead of your event. Offer a peer-to-peer fundraising toolkit with advice for personalizing the page and promoting it on social media and other communication platforms. 
  6. Determine event amenities. Your event will be much more engaging if you offer certain amenities and entertainment to participants and attendees. For example, make sure to offer polar plungers access to towels, blankets, warm beverages, hand warmers, and snacks. Have other refreshments on-site for attendees, such as food trucks and warming stations throughout. You might even choose to hire a DJ or live performer to keep attendees entertained. 
  7. Establish safety guidelines. Your polar plunge should be a fun event for participants and attendees, and part of that is ensuring everyone stays safe and frostbite-free. Have EMTs and lifeguards on site in case of any emergencies, and ensure all participants sign waivers before taking the plunge. 
  8. Recruit volunteers. In addition to safety personnel, your event will also require the support of a strong volunteer group. These supporters will manage the check-in booth, offer support to emergency services, sell refreshments, and more. 
  9. Prepare to take the plunge! When event day rolls around, be sure to take a moment to thank all volunteers, sponsors, and participants for supporting your cause. After the event, follow up with additional thank-you messages and offer an update on your fundraising total. Upload photos and videos from the event to your social media pages and website. 

4 Ways to Put a Unique Spin on Your Polar Plunge

You can make your polar plunge event even more engaging by giving it a fun or unexpected twist. Here are a few ideas for making your polar plunge event unique:

  • Do you want to host your fundraising event in a warmer month, or do you simply live in an area that doesn’t get that cold? Create a polar plunge environment from scratch by filling inflatable pools with ice water. You can brand your fundraiser as a “Christmas in July”-style event that brings wintry cheer to the hot summer months. 
  • Consider combining your polar plunge event with a fundraising 5K or fun run. Participants can dress up in themed costumes, such as Santa suits, and participate in a race. The finish line will include the option to take a polar plunge into a lake, pond, or pool. 
  • Another unique option for warmer climates is to host a mud plunge instead of a polar plunge. Find a large muddy area and challenge participants to collect donations for the chance to participate in a mud field day. Activities might include relay races or games of tug-of-war. 
  • Incorporate other fundraising opportunities throughout your main polar plunge event. For example, you might recruit a group of particularly hardy and locally-famous volunteers, like the mayor, high school principal, or fire chief. Attendees’ donations will lead to your volunteers taking a certain number of polar plunges. For instance, every $100 raised might correspond to one dunk for each volunteer.