Derby Duck Fundraiser For Nonprofits

Our blog, 2017 Racer Conference Highlights – Sponsorship Tips,  is the third part in a blog series highlighting tips from our Racer Conference in Scottsdale which we hosted in January of 2017.   Our clients who spoke gave some valuable takeaways on sponsorship acquisition.

2017 Racer Conference Highlights – Sponsorship Tips
  • For the First Meeting, Don’t Bring a Sponsorship Packet.  The first meeting you should find out all about the sponsor and what their needs are.   Put yourself in your sponsor’s shoes.  Furthermore, ask yourself questions such as: why the sponsor should partner with your nonprofit and what type of target market the sponsor will be able to reach through your event.  After you discover what the sponsor is looking for, you can tailor a sponsorship packet designed to fit their needs.  For example, a sponsor may want to increase traffic into his auto dealership and one way to do that would be to have a duck balloon in front of his dealership for two weeks prior to your duck race.
  • Do Your Research.  Find out what types of charities the CEO of a particular corporation supports.  In fact, LinkedIn can give you insights as to what causes a people are passionate about and what organizations they support.
  • Expand Your Sponsor List.  Take your sponsor list and break it down even further.  For example, if you have an auto dealership that is interested in sponsoring your event, look at contacting vendors who work with that auto dealership such as finance companies, body shops, detailing shops and auto parts stores.
  • Sponsor Photo Book.  Create a photo book that you can show your potential sponsors.  Besides including photos of your nonprofit and duck race, include “What a Duck Can Do” images, past sponsor photos, and statistics about your nonprofit and duck race.  Creating a book online will make it easier for you to update each year.
Lucky Ducky Race for Pace Photo Book
Other Sponsorship Tips
  • Corporate Quack Attacks.  Have your duck mascot surprise your sponsors with a Quack Attack.  Take a picture of your duck mascot and make sure to include the sponsor’s logo somewhere in the picture.
  • Sponsor Shout-outs on Social Media. Include sponsor shout-outs in your sponsorship proposal.  Think about creating a unique idea for the sponsor such as dedicating a specific day to the sponsor.  For example: “Trivia Tuesday is brought to you by Coffee House.  Answer the following question correctly and be entered to win a $10 gift card to Coffee House.”  Follow all of your sponsors on social media and interact with them which helps build a stronger relationship between your nonprofit and their business.
2017 Racer Conference Highlights - Sponsorship Tips - Sponsor Shoutout
Pace Center for Girls Sponsor Shoutout
  • Metrics.   You should evaluate the amount of exposure a sponsor receives from your duck race event.  Put together a comprehensive list of any exposure they received. Include any mentions of sponsors in social media posts, direct mail,  press releases, email blasts, and any marketing materials.

Our last blog in our racer conference series will feature tips on how nonprofits can reach out to millenials.

Nonprofits are continuing to use content marketing as a strategic marketing approach to distribute valuable content, attract audiences, and to ultimately drive action.

Here are some free tools to boost your nonprofit content marketing:

Make My Persona by Hubspot

You can easily develop customer personas and when you are done inputting your data, you are given a customer snapshot that you can reference for your marketing campaigns.

Yoast Plug In

The Yoast SEO WordPress Plug In is a great tool since it helps you keep your blog posts at a consistent length.  In addition, you are able to add keywords to your blog posts.

Hemingway App

This tool ensures that readability across your website remains consistent.  It will suggest how to make your content more readable and will breakdown how much of your content is hard or very hard to read.


A popular organizational platform that allows you to capture, nurture and share your ideas across any device.


You can create to-do cards that are easy to edit and prioritize which helps you manage projects, stay on task and collaborate on content in real time.

Google AdWords

Even if you aren’t planning on running a Google Adwords campaign, there are free tools to determine what keywords you should be using on your website to help with search engine optimization (SEO).


Allows anyone in your nonprofit to become a designer. You can create images for your website, blog, Facebook twitter, flyers, posters, invitations and so much more.


Create and publish interactive and engaging visual content such as charts and infographics.

Headline Analyzer

This tool will score your headline quality and rates its ability to drive social shares, traffic and SEO value.


MailChimp has a free email platform for up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 monthly emails.

Google Analytics

Allows you to analyze data across ads, videos, social tools, websites, tablets and smartphones to get a more complete view of your website visitors.

Share with us any tools that you use to help you with your content marketing strategy.


Our blog, 2017 Racer Conference Highlights – Tips for Teams,  is the second part in a blog series highlighting tips from our Racer Conference in Scottsdale which we hosted in January of 2017.   Our nonprofit clients gave some valuable insights about ways to increase duck adoptions through teams.

Racer Conference Highlights – Tips for Teams
  • Create Team Sales Kits.  At your kick-off party, hand out teams sales kits in a reusable bag. In the bag include a sales guide, adoption papers, duck merchandise and t-shirts.
  • Lunch and Learns.  Set up lunch and learn events at larger businesses in your community. Special Olympics Illinois has sold up to 400 ducks in one day during a lunch and learn.  Show a video about your organization and then have your Duck Ambassador speak about why you race ducks.  Have your duck mascot go around the offices and encourage people to get a photo with him
  • Lobby Events.  Set up duck adoption events in the lobbies of large corporate buildings.  Special Olympics Illinois gets businesses to form teams for these duck adoption events.  The teams get competitive and compete for bragging rights.
2017 Racer Conference Highlights - Tips for Teams - Lobby Events
Special Olympics Illinois Duck Adoption Lobby Event
  • Board Member Challenge.   PACE Center for Girls in Manatee, Florida created a fun Celebrity Bartending event at a local restaurant who is a retail partner.  Board members challenged each other for tips.
  • Team Challenge.  Challenge teams to win prizes by posting on social media that between a specific time period, the team with the most online adoptions will win their choice of a gift card.
Other Tips for Teams
  • Duck Buddies.  If you are a Kiwanis Club, you can ask local nonprofits if they would like to become a duck buddy and help sell duck adoptions.  In return, these duck buddies will receive a certain percentage from each duck adopted.
  • Duck Street Teams.  The Austin Boys and Girls Club Foundation encouraged people to sign up for Duck Street Teams.  Street Team volunteers helped post event flyers at local businesses in the community.  As a result of signing up for the Duck Street team, they received a t-shirt, duck swag, and a gift card.
2017 Racer Conference Highlights - Tips for Teams - Duck Street Team
Boys & Girls Club of Austin Duck Street Team Announcement
  • Post Duck Team Party.  Consider having a party after your duck race where you recognize the top sales people with gift cards.
  • Retired people Make Great Salespeople.  The Olympic Medical Center Foundation in Port Angeles, WA has discovered that people who have recently retired make great sales people and retirees have many friends they can sell duck adoptions to!

We will have future blogs featuring highlights from our racer conference in January of 2017.  Keep checking back to our blog for future highlights.

Your nonprofit website is one of the most important fundraising tools you have.  A successful online strategy is one that attracts visitors to your website, engages them with content, and has a call to action.

Here are 6 nonprofit website mistakes and how to fix them:
  1. No contact information.  Make it easy for website users to find your nonprofit’s phone number, email address or contact form.
  2. No Mission and vision.  Who are you and what makes you stand out? Make your vision and mission visible so that donors can understand how their donation will make a difference.
  3. Donate call to action button is missing.  Don’t bury your donation link or button at the bottom of your website. It should be on the top of the page so visitors do not have to scroll down to see it.  Use a branded donation form instead of a generic form and make sure that the form integrates with your CRM software.
  4. Your latest news is not featured.  Have a specific place to share your latest news, upcoming events or volunteer opportunities.  You can also include this information in a blog.  Show visually compelling images of people benefitting from your services and show the impact of your work.
  5. Your website is not mobile responsive.  A responsive website automatically adjusts to fit onto smaller mobile screens. As more people access the web with their phones, it is imperative that your website is set up in mobile responsive design.  The number of smartphone users worldwide will surpass 2 billion in 2016 and is projected to grow to 6.1 billion by 2020.
  6. No social media links or a newsletter sign up.  Provide social media links to make it easy for supporters to share your content.  Ensure that your newsletter sign-up process is a simple and seamless.

Your website has to offer real value to your visitors and that is how you will build traffic and get people to return your website.   How have you recently upgraded your website to make it more user friendly? Let us know!


Our blog, 2017 Racer Conference Highlights – Staying Relevant is the first in a blog series highlighting tips from our Racer Conference in Scottsdale which we hosted in January of 2017.   Besides learning from our guest speakers, we had some open forum discussions to allow everyone to share their success stories and get new ideas.  Our blog this week features highlights on how to have your duck race stay relevant year after year.

2017 Racer Conference Highlights – Staying Relevant 
  • Build and Maintain Relationships with Media.  Get local media outlets involved in some friendly competition a few weeks before your race which provides additional exposure for your race.  Our racer in Cincinnati, Freestore Foodbank, invites local media channels to their annual Quacky Games. The Games take place during the lunch hour and participants get involved in all kinds of sport activities. Freestore Foodbank also gets great media coverage about their race.
2017 Racer Conference Highlights - Staying Relevant Quacky Games
Freestore Food Bank Quacky Games
  • Rolling Press Conference.  Create a fact sheet highlighting your race and then send that fact sheet to different media outlets.  Tell them that you will be at a specified location during a certain time period. Make sure to have duck swag in the car (the 12-inch duck, duck sunglasses, duck hats) and food such as doughnuts decorated with duck sprinkles or duck shaped cookies. You can also ask a media reporter to become your Honorary Co-Chair of your duck race.  If you have a Quacky mascot, make sure that he is available to make an appearance.  The media will cover you if you make it easy for them.
Media Rolling Press Conference
Media Rolling Press Conference
  • Call to Action. Be consistent each year with your call to action.  The Freestore Foodbank’s call to action each year is the following: Buy a Duck, Win a Car, Feed a Child.
  • Team Sales Kits.  Give teams the tools they need to be successful in selling duck adoptions.  Create a team sales kit complete with adoption papers, posters, ducks, t-shirts, and other fun duck merchandise.
  • Encourage Last Minute Adoptions.  Send a thank you postcard 10 days out from your race with your duck adoption website address and a call to action.
2017 Racer Conference Highlights - Staying Relevant New Orleans Thank you
Second Harvest Food Bank Rubber Duck Derby Thank You Postcard
  • Fresh Design Each Year.  Create a new duck race design each year to keep your duck race fresh.  Make sure that you are consistent with branding and messaging.
  • Have Fun and Try New Things. Think of new ways to get the word out about your race.  Freestore Foodbank created a Quacky’s Club this past year for children.  Parents could download a line art picture of Quacky which kids could then color.  Each week, different pictures were featured on their Facebook page.  Play Where’s Little Quacky with your fans. Post pictures of a racing duck in different locations and have people guess the location to be entered to win a free duck adoption.

We will have future blogs featuring highlights from our racer conference in January of 2017.  Keep checking back to our blog for future highlights.

Branding is often associated with huge corporations but a powerful brand is important to nonprofits as well. In addition, your brand is your identity and the way people feel about your nonprofit, what they talk about when you come up in conversation and your overall reputation in the nonprofit world. As the nonprofit landscape gets increasingly competitive, it is essential to brand yourself by clearly communicating your nonprofit’s focus, credibility and unique contributions.

Here are 4 ways to brand your nonprofit:

1. Build a positioning statement and tagline
First of all, decide what your message is. Why are you passionate about what you do, what do you stand for and what makes you unique?  For a local recreation center, it could be: Creating brighter futures for children of Phoenix, AZ.  With each communication,  ask yourself: does this show how we create brighter futures?

Next determine your tagline which is a catchy phrase that creates emotion and captures your mission.  An example could be: Happy Kids. Happy Futures. Consistent tagline use helps your audience connect with your message.  Here are some guidelines for creating a strong nonprofit tagline.

Our nonprofit partner, Pace Center for Girls, uses this tagline: “Changing lives, one girl at a time. ”

Pace Center for Girls tagline

2. Visual consistency
Make sure that your logo and brand colors are used across all marketing channels including social media, website, newsletters, emails and press releases.

3. Get everyone on board
Make sure that your staff, board members and volunteers know your message and share it with others. Your staff and board of directors must reflect your value at all times and be willing to stand behind your brand.

4. Develop your key messages
Create messages that your audience connect with and recognize. Share what you do and why it is special, and give your audience a clear understanding of your story. Most importantly, be personable and compelling. As you create your key messages it is also helpful to go back to your positioning statement.

It is more important than ever to brand your organization by clearly communicating your organization’s story and to establish your credibility. A brand is you, your mission and the impact you hope to make on the world. How are some ways you brand your nonprofit? Let us know! 

While the digital landscape is changing daily there is one thing that remains constant, the need for compelling images in storytelling.  Whether you are sharing news, educating about your nonprofit’s cause, fundraising, recruiting volunteers, or recognizing your donors,  visual content is a defining factor in helping your audience connect with your organization and your mission.  You don’t need to be a graphic designer to create engaging and captivating images to promote your nonprofit and your Derby Duck Race! You can design visual images like a pro by using Canva.  It is a great online tool that is free and makes creating beautiful graphics easy for everyone on your nonprofit staff.

design visual images such as blog images
Blog Graphic created in Canva
Why do visuals matter?
  • The brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than text.
  • We can understand a visual scene in 1/10 of a second.
  • Visuals draw us in and help us understand content faster and 87% of a Facebook page’s engagement happens on photo posts.
  • According to Buffer, adding images to your tweets in Twitter will result in 18% more clicks, 89% more favorites, 150% more retweets.
design visual images such as infographics
Sample Infographic created in Canva
Features included in Canva: 
  • Layouts of all types. You don’t have to google the best size for your Facebook cover photo.  If there is a specific size you need, you can make your own custom dimensions.
  • You can create website images, infographics, presentations, posters, thank you cards, social media posts, and letterhead and numerous other designs.
  • Access to 1 million stock images you can drag and drop. Many are free, some are $1.00.
  • Easily save, download and share images. (jpg, png, pdf standard and pdf print).
  • Auto saves all of your designs.
  • Create photo collages in minutes.
  • Canva for Iphone App – Try the app on your Iphone which includes the sames features of the Canva desktop version for creating visuals using your phone.
design visual images such as motivational quotes
Sample Quote Graphic created in Canva

There is also a Canva for Work paid option which you can sign up for that will allow you to resize your images in different formats for blog, Facebook ad, Twitter post and other formats.  Canva for Nonrprofits is a free subscription version for nonprofits that includes more enhanced features.

Do you have an online design tool that you could not live without?  We’d love to hear about it!

Happy New Year racers! With just a few days left of 2016, it’s time to start thinking about your resolutions for 2017.  Resolutions are all about making yourself better – but why can’t that include your nonprofit?  Pick a few resolutions that we have listed down below that resonate with you and incorporate them in your duck race planning for next year.

Here is a list of resolutions related to your rubber duck race:
  • Complete and return all of my racer forms by the deadline.
  • Create team sales kits to motivate teams to meet their goals. Include duck adoption papers, sample emails, social media posts, sales tips, and duck merchandise.
  • Schedule a duck race kick-off party two months prior to your race at a local restaurant.
  • Increase online Duck Adoption Sales by 15%.
  • Post all year long about your race on social media, not just during race season. Ask trivia questions about your race or nonprofit and award a small prize for the person who answers correctly.
  • Create a simple hashtag for your race to use on social media, your duck adoption website and marketing materials (for example: #chicagoduckrace).
  • Get the media’s attention by wrapping a press release around a duck call, sending duck shaped cookies or having Quacky help with the weather forecast.
  • Tell the story of why you race rubber ducks with a photo book that you show potential sponsors. Chatbooks allows you to create a photo book for just $8 including shipping.
  • Implement a “What a Duck Can Do” campaign to let your fans know exactly what their donations do for your nonprofit.
  • Make an extra effort to ensure the racing ducks are sparkling clean before they travel to the next race.
  • Like GAME Fundraising’s Facebook Page and Twitter Page to keep up to date on racer news and other nonprofit tips.
  • Read the GAME Fundraising Blog for ideas on promoting your race and to learn the latest nonprofit news.
  • If possible, visit another race and learn about their organization.
  • Contact another duck racer to share ideas. GAME can put you in contact with someone.
  • After the race, sit down with my duck race committee and discuss ways to improve the race with my nonprofit and with GAME.

Share any of your Duck Race Resolutions with us on Facebook! Wishing everyone a successful 2017 Duck Race Season!


Every one of GAME’s nonprofit partners and rubber duck races are unique and different in their own way. This allows us to learn different perspectives on different ways to host this type of fundraiser.  This month our blog features a Duck Racer Spotlight on Kennewick, WA and the Tri-Cities Rotary Club.

Organization Name: The Tri-Cities Rotary Club

Years Racing with GAME: 28

Head Duck: Rick Routh (2016)

Duck racer spotlight on Kennewick, WA race poster

Tell us a little bit about your organization and why you are racing Derby Ducks:

Our Race is put on by the combined effort of our six local Rotary Clubs to raise funds to support each Club’s charitable donations, scholarship programs and community projects. All six of our Rotary Clubs sell tickets and are involved in all aspects of planning the Derby Duck Race.

What is your favorite part of planning a Derby Duck Race?

Experiencing the enthusiasm and generosity of our community when we approach them for the various goods and services we need to put on our Race.

Do you have any duck race tips you would share with a first time racer?

Involve the community and make it a spectacle. Launching 40,000 ducks in the water is quite a visual.  Otherwise, it’s just a raffle.

Duck racer spotlight on Kennewick, WA duck adoption event

How do you keep your race fresh and new year after year?

After 28 years now, our Race has become something of an institution in our community, with people looking forward to it almost like the coming of Spring. The fact that we have a brand new car as our Grand Prize and typically almost 50 other prizes, plus other coupon offers on our tickets for items at local businesses also keeps people buying tickets year after year.

Duck racer spotlight on Kennewick, WA car prize

What is something some people might not know about your organization and/or Derby Duck Race?

The money raised by our Race stays in our community to make it a better place to live and to help those individuals who are in need.

What are some organizational goals you are trying to achieve with your Derby Duck Race?

Fundraising and promoting the work of Rotary locally and around the world.

What is your favorite phrase or quote?

Lend a hand, buy a duck (our Race slogan)

What is your favorite Ducktionary Phrase?

Quackerbacker. We have several recognition levels for people/companies purchasing 25, 50, 100 or more tickets.

Search Engine Optimization may seem complicated, but it doesn’t need to be. By shifting your focus to the customer experience and researching your target audience,  you can increase your ranking on Google and drive more traffic to website.  Below are 3 easy SEO strategies for nonprofits that your staff  or website developer can implement to help your online presence.


Take the time and research the most popular and relevant keywords that apply to your nonprofit website. Think about your target audience and what they enter in web searches to find your nonprofit website.  The Google Adwords Keyword Tool is a free resource that we would recommend. Choose 3 to 5 keywords and assign them to each page on your website.  Make sure that they appear as much as possible in your content and headline copy.

Title Tags and Meta Descriptions

Your title tags and meta descriptions are what show up in when a person enters a search query.  The title tag is the top heading that appears and is limited to 50-60 characters.  The title tag needs to be concise, describe page content accurately, and incorporate a couple of keywords.  The meta description appears below the title tag, includes your key words, and summarizes a web page’s content.   The description should optimally be between 150-160 characters.

easy SEO strategy for nonprofits with meta description

Alt Image Tags

Alt image tags are descriptions of the images you use on your website.  They help significantly with traffic to your site because it tells the search engines what the image is about. Search engines can’t read images without text.  Not labeling images creates a poor user experience for people who have disabled images in their browsers or for visually impaired people. If you use your keywords as part of your description it helps even more to increase your SEO.  A recommended rule of thumb is to keep the alt image tag description under 125 characters excluding spaces.

Implementing these easy SEO strategies will help increase your ranking in Google and make it easier for supporters to find you.  Share with us any other easy strategies you use to boost your nonprofits SEO.

Derby Duck Fundraiser For Nonprofits