Learning from our Derby Duck Racers – Des Moines, IA

Game Events Derby Duck Race, Fundraising, Fundraising Community


Last month we had the opportunity to visit one of our Derby Duck racers in Des Moines, IA to experience how they pull together a successful duck race event. Here’s some great duck tips that we learned from the Youth Emergency Services & Shelter (YESS) during the 2015 YESS Duck Derby.

      • YESS has great volunteer support. From the tagging party to adoption events to race day, YESS was overflowing with volunteers. Make sure you show appreciation for your volunteers. YESS provides different colored t-shirts. Grey was worn during pre-race events and red was worn on race day. YESS staff wore pink to distinguish themselves to help find each other easily on race day. YESS also had volunteers of all ages. It was great to see younger children get out there to show their support and help the cause. It was also a great way for younger children to practice their interpersonal skills by telling others about the event.
      • At adoption events don’t lead off with “Would you like to Adopt a Duck?” Instead, ask if they have heard about the duck derby and your organization first. Explain what your organization does first, then explain why you are out adopting ducks. End with “We are accepting duck adoptions today, would you like to participate.” This is better for the potential adopter to hear than an upfront donation request. Remember, it’s a conversation not a sales pitch.
      • Teams! YESS had very competitive teams and always encouraged them. YESS sent out Quacky to each team location to get them motivated and pumped to Adopt Ducks. YESS also awarded a special purple t-shirt for top selling team members who reached a certain goal that they could wear to different events. YESS allowed the captain of the winning team to help launch the ducks on race day. One of the team prizes was a “Jeans Day” for members who sold a certain amount of ducks. A lot of teams seemed to enjoy that prize, and it’s a prize that does not cost anything to your organization.
      • Prior to race day, YESS sent out an email blast and social media post labeled “10 things you don’t want to miss on race day!” Some items on this list included outdoor activities, mascots, duck gear, and Chuck-a-Duck. See their newsletter here: http://myemail.constantcontact.com/See-You-Saturday-.html?soid=1110153312425&aid=b3YJ4X6WYNk
      • Add numerous yard signs around your site that thank specific sponsors. Since YESS’s race was on a man-made lake, they had signs around the lake along the sidewalk.
      • Make sure Quacky has an escort. Quacky will get stopped all day at the race and at other events to say hi to duck fans. An escort is nice to have to keep Quacky moving along so he doesn’t get stuck in one spot and can see more fans.

Although the weather was a little chilly with a little rain, the event was ducktacular filled with hundreds of duck fans. YESS sold out and adopted all 35,000 ducks up until an hour before their race. Overall, YESS raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for their shelter. To learn more about YESS, you can visit their website, http://www.yessiowa.org/ and see how they help thousands of youths in crisis in the state of IOWA.