Every year we organise our annual Action Scuba beach clean-up, which we hold on one of our biggest course certification weekends of the year. We encourage our divers, including those newly certified, to come out and dive, and clean-up our training area (Centeen Park in Brockville). This year was our most successful year, and we'd love to share some of our learnings with you.
At all of our events we offer a BBQ and tons of door prizes. In past years, we offered these for free to reward our divers for participating in the clean-up.
But this year we realised - we can do more. We can continue to offer these activities, but make them fundraisers and use them to raise awareness for Project AWARE.
With that in mind, we made a few small changes.
First, we turned the door prize draw into a raffle. Action Scuba contributed a number of our own most popular branded items (t-shirts, caps, towels) and then we supplemented these with great donations from our suppliers, like Scubapro / Subgear (through Sharkbite Distribution in Canada), who donated fins, gloves, shirts, etc.
Everyone who participated in the beach clean-up received a free ticket, but was also encouraged to buy additional tickets at a price of 3 for $5. We also sold tickets to all our students who were on other courses (Open Water, Advanced and Rescue).
We also encouraged the students to bring their families and friends along to support them as they completed their certification courses, and invited these spectators to take part in our event.
Second, we asked for a minimum donation of $2 / person for the BBQ lunch. While Action Scuba still footed the bill for all of the food, all of the money our divers donated would go to Project AWARE.
As a result of these 2 small changes, we raised $450 during our Beach Clean-up for Project AWARE! Add to that the 34 certifications earned that day (at $10 / cert as part of our 100% AWARE program), and our total donations for the weekend reached nearly $800!
So how can you and your dive centre do the same?
Here are some tips for maximising your next Beach Clean-Up / Dive Against Debris:
- - Promote your dive against debris / beach clean-up way in advance. We put ours on our summer schedule & website back in May to raise awareness, and used social media to promote it.
- - Include a BBQ or other easy snack / refreshment during your event, and invite divers to bring their friends and families (including non-divers). This makes it a social activity.
- - Warn people ahead of time that donations will be requested so that they bring cash.
- - Request a minimum donation for the lunch / snack. Be sure to be very clear that the money is going towards Project AWARE. Most people will donate more than the minimum. We asked for $2, and most people gave $5 as it was an easy bill to donate.
- - Use signage at the site to clearly explain donations and use the Project AWARE logo. Also have some material on hand to help explain what Project AWARE is and does for those who are unsure.
- - Brief your staff ahead of time, and have a quick meeting with them on site. Clearly communicate to them what you expect of them, what message they are to give, and ask them to encourage participation.
- - Ensure that your staff understand who Project AWARE are and what they do. Give them a few talking points about some of the marine issues and where donations will go.
- - Collect prizes way in advance of your event. Approach suppliers, and be sure to clearly explain that this is to benefit Project AWARE, and promise to mention their names.
- - If you are going to DEMA 2012 you'll find that lots of vendors will give out freebies and prizes. Save these and use them for your raffle prizes. For example, last year I picked up a PADI signal buoy at one of the sessions. It became a coveted prized in our raffle. Even caps, stickers, bags, etc make fun prizes.
- - Make your prize drawing a combination of door prize and raffle. Provide free tickets for those who helped with your clean-up to show that you value their time and commitment, but also allow them to purchase more tickets for a better chance of winning.
- - Make good use of non-diving friends and family of your customers / students. Many are looking for ways to be involved. Ask them to walk around and sell tickets, man the BBQ, take photos, etc. You would be surprised at how keen some will be to feel like they are part of the diving community.
- - Combine your clean-up event with other courses, and encourage the students to incorporate some element of diving against debris or AWARE diving into their dives. This is a great activity for a Search & Recovery adventure dive within the Advanced Open Water Diver Course.
- - Use the tools Project AWARE provides. They have great posters, web banners, etc to help you promote your activities. Use them!
Here's hoping your next AWARE activity is a huge success!