#igivearod fundraising drive

The Igivearod fundraising drive is a grassroots effort to support schools in Alaska and beyond. Originally coinciding during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, igivearod has branched out to be more about the trail and the people, particularly native and rural peoples, along it.

The Iditarod Sled Dog Race, along with other races such as the Iditarod Trail Invitational, follows the Iditarod Historic Trail, a portion of which was used in the famous 1925 serum run to Nome to help the children there. The race was started to celebrate both the Alaskan mushing tradition and the Iditarod Trail and the rural villages along its path. We’re proud to be a little piece of that legacy, helping the villages and kids along the trail and throughout rural Alaska while cheering on these hardworking canine athletes!

As the Red Lantern was carried into Nome on March 18th, 2019, the first-ever Igivearod came to an end with over $100,000 donated to Alaskan schools. Thank you to donors and friends— your unstoppable generosity and goodwill have been awe-inspiring!

Press Release


1. What is the Igivearod?

The Igivearod is a loosely-organized, volunteer-directed, fundraising drive that runs alongside races in Alaska. In the past it has centered on the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race (not affiliated with the Iditarod Trail Committee) but we have expanded to include other races such as the Iditarod Trail Invitational and the Kobuk 440. We do not take donations ourselves, but help direct potential donors to schools listed on the crowdfunding website DonorsChoose.

A focus has been on supporting Alaskan schools, with a particular emphasis on remote and rural communities like those that make the race possible. The communities often need help funding essential items like tables, chairs, and books for their students, or for classroom enrichment items like art supplies, music equipment, and STEM teaching kits. We’ve even been able to help fund class trips—no easy feat in Alaska!

In addition, we have some projects vetted by a dedicated group of volunteers in personal contact with communities in Alaska that seek to promote often-overlooked causes like the Arts and Native heritage.

2. Who are you people, and who you calling ugly?

The Igivearod is open to everyone, but you may see people talking about some ugly dogs. The “Ugly Dogs” (#uglydogs) are a Twitter-based group of dogsledding enthusiasts who are particular fans of BraverMountain Mushing, run by Blair Braverman and Quince Mountain out of Wisconsin.

Blair and Q are accomplished nonfiction authors whose rich storytelling and irresistible dog photos have enchanted many followers. In particular, Blair’s ability to capture her dogs’ personalities in her writing has made her whole team feel like cherished friends.

It’s a weird moniker for a community, to be sure, but like so much of Blair and Q’s world, it comes with a good story. When a Twitter troll told Blair to “go back to your ugly dogs, Karen,” her followers took it and ran with it. Make no mistake, all dogs are beautiful! Rather, Blair’s followers are the #uglydogs because they know that she’ll always come back to them. You don’t have to be an UglyDog to donate, and you don’t have to donate to be an UglyDog!

The 2019 Igivearod has been largely decentralized, but as it’s grown, a small group of us have tried to keep things tidy. While many of those involved in Igivearod are fans of BraverMountain Mushing, it’s certainly not a requirement to participate! Please note as well that Igivearod is not affiliated with nor sponsored by any particular musher/kennel.

3. How did the Igivearod get started?

The Igivearod started as a truly grassroots initiative. During the 2019 Iditarod, one of the Ugly Dogs learned that students in Nikolai, AK were trying to raise money for a school trip. When news spread on Twitter, the trip was funded in less than a day, but the growing snowball of goodwill couldn’t be stopped! Users began sharing other links to Alaskan school fundraisers, an exhaustive spreadsheet was created to organize and track donations, and the Igivearod was born.

4. I can’t donate right now—is there another way for me to participate?

Igivearod was inspired by the compassion, kindness, and good old-fashioned neighbourliness of Blair and Q. Volunteering in your community, calling in MusherGrams for teams on the trail, or even just going out of your way to do something nice for others are all great ways to join in the spirit of Igivearod if donating isn’t in the cards.

One example is the wonderful #IditaNotes initiative started by Julia (@JuliaFBXLawRpt). She’s sending friendly snail mail to anyone who could use a little love in their mailbox. But seriously—there is zero requirement to donate. Like we said, you don’t have to be an UglyDog to donate, and you don’t have to donate to be an UglyDog!

5. Tell me more about DonorsChoose!

DonorsChoose is a website and 501(c)(3) where teachers can request funding for specific projects for their schools. DonorsChoose vets all of the projects, collects donations, and purchases the materials for the projects once they are fully funded. 

5a. Is Igivearod affiliated with DonorsChoose? 
Nope! But the way the site organizes its projects is a good fit for this fundraising drive. We’ve been able to highlight schools throughout Alaska by sharing links to projects on DonorsChoose so that potential donors can find a cause that speaks to them personally. It’s also important to us that the fundraisers we list are transparent, a value shared by DonorsChoose as a platform.  

5b. What happens if a project doesn’t get fully funded?  

From the DonorsChoose website: “DonorsChoose will email you the day after the project expires so that you can decide what happens next. We’ll send credits back to your DonorsChoose.org account, you can select a new project to support, or you can send the donation back to the original teacher as a DonorsChoose.org gift code. If you haven’t taken action in 30 days, we’ll apply those funds to other classroom projects in need.”