Rubber Duck Regatta Is a Virtual Success

Partnering with Freestore Foodbank to grow fundraising for a long-standing event

Project Description

In it’s 26th year, the Rubber Duck Regatta is a long-standing event for Freestore Foodbank, located in Cincinnati, Ohio. The tagline, Buy a Duck, Feed a Child encapsulates the event, where people buy ducks with 100% of funds helping to feed hungry children and also providing the donor a chance to win prizes. The actual event is held on Labor Day weekend with a rubber duck drop in the Ohio River. In 2020, the event—like so many others—had to go virtual.


As a result of going virtual, and the need to social distance during the fundraising period leading up to the event, there was a need to:

  • Make up for lost revenue due to the cancellation of in-person duck sales.
  • Replace the excitement of the annual physical event and duck drop.
  • Make event messaging relevant during the pandemic.


  • Enhanced the segmentation of eAppeals to personalize messaging for multiple segments including new donors who recently gave in response to COVID-19, past event donors, active donor groups, volunteers and more.
  • Ensured that the message continued to stay relevant by connecting the dots from funds raised through the event to supporting emergency response efforts for families and children facing hunger as a result of the economic impact of the pandemic
  • Analyzed and updated a separate welcome series personalized for new donors who joined the file through the event.
  • Incentivized donations through a special, limited-time t-shirt eAppeal promotion that drove to a customized donation form with a minimum donation to receive a t-shirt.
  • Used ecommunications to promote a “digital duck drop” aired on the local news in replace of the physical event.


  • Overall, a 22% increase in online gifts and 90% increase in online revenue YOY.
  • Email drove 63% more gifts and 151% more dollars YOY
  • Email brought in 44% of total online revenue for the event compared to 33% the year prior.