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Sparking Convo: Take the Plunge – Join a Fundraising Event

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For many, feeling good about donating is the simple act of writing a check and sending it off to a cause you believe in. However for others, this feeling is increased tenfold when they get to actually join the cause and participate in the act of fundraising through an event. Whether it’s jumping into a freezing cold lake, walking all night or growing a mustache, people love to get involved and take action for something they support. Additionally, when charities or specific causes hold events, they not only earn more donations, but they often earn the awareness that will keep donations coming once the event is over.

One event that I have personally been lucky enough to take part in is called the Penguin Plunge. The Penguin Plunge is a three-event series in Vermont where [crazy] participants splash into freezing cold bodies of water in order to raise money for Special Olympics Vermont. The events take place in late January/early February in North Bennington, Newport, and the largest is in Burlington, VT. Starting way back in 1996, a few participants leapt into Lake Champlain, raising a total of $8,000 for Special Olympics Vermont. Just one year later, donations more than tripled to $27,000.

Fast forward to 2011, when the Penguin Plunge raised about one third of Special Olympics Vermont’s annual operating budget. In 2012 donations increased to half the yearly budget – over $450,000. The Burlington plunge alone raised about $400,000 of the total, almost $15,000 more than 2011. In addition to funds, the number of plunge participants has also been steadily increasing, with over 1,300 total in 2012.

On a more international scale, Relay For Life events have raised over $3 billion to date for the American Cancer Society. Since the 1980s, teams of volunteers have been walking overnight, even up to 24 hours, to celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer, remember lost loved ones and fight back against the disease.

With cancer being something that effects nearly everyone in some way, Relay events have grown exponentially. They are more than just a fundraising event. They are a chance for people to join together in support. From its humble beginnings, there are now Relays taking place across thousands of communities, college campuses and military bases in 21 countries.

A third fundraising event example is brought to us every November by the Movember Foundation. Dedicated to raising vital awareness and funds for men’s health issues, specifically prostate and testicular cancer initiatives, Movember encourages men to grow mustaches throughout the month of November. Those who participate (called Mo Bros) “effectively become walking, talking billboards for the 30 days of November. Through their actions and words they raise awareness by prompting private and public conversation around the often ignored issue of men’s health.”


A more recent cause, Movember began in 2004 in Australia and New Zealand, but has since spread to 11 countries and raised over $299 million worldwide to date. Participants have also been on the rise every year, nearly doubling from 2010 (447,808) to 2011 (854,288) and breaking the million mark with 1.1 million Mo Bros in 2012. Though I was personally unable to participate in this particular fundraising event, I have the pleasure of being friends with a number of proud Mo Bros.

Though these are just a few examples of great fundraising events, there are thousands of others around the world that allow people to participate in a cause, take action, and raise awareness and support for something they believe in. So what are you waiting for? Take the plunge!


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