Take The Plunge… with Polar Bears?

Polar plunge image.

Wikipedia will tell you that a Polar Bear Plunge is an event held during the winter where participants enter a body of water despite the low temperature. In reality, it’s a bunch of crazy people who think jumping in a freezing lake or ocean is a really, really good idea.

Polar Bear Plunges have popped up all over the world, most of which actually do have a purpose, like to raise money for a cause, event or foundation. There are, however, the occasional plunges that have nothing to do with charity and everything to do with bragging rights and/or bucket list check marks.

This month, we’re recommending the former. It’s winter, it’s freezing, there are plenty of charities in need and even more people in need of something out of the ordinary. You do the math

The first things you’ll need to set up your own plunge are a charity and a date. This will prove to be the absolute easiest part of the entire ordeal. (The hard part will be convincing family, friends, friends’ friends and complete strangers to agree to, and then actually take part in, the event). Once you have a date picked out, then you have the real work ahead of you.

A successful Polar Bear Plunge requires participants. So whether you send out emails, mail out real invitations, set up an evite, hand deliver the date and time or create an event on Facebook, make sure you get the word out. May we suggest that you demand an RSVP of some sort with the excuse that you’ll want to know how many people to count on in getting donations, but mostly you want to make sure you have it in writing that you aren’t the only one that is going to submerge themselves in frigid water for a significant period of time.

Once you’ve cornered people into making what can only be classified as a poor life decision, it is the cold and flu season after all, then it’s time to get going on the execution of the event. That means organizing some sort of entertainment factor, array of sustenance, beverages (may it be liquid courage or otherwise) and something to greet (and reward) the participants post-plunge.

Entertainment can be in the form of games, bands, a DJ, a slideshow, an iPod and dock or anything else you can think of to keep event attendees engaged and having a good time. In some cases, the beverages and entertainment can be knocked out with one punch. Beer pong, flip cup and other drinking games can prove to be entertaining (and necessary) to a bunch of people waiting around to jump in a freezing body of water. Food and drinks can adopt the BYO status to make your life a little easier, although we recommend having some snacks and a few “just in case” cases of beer, bottles of water and mugs of hot chocolate on hand.

It’s always a good idea to give your participants something to collect donations with, for example, a facts sheet about your chosen charity so donors know your event is legit, information about how the money will be used, information about the event itself in case the donor wants to attend and/or participate and a leave behind in the form of a small card or pamphlet to leave with the donors. Give the participants a charity goal, as well. While failure to reach the amount won’t keep anyone from being able to participate, it will give them a number to shoot for and hopefully surpass.

On the day of the event, once everyone goes in the water and comes back out again, you might want to give them something for committing to and going through with the plunge. A token of appreciation and perhaps an incentive to come back and do it again next year. This could be in the form of a warm towel with the event date and name on it, a sweatshirt, a t-shirt, a coffee mug or something else that “warms up” participants. It’s also a great way to say Thanks for your contributions!

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