Whether or not you take to ice-cold water like a polar bear, WWF’s Polar Dip is an exhilarating way to scale up conservation efforts for Arctic wildlife such as polar bears, narwhals and caribou. Ahead of our fourth annual Polar Dip on Feb. 28, aspiring dippers have asked for tips on rallying co-workers to take the plunge and blowing fundraising targets out of the water.
To answer your questions, we enlisted Polar Dip veteran Gillian Hrycko, environmental programs manager at Hewlett Packard Enterprise Canada (she’s done the dip three times!) and Esha Bhatti, environment and business analyst at HP Canada. After successfully leading dip teams for the reigning Spring Things champs, they know a thing or two about pulling off a successful dip.
Q: When I found out about WWF’s Polar Dip, I wanted to get involved right away, but my workload for the next quarter is jam-packed. How do I pursue something I love without falling behind?
Gillian: Your busy workload shouldn’t stop you from pursuing what you’re passionate about. However, you may need some help from a few keen colleagues. Your first step should be to recruit volunteers to join you in Polar Dip planning and assign them tasks to help reduce your workload. Many of them are probably looking for ways to make a difference at work, too.
Q: The Polar Dip sounds like a great event! I’d love to get my company to support WWF-Canada’s Arctic conservation work, but my colleagues aren’t exactly adventurous. What can I do to convince my colleagues to participate without getting laughed at?
Esha: Everybody loves a little competition. A great way to encourage participation is to create incentives for your co-workers to dip – a department challenge or a prize for signing-up. Talk up the bragging rights. You can also share this video with your colleagues to help them see just how much fun it really is! For those who just can’t be convinced, WWF’s Polar Bear Walk is another way they can make a difference for the Arctic, with a little less of the “chill” factor.
Q: On February 28, I’ll be jumping into Lake Ontario for WWF’s Polar Dip, and I’m super pumped! I’ve invited almost everyone in my office to join me – except for my CEO. Frankly, I’m a little scared to ask. But I know that getting her involved will significantly help us raise funds and get even more employees involved. How do I get over my fear of approaching the CEO about the dip?
Gillian: The truth is, no CEO would be unimpressed with an employee going above and beyond to take the lead on driving positive change for the community. In fact, engaging employees is actually good for business. That said, it can still be overwhelming to approach a senior leader. To help with this, practice with a script first, or bring a colleague along to support you in making the ask. Regardless of the answer, I guarantee your CEO will appreciate your enthusiasm and it will reflect positively on you as an employee.
Q: We’ve been working hard to fundraise for our Polar Dip, but are struggling to move that thermometer up. It’s really affecting our confidence to continue fundraising. Can you share any tips on how we can take our fundraising to the next level?
Gillian: First, it’s great to hear that you’ve set a fundraising goal for your team – that’s a critical first step. To take things to the next level, try organizing different events to raise funds for the Polar Dip. You can host a raffle, organize a bake sale, or even have a polar dip costume competition or auction (which, for us, led to our CFO dipping in a tutu).
Q: Our company is very excited to be participating in the Polar Dip. I’ve sent out an email inviting my coworkers to participate. Do you know of any other ways I can spread the word?
Esha: You can share the Polar Dip via your company Intranet site, post in an internal newsletter or drop mini pamphlets at your colleagues’ desks. Take it to the next level by encouraging management to talk about it in all-employee meetings, or by setting up a Polar Dip booth over the lunch break. All you need to remember is to get creative and communicate often.