Golf fundraisers are a huge opportunity for outreach, stewardship, and certainly for fundraising. They attract an ideal audience—donors and businesses with high-capacity networks often interested in supporting community events with exposure to an affluent and influential demographic. While their benefits are unmatched, it’s not uncommon for fundraisers, volunteers, and nonprofit professionals to find the task of organizing and executing a golf fundraiser to be especially daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are ten tips to consider ahead of your 2020 event.
1) Clearly define your goals for the event on the front end.
Ask yourself (and your executive leadership team) what it is that you’re looking to achieve with a golf fundraiser. Are you trying to attract more corporate partners? Is this an outreach effort? Are you looking for meaningful ways to build relationships with donors and sponsors? Is fundraising your key priority? Perhaps you’re combining multiple objectives. Start with broader objectives, then narrow in on SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, Timely) goals that fall under each. Your goals will dictate key details like the venue, the type of event you hold and its format, the types of add-ons and activities you offer, the committee or volunteer help you’ll need, the event schedule, the sponsors the event attracts, who you invite, and certainly your budget and revenue projections.
2) Choose the right venue and format.
Most charity golf outings are four-person scrambles. This is an ideal format because it balances the competitive element that makes golf fun without the pressure to be a great golfer or play a consistently impressive round. Golfers interested in playing in this type of event might be exceptional players, but they don’t have to be; both will enjoy the outing. With teams of four, the event also becomes an opportunity to host and entertain business clients—making businesses and brands more likely to purchase sponsorship packages.
3) Promote the event intentionally and across all digital channels.
Spreading the word is crucial to the success of any golf event. Get on the radars of players and sponsors beginning at least a few months ahead of the event. With every communication, be sure you provide a way to register online right then and there. This makes it easy for players and sponsors to commit, before they get interrupted or pulled away. You might consider mailing save-the-dates, formal invites, or a packet or tangible reminder ahead of the event, but be sure to also take full advantage of digital channels—emails, your organization’s newsletter, social media channels, and the like. These avenues are inexpensive, effective, and present the opportunity to link the donor or sponsor right to your event website where they can register on the spot when the event is on their mind and they’re ready to commit.
4) Make sure registration is easy and accessible.
Your event should certainly have a website—something sleek, simple, and clear. It should present key information like the event, time, and venue, but it should also help supporters understand more about your cause. If fundraising is the event’s primary objective, use your website to convey what your supporters’ generosity means to the organization. Look for concrete ways to quantify items like teams, hole sponsorships, mulligan purchases, and other packages. Be sure the event website clearly lists sponsorship packages, and provides recognition for those who purchase them. Lastly, and most importantly, be sure players and sponsors can register for and purchase these packages online securely, instantly, and easily.
5) Leverage your networks to attract players and sponsors, and target supporters strategically.
Refer back to your goals when considering who and how you recruit supporters for the event. If your goal is to get more exposure to local businesses and tee up broader corporate partnerships, target supporters with applicable networks. Consider involving your board, and be clear about these types of objectives. If the focus is fundraising, the golf event is an ideal opportunity to target high-capacity donors. It’s also a great way to broaden fundraising networks; look for ways to encourage supporters and board members to recruit players for their team who may be less familiar with your organization or cause, as a golf event is a great outreach opportunity. Be sure to engage your board here, too. Pro tip: Consider asking board members and highly engaged volunteers to each list five to 10 prospects at your monthly board meeting, then report back on their registration status at each meeting in the months leading up to the event; this provides a small but concrete and actionable list that each member can act on alongside a little accountability.
6) Use web-based tools to keep everyone on the same page and all the information in one place.
Between tracking and managing registrations (both players and teams), processing payments, keeping a hold on the sponsorship packages available and sold, keeping track of sponsor images, messaging, and other information, and working with the golf facility to get team pairings, hole assignments, and other details in order—there are certainly a lot of logistics to keep track of. It’s even harder when multiple people are involved, including volunteers and staff at the golf facility. Be sure to use an event management platform that allows you to track and manage all these items in one central place and in real-time, so you can delegate effectively, reference information when you need it, and seamlessly coordinate without losing track of anything.
7) Offer live scoring and sell a leaderboard sponsorship.
Traditionally, scores for golf outings aren’t calculated until the end of the round. It’s a quick turnaround for golf course staff, who must crunch all the numbers as quickly as possible after the round, and it can make for an awkward lull where players linger after the outing waiting for results. When players don’t know how they stack up, the event is also less competitive and engaging. Live scoring has traditionally only been accessible to the highest-level tournaments (think pro-Tour events), but today’s technology makes it possible to live-score outings large and small. Leaderboards can also be shared and posted online during and after the event to engage even more supporters. What’s more, live leaderboards give event organizers the opportunity to sell a leaderboard sponsorship. This is prime real estate—the place everyone’s looking during and after the event—and sponsors are willing to pay a premium for it.
8) Consider offering a pin flag sponsorship.
Another great way to upgrade the caliber of your event is through custom pin flags. The pin flag is the goal of every hole—the place players are consistently focusing their attention for three to four hours of tournament play. It’s a unique sponsorship opportunity, and because custom pin flags are common practice at professional Tour events, sponsors tend to understand the value and are willing to invest. Look for a golf event management platform that can also design and coordinate custom-branded pin flags, and be sure they’re high quality and look sleek and professional.
9) Look for ways to minimize costs—and don’t forget about the value of your time.
As a fundraiser, you know the value of your time and you know that it’s often best spent forging and cultivating the relationships that move your organization forward. That’s why it’s especially important to find ways to automate and streamline the logistics that go into planning the golf fundraiser—so you can focus your resources and especially your time on cultivating the relationships that attract the right supporters to the event and to your organization as a whole.
10) Upgrade the overall professionalism of the event so it becomes a corporate entertainment opportunity.
At the end of the day, the most successful, most high-end golf fundraisers are those that have become opportunities for sponsors and supporters to host corporate clients and entertain them in a professional, high-end environment that’s fun, relaxing, and associated with a great cause. Whether your event is in its first or second year, or you’ve been doing it for decades, the right tools are a game-changer.
GolfStatus.org is designed specifically to streamline and upgrade the quality of your outing while also saving you tons of time. In short, when you have the tools and knowledge you need to position your golf outing in the right light and with less and less overhead, the sky is truly the limit when it comes to outreach, fundraising, stewardship, growth, and the overall success of the event.