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FAQ

General Event Questions
Donations/Fundraising Questions
Day of Plunge Questions
Website Questions
Website Features
Online Account Questions
Miscellaneous Questions

General Event Questions

What is the Polar Bear Plunge?
The Polar Bear Plunge (presented by Minnesota law enforcement as part of the year-round fundraising of Law Enforcement Torch Run® events to benefit Special Olympics) is a unique opportunity for individuals, organizations and businesses to support Special Olympics athletes by jumping into frigid Minnesota waters. During the months of January through March, there are 16 opportunities across the state to take the Plunge and be freezin' for a reason: to support Special Olympics Minnesota athletes!

What is the minimum amount that I need to raise to participate in the event?
All Plungers must raise a minimum of $75. If Plunging as a team, the team must raise at least $75 per person.

What incentives are available to participants who raise more than the minimum $75?
Incentives are distributed at the following levels:

  • $75
  • $200
  • $400
  • $750
  • $1000
  • $1500

Please note that if you prefer an incentive that is lower than what you earned (for example, you earned $1,000 but want the incentive for the $750 level), you'll be able to request the lower item when you check in.

How deep is the water?
Each Plunge location is different, but we try our best to cut the hole in an area so that Plungers only need to go in waist deep. If you want to go all the way under water, it's up to you — bend your knees!

How old do you have to be to Plunge?
We do not have an age requirement to participate in a Polar Bear Plunge. During the registration process, all Plunge participants must approve the waiver, and participants under the age of 18 are required to have a parent or guardian present at the event, and they must also approve the waiver. Young children are welcome to participate, but that decision is left to the sole discretion of the child's parent or guardian.

Where can I change before and after I Plunge?
We provide separate heated changing tents for men and women. Law enforcement personnel will be at the entrance to monitor the area, but please note that neither the event committee nor Special Olympics Minnesota are responsible for personal belongings left inside the tent that are lost or stolen during the course of the event. Leave items at your own risk.

What do I wear to Plunge?
Pretty much whatever you want, but keep these things in mind:

  • Wet suits are highly discouraged. Wear one and folks cheering from the sidelines probably won't be cheering for you!
  • Shoes are required. Wear something that straps onto your foot and won't fall off when you jump into the water.
  • Costumes are highly encouraged!
  • Inappropriate bathing suits or costumes are not permitted. Remember, this is a family event! Event staff and law enforcement personnel have the right to ask participants to change their costumes in order to participate in the event.

Is alcohol allowed at Plunges?
Alcohol is not permitted at the Plunge site. If you are intoxicated, law enforcement will not allow you to Plunge.

Are the Plunge incentives for sale?
We do not sell any of our Plunge incentives because we feel it is a privilege for those who participate and have earned the various incentive levels. If we do have a large amount of incentives left at the end of the season, we'll make the items available online.

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Donations/Fundraising Questions

Who should checks be written out to?
Checks can be written out to "Special Olympics Minnesota" or "SOMN."

I want to pledge online, but your website isn't secure.
Actually, we do have a valid secure socket layer (SSL) certificate installed on the website. All the transactions are encrypted by a company called PositiveSSL. We have a couple elements on our pages that bypass the certificate, which is why it looks like the site isn't secure. We use these elements for tracking website statistics. They don't collect any financial or personal information.

How can I make a donation without submitting my credit card online?
You can make a donation by calling us at 612-604-1280 (toll-free: 800-783-7732 ext. 280) and leaving a voicemail message; we'll return your call as soon as possible so you can give us your information over the phone. You can also bring or give your chosen Plunger a check (written out to "Special Olympics Minnesota" or "SOMN") or cash donation, which you/they will then turn in at the event. You can also mail in your donation to the address below. Be sure to include the Plunger's name so we know who to give credit to.

Special Olympics Minnesota
Attn: Polar Bear Plunge
100 Washington Avenue South
Suite 550
Minneapolis, MN 55401

Does Special Olympics Minnesota issue refunds?
Charitable contributions are non-refundable, and the minimum Plunge fundraising requirement is considered a charitable contribution and is therefore also non-refundable.

Are donations tax deductible?
Yes!

Is there a pledge form that I can download to give to people who might want to sponsor me?
Yes! The Plunge brochure (PDF) includes this form.

My company offers matching gifts. If I get my personal contribution to the Plunge matched, does that count towards my fundraising total, and how do I go about getting credit for it?
Matching gifts are a great way to raise additional funds for your Plunge. As long as we receive the matching gift BEFORE the Plunge, we will give you credit for the donation and add it to your fundraising total. All you need to do is complete a request with your employer. They will have us verify your donation and will send us the matching funds if we qualify under their giving qualifications.

Will my supporters automatically receive a receipt, or do I need to request them?
Special Olympics Minnesota automatically generates thank you letters and donation receipts for anyone who contributes $25 or more by check or money order and for whom we have complete and accurate contact information (name, mailing address). All donations that are made online via credit card will automatically receive a thank you letter and donation receipt via email — this is the only receipt they will receive for that donation. Cash contributions that are not specifically credited to a particular donor will not automatically receive receipts. If you would like a receipt for a cash donation, you can ask a volunteer when you check in for a cash receipt.

I can't collect all my pledges before the Plunge. What do I do?
As long as you have the minimum $75 by the time of the Plunge, you'll be able to participate, and the remaining funds can be turned in later. We can only register you and provide an incentive for the amount of money you bring with you to the Plunge and/or was processed online before the Plunge. If you receive donations after the Plunge, you can mail them to the address below. Please include your name and Plunge location so we can give you credit.

Special Olympics Minnesota State Office
Attn: Polar Bear Plunge
100 Washington Avenue South
Suite 550
Minneapolis, MN 55401

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Day of Plunge Questions

How long does check-in take?
Our goal is to check in every participant quickly so that everyone can enjoy the event. We're taking the steps necessary to ensure that we have enough volunteers available and that the registration process is as smooth as possible the day of the event. However, no system is perfect, and we cannot guarantee that you will not wait in line. We apologize in advance for any delays you might experience, and we ask for your patience and understanding. We tend to experience a very high volume of registration traffic in a relatively short time frame; we will do our best to create an efficient system, but unfortunately cannot estimate wait times. If available, we recommend attending a pre-registration event to make the entire process easier for you.

Am I guaranteed to receive my incentive when I check in?
No. We do our best to order enough incentives to cover all the Plungers who participate, but if there is a large increase in Plunge registrations, we may not have everyone's incentives available on site. If you do not receive your incentives the day of the Plunge, they will be mailed to you as soon after the event as possible. Be sure that you provide your current information when registering and that it is legible in case this situation arises. Incentives will be determined based on the amount of money turned in on the day of the Plunge combined with any funds raised online.

What are some tips to make check-in go faster?

  • Register online.
  • If you do not register online, have a Plunge brochure (PDF) completely and clearly filled out.
  • If one is available, attend a pre-registration event.
  • Arrive early and help alleviate the congestion expected 1-2 hours prior to the Plunge.
  • When possible, contact us prior to arriving at registration with questions about online pledges or issues regarding registration. If questions arise that day, we will do our best to help you with them in a timely manner.
  • If one is available, attend a pre-registration event.

I have raised pledges both online and offline with cash and checks. How will the volunteers at Plunge check in know how much I have raised?
At the on-site Plunge check in and pre-registration events, volunteers and staff will have a list of all Plungers registered online including the total amount of pledges they have received online up to two days prior to the event. If you have received donations within the two days prior to the event, please print off a copy of your personal Plunge Web page so that we can verify your total. We will gladly accept pledges after the event has passed, but incentives will be determined based on the amount raised prior to the event. Any late pledges can be sent to the address below. Please include your name and Plunge location.

Special Olympics Minnesota State Office
Attn: Polar Bear Plunge
100 Washington Avenue South
Suite 550
Minneapolis, MN 55401

Can I trade my incentive after the event?
Incentives are given out based on what your fundraising total is on the day of the event. Any funds turned in after the event will still go towards you fundraising total, but will not change your incentive. Plungers cannot change their incentive after the event.

Can I pre-register before the event to avoid waiting in lines?
Many of the Plunges offer a pre-registration event a day or two prior to the Plunge. Check out your specific Plunge location's Web page for details. Pre-registration events are most beneficial for those who have completed their fundraising efforts and who wish to turn their donations in and receive their incentive. If you still have fundraising left to do and want to earn a higher incentive level, you should wait until the day of the Plunge to check in.

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Website Questions

Where can I download a Plunge brochure and other Plunge Materials?
Plunge brochures, team packets, team and individual fundraising tool kits, and more are all available on the Plunge website homepage as well as listed on each individual Plunge's web page.

Do all team members need to register online?
Yes. In order to be a part of a team, you must register online and join that team. If you register the day of the Plunge, you will be considered an individual. You will still be able to Plunge with your group, but your fundraising efforts and records will be listed as an individual.

I accidentally registered twice. What should I do?
In order to properly track your online pledges, it is best that you only have one online registration record per Plunge location. If you accidentally registered twice, please log in to one of your accounts and, under the "My Account" tab, select Delete Account.

I forgot my username and/or password, what do I do?
Use the online Forgot Username or Password tool on the login page. You'll be asked to answer your security question and then we'll email you a link that will allow you to choose a new password. This message will be sent to the email account you used to sign up for the Plunge. Still having trouble? Email polarbearplunge@somn.org with your name and contact information.

Can team members share an online donation?
Donations made online cannot be split between team members. However, cash and check donations can be distributed among team members however you choose.

I don't know the location at which my friend will Plunge, but I want to donate to them. What do I do?
You can search for Plungers on the Find Plunger/Team page.

What are the benefits of registering online?
Registering online allows you to create your own individual and team Web pages, accept credit card pledges online, track your pledges, send out online pledge requests and thank-you messages to friends and family, and send out invitation emails for people to join your team. You can also indicate the incentive that you hope to achieve so that we can better ensure the size and availability of each item. Online registrants also receive access to Plunge update emails and various online fundraising contests. Registering online also greatly helps us at Plunge Headquarters so we can plan accordingly on incentive items and Plunge day-of activities.

Will I be able to see pictures from the Plunge online after the event?
Yes! Pictures will be available in the Flickr account after the Plunges are complete. We'd also love for you to share your pictures online. Become our friend on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or subscribe to us on YouTube and upload your pictures and videos!

How do I send emails to ask for donations, ask other to join my team, or thank donors?
The email tool through our Plunge system can be helpful, but we can't guarantee that the email won't go to your recipient's spam folder. To be sure your emails are being received, we recommend you send requests through your own personal email account. A sample email template can be seen here.

If you still prefer to use the "Spread the Word" function: Log into your account. Under the My Account drop-down menu, choose Spread the Word. You can then select whether you want to send out a Thank You, Donation Request, or Join My Team email message. Choose or enter email addresses, edit the default text however you'd like, then submit. Again, please be aware that the emails can sometimes go to recipients' spam/junk folders.

I don't want to use the online fundraising program. Can I still participate?
Yes! You can download a Plunge brochure (PDF), and we would be happy to mail you additional copies if you need them. Requests can be sent to polarbearplunge@somn.org.

I want to pledge online, but your website isn't secure.
Actually, we do have a valid secure socket layer (SSL) certificate installed on the website. All the transactions are encrypted by a company called PositiveSSL. We have a couple elements on our pages that bypass the certificate, which is why it looks like the site isn't secure. We use these elements for tracking website statistics. They don't collect any financial or personal information.

What's your privacy policy?
Read our Privacy Policy page.

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Website Features

Thermometers
Thermometers are shown on each individual page, team page, and on the Plunge homepage to show current fundraising achievements for you and/or your team. Whenever someone joins a team, their personal goal will be included in the team goal. All thermometers include amounts raised only through online donations. The Plunge homepage thermometer has a goal of $3,000,000. Help us achieve this goal and raise money for the amazing athletes of Special Olympics Minnesota!

Top Fundraisers List
The Top 5 Individual Fundraisers and Top 5 Team Fundraisers are listed on the Plunge homepage and showcase the top fundraisers among all 14 Plunges. Top 5 lists are also displayed on each Plunge location page and reflect only those Plungers and teams registered for that specific Plunge. Use these lists to stay up to date on what other individuals and teams are raising and use it to motivate yourself!

Plunge Team Web Pages
Plungers can register for one Plunge and join a team at a different Plunge. This can be helpful for businesses and corporations who want their employees fundraising efforts to be shown together, even when all are unable to Plunge at the same location.

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Online Account Features

Add Offline Pledge
This section is entirely for Plunger use and is not used by staff at Plunge Headquarters. When you check in on the day of the Plunge, volunteers will only count the money that is turned in at that time. The money turned in on the day of the Plunge will be added to the money raised online to get your total fundraising amount. We do not count offline pledges that you enter online as part of your total because we have not received the pledges yet. Use this tool to maintain your public Web page and keep others updated about your fundraising. Just be sure to bring it all with you the day of the Plunge or you won't receive credit for it! To add offline pledges to your account, log in to your account, and under the "My Account" drop-down menu, choose Add Offline Pledge.

Find your Plunger Page URL
To find your Plunger page website address, log into your account. On your Account Summary page, you'll find your Plunger page URL listed under Account Information. You can also search for your name using the Find Plunger/Team function.

Send thank you emails
Make sure to send a thank you to your Plunge supporters! Update them with how you are doing, what your costume is, information on how they can come out and watch or even join your team. After the event, let them know the total number of participants and the funds you raised for Special Olympics Minnesota and how much you appreciate their support!

Change Event
Can't make it to the Plunge that you originally registered for? No problem! Contact ann.forstie@somn.org and she'll switch you and your fundraising efforts to the new Plunge location.

Change Team
To change your team, log into your account, and from your Account Summary page, look for the Change Team link. You can also access this page under Account Options, which is in the menu under My Account once you've logged in.

Change Team Name
Only team captains can change team names. If you're a team captain, log into your account, and from your Account Summary page, look for the Change Team Name link. Once you've clicked it, enter in your new team name and click Submit. You can also access this page under Account Options, which is in the drop-down menu under My Account once you've logged in. NOTE: Changing a team name will also change your team's website address.

Change Goal
Have you already reached your fundraising goal, but still have plenty of time before the event? Increase your fundraising goal and see how much more you can raise! Plungers are not obligated to raise that amount, so why not give it a shot? To change your goal, log into your account. Then, from the My Account menu at the top of the page, select Account Options and Change Goal.

Personal Plunger Page
This page shows all of your public Plunger information and gives potential donors a place to find your pledge button.

Change Photo
To change your personal or team photo, log into your account. You should be on the Account Summary page. (If not, select Account Summary from the My Account menu at the top of the page.) For your personal photo: Under Account Information, click the add photo or change photo link. For your team photo: Under your team's Plunge location, click the add photo or change photo link.

Delete Account
Can't Plunge anymore — or did you just chicken out? Delete your account so you are no longer registered for the event. Just log into your account and, under the My Account menu at the top of the page, select Delete Account.

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Miscellaneous Plunge Questions

Can I Plunge at more than one Plunge event?
Definitely! You need to register yourself for each Plunge event. All your events will appear on your public Plunge page, and supporters will be able to choose which event they'd like to donate to. To register for a second (or third, or fourth!) Plunge, log into your account. Under My Account, select Register for Another Plunge. Your contact and account information will automatically be entered; just choose your event, answer a couple other questions, and continue with the registration process.

I have a group of people that want to Plunge together. Can we form a team?
Yes! Forming a team is a great way to motivate one another to raise more money for Special Olympics Minnesota. Download a team toolkit (PDF)

Will my Plunge team be able to jump in together?
Depending on the size of the hole cut in the ice, teams may jump in together. If the hole is smaller, teams will have to split into groups and jump in succession.

How can my corporation get involved?
Take the Corporate Challenge! Corporations can recruit employees, friends and family and create a Plunge team to compete against other corporate teams registered online for the Plunge. Make sure that your team chooses the team challenge designation "Corporation" during the registration process. The Plunge homepage will list the five highest fundraising corporations among all the Plunges. Each Plunge location Web page will show the three highest fundraising corporations for that Plunge location.

How can I get my restaurant involved?
Take the Restaurant Challenge! Restaurants can recruit customers, employees, friends and family and create a Plunge team to compete against other restaurant teams registered online for the Plunge. Make sure that your team chooses the team challenge designation "Restaurant" during the registration process. The Plunge homepage will list the five highest fundraising restaurants among all the Plunges. Each Plunge location Web page will show the three highest fundraising restaurants for that Plunge location.

How can I get my school involved?
Take the School Challenge! Schools can recruit students, staff, parents, friends and family and create a Plunge team to compete against other school teams registered online for the Plunge. Make sure that your team chooses the team challenge designation "School" during the registration process. The Plunge homepage will list the five highest fundraising schools among all the Plunges. Each Plunge location Web page will show the three highest fundraising schools for that Plunge location.

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