Derby Duck Fundraiser

Today the Marion County Rotary Club kicked off the 2024 Duck Season in Ocala, Florida! Our first Duck Derby Fundraiser of the year wouldn’t be the same without some weather-related issues, would it? The event was originally scheduled for Saturday, February 17th but had to be postponed to today, February 19th due to the rain.

The Marion Rotary Duck Derby is hosted in conjunction with the Ocala Cattle Drive, the annual festival celebrating Central Florida cattle history. The event consists of many exhibitors, a variety of food vendors, family friendly activities and much more! Unfortunately, Ocala had a 56% chance of rain on Saturday, so the Marion Rotary Duck Derby had to be postponed a few days later.

The proceeds raised from the Marion Rotary Duck Derby support the Discovery Center, a family-friendly science center that promotes interactive learning and encourages individuals to expand their knowledge, as well as many other charities supported by the Marion County Rotary Clubs. Over the past 5 years, the Marion Rotary Duck Derby has raised almost $30,000, and, including grants and sponsorships, over $200,000 for the Discovery Center alone!

In the end, all 5,000 ducks were adopted to raise money for the Discovery Center and other local charities in Ocala, Florida. A huge congratulations to the Marion County Rotary Club, Discovery Center and all the other parties involved who helped make this fundraiser a success, regardless of the weather and last-minute changes! Let’s hope that next year the sunshine will make an appearance on Duck Derby Day!

Thank you to all of our Derby Duck and Turbo Turtle fundraising partners! We appreciate the hard work you put into your events each year and all that you accomplish to help support your local communities. We hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at GAME. Below are some fun ways you can thank your sponsors, adopters, and community partners as well!

Duck season is starting to come to a close and the holidays are right around the corner. If you find yourself with some free time, now is the perfect time to start updating your Equack website before next year. Keep reading to discover some fun ways you can enhance your Equack website!

Add a Countdown Timer

Go to and personalize your own countdown timer for your Derby Duck Fundraising event. You can customize the font style, text color and background color. Once you create the timer, copy the embed code from the website. Be sure you are logged in to your Equack website. Go to Race Manager > Home Page Blocks > Add a New Home Page Block. Change the block type to raw html and name it. Then click add. From there you can paste the html from the website into the content field. Click update.

Add an Instagram Feed Box

Go to your Instagram account on your desktop computer. Click the 3 dots at the upper right-hand corner. Click “embed”. Click “copy embed code”. Go to your Equack website. Go to Race Manager > Home Page Blocks > Add a New Home Page Block. Change the block type to raw html and name it. Then click add. From there paste the code you copied into the content field. Click update.

Link an Image to Another Page

Use a website such as Canva to create a custom image and upload the image to your Equack website. Go to Race Manager > Home Page Blocks > Add a New Home Page Block. Change the block type to image/photo and name it. Then click add. Upload the image from your computer and put the URL to the page in the link field. Click update.

Add a Video Gallery

Go to Race Manager > Home Page Blocks > Add a New Home Page Block. Change the block type to video gallery and name it. From there you can copy and paste up to 3 video URLs from YouTube. You also have the option to change the header text color and the video gallery background color.

Add a Custom Prize Image

Use a website such as Canva to create a custom prize image and upload the image to your Equack website. Go to Race Manager > Home Page Blocks > Add a New Home Page Block. Change the block type to image/photo and name it. Then click add. Upload the image from your computer and click update.

In any fundraiser, volunteers are key in helping throughout the entire planning process of a fundraiser and a duck race is no exception. Whether they’re year round volunteers, students who need school volunteer hours or members of the community who want to give back, there are plenty of opportunities to offer which helps off-load some of the work of your full/part time staff.

Adoption Events: Volunteers are great for adoption events to help hand out marketing material, providing information about your race/organization and directing people on how they can adopt ducks online or in person at your table. Best practice would be to create an adoption event schedule with a sign up sheet based on 2-4 hour windows and how many volunteers you’ll need for each adoption event.

Tagging Party: Depending on the size of your race, having at least 8-10 volunteers for every 5,000 ducks that need to be tagged are suggested, based on a 2 hour tagging party. The key to having your tagging party run as seamless as possible is having separate groups of volunteers removing the current tags on the ducks and another group placing your designated tags on the ducks. If it’s a longer time frame for the tagging party, offer snacks, soft drinks and throw on some music. Although the task can be tedious, who says your tagging party can’t be fun?

Clean Up Crew: The last tasks at hand before you send your ducks on their way, is to clean them up. Have a group of volunteers on the sidelines ready to collect your ducks once your winners are found. Some racers use pool skimmers and others (if the water is shallow enough) have used laundry baskets to scoop the ducks out of the water and get them back into the totes. Be sure to give your volunteers a briefing on how the ducks need to be packed so they’re best prepared on how to clean and pack them up.

*We know putting on a fundraiser can be an all hands on deck kind of work, be sure to send your volunteers a thank you card to show your appreciation after you race.

Summer has been heating up and so has Derby Duck fundraising season! The Rockland Duck Derby was the first fundraising event to kickoff the month, and a new race as well! They adopted over 4700 ducks their first year which is quite the feat! This week more duck races in Chicago, Reno, and Idaho Falls will take place. Keep reading to learn about the rest of our upcoming fundraising events in the month of August!

August 10 – Chicago Ducky Derby

The Chicago Ducky Derby is a signature fundraising event for Special Olympics Illinois. This year, a minimum of 100,000 rubber ducks will race to the finish line. The winners of the ducky derby will receive prizes, including a 2024 Chevy Trax, four lifetime passes to Six Flags Great America, a Royal Caribbean cruise, and more! All proceeds from this event benefit the athletes of Special Olympics Illinois. This year’s event includes a two part family festival, a watch party, and of course the ducky derby!

August 12 – Nevada Humane Society Duck Race

Nevada Humane Society has been partnering with GAME for over 10 years and growing their race steadily in return. Last year they raced over 47,000 ducks, and we can’t wait to see how many ducks they race in 2023. All proceeds from their event benefit the animals of the Nevada Humane Society – cats, dogs, rabbits and guinea pigs too! Race day begins at 10 am and includes tons of fun activities including live music, a beer garden, fun games for kids, vendor booths, and the duck launch!

August 12 – Great Snake River Greenbelt Duck Race

The 32nd Annual Great Snake River Greenbelt Duck Race kicks off on Friday, August 11 with a pre-duck race event including a classic car cruise, poker run, live music and dinner! Saturday marks the day of the race where festivities will take place from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm ending with the duck race along the river greenbelt. Over the past 31 years, the Rotary Club has raised more than $6 million through duck adoptions, with matched funds by the City of Idaho Falls. For the past six years, the funds have gone toward the development of the city’s newest park along the river walk – Heritage Park.

On August 19, at least 10,000 rubber ducks will race down the course at Highland Park in Endwell, New York. Proceeds from every duck adoption will go to the Broome County Humane Society, an animal welfare organization dedicated to the prevention of animal cruelty and finding permanent, loving homes for companion animals. The Humane Society services the community by sheltering animals, finding them homes, investigating reports of animal cruelty, educating people of all ages and rescuing animals from life threatening situations.

August 19 – Blue Ridge Duck Race

Established in 2005, the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Blue Ridge serves the children of Martinsville and Henry Counties in Virginia through their exceptional afterschool and summer programs. The proceeds from their 8th annual duck race will support these programs and continue to provide the children who participate in safe and nurturing learning environments with caring professionals from the community. The duck race is one of the club’s most significant fundraisers and symbolizes the support of the community and their efforts to empower all young people to reach their fullest potential in life.

August 26 – Center for Prevention of Abuse Duck Race

This year marks the 35th Annual Duck Race for CFPA – their longest running and signature fundraising event. In 2022 they raised more than $200,000 for survivors of abuse in their community and sold out of all 30,000 ducks! This year they are racing 35,000 ducks and definitely plan to sell out again! CFPA provides free and confidential services to victims of human trafficking, domestic violence, sexual abuse, sexual assault, elder abuse, and offers violence prevention education to students helping to prevent abuse before it begins in the tri-county area, reaching more than 38,000 young people each year.

August 31 – Gwinnett Duck Derby

The 9th Annual Gwinnett Duck Derby will be a virtual event again this year on Facebook live. As the largest fundraising event for the Rotary Club of Sugarloaf, net proceeds of more than $100,000 have benefited many local charities in the community including the Special Needs School of Gwinnett, Lawrenceville Boys & Girls Club, Annandale Village, Gwinnett Medical Center Foundation, Rainbow Village, Gwinnett County Library Foundation, Gwinnet Tech, Because One Matters, Nothing but the Truth Food Ministry, and several title I schools in Gwinnett County.

Recently we’ve gotten questions about next steps from some of our newer racers. Here are the tasks you’ll want tackle after your new racer workshop.

Completing these items will be your main priority until you get to duck season, which starts 6 weeks before your Derby Duck Fundraiser. During duck season you’ll focus on acquiring both online and hand-to-hand adoptions and marketing your event in the community.

Feel free to reach out to your GAME team members with any questions you may have!

It’s officially springtime so you know what that means – it’s race season! Ocala, Brevard, Naples, Tampa, and Ft. Lauderdale were the first cities to kick off the beginning of the derby duck fundraising season. Keep reading to learn more about the rest of our upcoming fundraising events in the month of April!

April 15 – Second Harvest Food Bank

Second Harvest Food Bank is excited to host their second Acadiana Duck Derby in Louisiana on April 15th. Second Harvest leads the fight against hunger in South Louisiana by providing food access, advocacy, education, and disaster response. They provide food and support to 700+ community partners and programs across 23 parishes. All proceeds from the Acadiana Duck Derby benefit Second Harvest Food Bank and their work fighting hunger every day across Acadiana!

April 22 – Partners for Quality

All proceeds from the Steel City Duck Derby benefit the Partners For Quality family of nonprofit agencies. The family fun event includes games, music, food, face painting and more! Headquartered in McKees Rocks, Partners For Quality provides administrative management for organizations that serve individuals with intellectual & developmental disabilities and behavioral health challenges.

April 29 – Kiwanis Incredible Duck Splash

The 2023 Duck Splash will be the 18th Year for the KIDS! The Annual Kiwanis Incredible Duck Splash proceeds benefit numerous youth oriented non-profit organizations, programs, activities and schools throughout the city of Glendale and other communities of Los Angeles County. More than $1,200,000 has gone back into community programs benefitting local children and youth!

April 29 – Ken-Ducky Derby

This year marks the 20th Annual Ken-Ducky Derby for Harbor House of Louisville! It is their largest fundraiser of the year and at least 45,000 rubber ducks will race in the Ohio River. All proceeds from the Ken-Ducky Derby go towards helping to empower individuals with disabilities and their families to lead fulfilled and productive lives.

April 30 – Hope Floats Duck Race

For 19 years, Hope Floats Duck Race has brought KinderMourn families together to raise money to help others traveling the same road. This one-of-a-kind event at the Whitewater Center brings together people of all ages to watch thousands of rubber ducks rush through the rapids and share a meaningful afternoon where HOPE FLOATS and loved ones are honored. To date, the duck race has raised more than $2.5 million!

This past weekend, we kicked off the 2023 duck season in Ocala, Florida. Our Florida racers have had to face some weather challenges over the last few years, Hurricane Ian being the last one in 2022. Although not nearly as bad, the Marion Rotary Duck Derby had to make some last minute calls before the weekend due to rain and the cancellation of the Cattle Drive & Cowboy Roundup the derby was in conjunction with.

But we all know ducks don’t mind a little rain, so the show or should we say derby must go on! By the time the ducks were ready to race Saturday morning, all 5,000 ducks had been adopted benefitting the Discovery Center and other local charities.

We have to commend the hard work of the Marion County Rotary Club, Discovery Center and the other city entities involved who helped make it happen with all the last minute changes! Let’s hope sunshine will make an appearance next year!

Committee Organization​

Getting your staff, boards, and volunteers organized in correct roles is ​

crucial. To be efficient in the planning and execution of your fundraising event, GAME ​

suggests the following for the committee roles. We recommend a minimum of 2-3 people per ​committee.​

In many instances, an organization may select to combine two or three committees. It ​

is imperative that all committees understand they must work together and ​

communicate for the benefit of the rubber duck race. Often there will be some ​

crossover between two committees to finalize a particular aspect of the race.

Head Duck​

The Head Duck will oversee all aspects of the duck race and will make all​

decisions as it pertains to the structure, layout, and operations. The Head Duck ​

will communicate the needs of each committee to ensure a cooperative environment ​

in which the responsibilities and needs of each committee are being met. ​

  • Oversees all duck race committees​.
  • Capable of delegation and follow-up​.
  • The management and business leader.
  • Serves as the liaison between their organization and the GAME team.
  • Able to assemble quality committees, execute plans and meet deadlines​.
  • Skilled at recruiting and cultivating people best suited for the various key responsibilities​.

Sponsorship Chair

  • Requires a strong working knowledge of sponsorship acquisition​.
  • Oversees all sponsorship acquisition and is the main contact for sponsors ​.
  • Responsible for creating presentations for the media to solicit sponsor​s.
  • Capable of establishing sponsorship levels and the components involved​.
  • A background or understanding of marketing, advertising and promotion​.
  • Capable of contacting, negotiating, and closing media & sponsor deals​​.

Adoption Chair

  • Must have a sales background and sales experience​.
  • Secures adoption event dates and locations​.
  • Manages adoption event staff and volunteers.
  • Able to motivate teams to sell, distribute and collect adoptions​.
  • Able to recruit and cultivate volunteers to work at adoption events.
  • Collects adoption papers from adoption events and sponsor locations.

Equack Chair

  • Prior experience in database management and marketing​ is vital.
  • An advanced understanding of computer software and technology​.
  • Able to coordinate and train volunteers who will perform data entry.​
  • Works with GAME to setup and manage the online adoption website​.
  • Interface with the adoption committee chair, provides data of sales for meetings​.
  • Able to plan for week of event and race day sales, assigning tag ranges to teams and identifying race winners.

Logistics Chair

  • Experience with event production and assistance from volunteers and staff​.
  • Hands on person who is mechanically inclined, possessing strong organizational skills and execution​.
  • Able to execute a tagging party, provide manpower and a facility for transportation and storage of ducks.
  • Responsible for the race day event, including operations, manpower, venue coordination, race site and management, equipment, communication, racecourse design, test, trap, and post-race responsibilities​.
  • Responsible for post-race clean up, cleaning and organizing the ducks and getting them ready to ship the to the next race city.

Marketing & Social Media Chair

  • Plans and implements the digital marketing campaign for the duck race.
  • Creates new and engaging content to post on social media on a regular basis leading up to the event​.
  • Acknowledges and tags sponsors in social media posts as part of their sponsorship package​.
  • Communicates with GAME regarding their Facebook ad campaign and social media content.
  • In charge of posting to all social media accounts during duck season leading up to the duck race.

Organizing Your Volunteers​

Once you have organized your committees and identified the best chair for each committee, you will want to look at recruiting a few motivated volunteers to assist each chair. Make sure to identify the strengths of each person to ensure they are qualified and have the time to commit to the role. Once you have recruited volunteers, you should identify which committee is best for each person’s skill set.​

Derby Duck Fundraiser