Fundraising and “Fun”raising with Team OLG Point Edward

Written by Wendy Ho
The results are in. A total of $2,100 was raised by OLG Point Edward Casino’s Bet on Green (BOG) team and supporters in its 3rd Annual Polar Bear Dip in support of WWF’s Arctic Home campaign. The best part – all donations to WWF’s Arctic Home efforts will be matched by Coca-Cola® dollar-for-dollar up until March 15, 2014, to a maximum of $1 million USD (Canada and U.S. only).
Blessed with a window of opportunity on a relatively warm day (air temperature of -1°C), 12 committed and daring dippers took the plunge in Lake Huron on the first Sunday of 2014.

These brave souls, most of whom were repeat Dippers, were not alone. An organized team of supporters were standing by with blankets and hot chocolate under OLG’s event tent which soon turned into a gathering place for the media, family, friends, and curious spectators.

Employees run and plunge into icy waters in support WWF’s Arctic Conservation work!
Employees run and plunge into icy waters in support WWF’s Arctic Conservation work! ©OLG

The icy dip took mere seconds, but was nonetheless part of a larger cause supported by employees with huge motivations and aspirations. Bet on Green team member, Nora Jennings, attributes the success to a well-established sense of community built around the event.
“Start early in your communications and find fun ways to motivate and educate along the way,” says Nora.
Her strategies for a successful event included:

  • Implementing a fundraising minimum of $100 for each participating employee.
  • Posting information and pictures from WWF’s website in the lunch room, as well as on the shared online company bulletin board.
  • Regular chats by the water cooler and hallway which sparked friendly fundraising competition.
  • Recruiting family and friends as volunteers for various positions pre and post-Dip.
  • Trivia games, fun facts and swag to entertain the crowd on Dip Day.
  • Picking a superstar event organizer! Nora attests that her fellow green team member, Deb Fraser-Brown, was the main Polar Bear Dip coordinator. Her planning and prep was one of the main reasons the event was so successful. (You also may recall Deb from our last blog in 2013, who pledged to do the dip. Well, true to her word, Deb plunged into the lake polar bear style, and says she’ll do it again in a heartbeat!)

Polar Bear Dippers pose for a group shot, post-plunge!
Polar Bear Dippers pose for a group shot, post-plunge! ©OLG

“I think the event has truly become a tradition. It’s an expectation, and is now a part of our culture!” Nora says. Does plunging into icy water in the name of environmental conservation interest you and your colleagues too?! Here are Nora’s three tips for anyone organizing one:

  • Find a spot where you can go in that’s clear (scout the location ahead of time!).
  • Arrange to have Emergency Medical Service (EMS) on site.
  • Set up tents as warming stations with blankets!

Four tips for the Polar Dippers:

  • Wear a bathing suit underneath clothing that can be quickly changed post-Dip.
  • Wear shoes to protect your feet against sharp rocks and jagged ice.
  • Bring extra blankets, warm clothing and hot beverages. (The OLG team thanks Tim Horton’s for supplying the hot beverages for the third year in a row).
  • Contact your local media to help promote your event and cause.

“Frigid, exciting and hopeful” sum up Nora’s feelings for the 2014 OLG Point Edward Polar Bear Dip. Staff at WWF-Canada are also planning to follow in the (somewhat) same footsteps with a Polar Bear Walk or Run in late February to raise funds for Arctic Home.
It’s not too late to start planning your own FUNdraising event for Arctic Home now! Check out some ideas in our post from December or visit WWF’s Living Planet @ Work for more!