Coney Island Polar Plunge

You may not think jumping into the Atlantic Ocean in early January would be many people’s idea of a good time. But, it turns out it is. In fact, each year on January 1st an enthusiastic bunch of folks gather on Coney Island to do just that. 

The Coney Island New Year’s Day Polar Plunge is a fundraising event with thousands of participants. It’s a free event but participants are encouraged to fundraise for it. And fundraise they did. This past year they raised over $125k, outperforming their $100k goal by a mile. And they used GiveSignup to do it. 

Customer Snapshot

  • Location: Coney Island
  • Total donations: $125,000
  • Total attendees: 5,000+

Easy to find, easy to register 

Since the event has so many participants and supporters, it’s important to have a central place everyone can go. Their website – which is free of charge on GiveSignup – acts as that center point. They created pages dedicated pages for event details, as well as pages for the event’s schedule, and even the different incentives people can earn through raising certain amounts of money. 

Their website is where people could sign up to participate, as well as join as fundraisers. It’s also where people supporting individual fundraisers could go to donate to them. When someone signs up to be a fundraiser they get a personal donation link, that’s autogenerated by GiveSignup. No link, no problem. The “Find a participant” page makes it easy for people to find the participant they wanted to support. All they do is search their name and make the selection.

Bringing in the funds 

Even though it’s a fun event, the core aim is to raise funds for local organizations. To help further incentivize people they decided to include different prizes for raising different amounts of money. For example, raising $100 got fundraisers a Polar Plunge sticker, t-shirt, and beanie.

Though it’s near certain most weren’t fundraising solely for the incentives, they could be a motivator for someone to push for a few more donations. And as anyone in fundraising knows, every bit helps. And seeing as they beat their donation goal by over 25%, it’s clear that they did something right. 

Data from our 2023 Race Trends Report also shows that events using peer-to-peer fundraising raise over 7x as much as events that just have a donate option. Setting up peer-to-peer donations with GiveSignup is easy to do. Once it’s turned on for your event, people can sign up as fundraisers. They’re given a personal link to send out to supporters. Supporters can also search for individual fundraisers by name on your event page. 

Keeping in touch  

The Coney Island Polar Plunge also utilized GiveSignup’s free email tool to send messages out to participants. They sent one message out the day before to remind participants of the event details like time and location. They followed up with an eventday email with their registration QR code – which is automatically generated – as well as the event details, just in case the previous message missed someone’s inbox. 

Even better, when they’re planning next year’s Polar Plunge, they’ll have access to an email list of past participants making it easy to re-engage people who’ve participated in the event previously. There are also automated email options automatically follow-up for when people don’t finish registration and a few other scenarios. 

Jumping in 

The Coney Island New Year’s Day Polar Plunge is a great event and we’re proud to play a small part in their story. Their effective use of a number of tools has helped them create a memorable event that brings the public together for a worthy cause. 

If you’re ready to create a fundraising event of your own, you can do so here

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