By Katie Casillas, director of marketing at GolfStatus.org, an event management platform specifically for golf fundraisers.


There’s no doubting it: 2020 has forced organizations, industries, and entire sectors to adapt. Event fundraising is no exception and, within the category, the golf fundraiser has become especially critical. With other major events going completely virtual and, in many cases, being altogether canceled, nonprofits have looked to the golf tournament as a live event that’s not only salvageable, but grounds for improvement and innovation. What fundraisers have realized along the way is that this traditional and long-standing event is rife with opportunities to upgrade, streamline, and improve outcomes altogether. Indeed, golf outings are having something of a renaissance in a time when corporate connections, donor engagement, and outreach efforts are perhaps more important than ever.

1) Focus on audience

Any seasoned event planner knows that it’s not just about how many people you attract to a key fundraiser—but whom. Demographics and networks are important, and golf’s demographic tends to include high-capacity donors with powerful networks. In fact, golfers report an average household income more than twice that of the national average, the average net worth of a golfer is nearly $1 million, one in three are top-level managers and/or key decision-makers within their organizations, and the vast majority are invested in stocks or mutual funds.

The most successful event organizers understand the rarity of having four focused hours of access to these influential community members and capitalize on it by strategically aligning the event’s goals accordingly. This value can get lost when an annual event is passed to a new volunteer every few years. The shakeup of a crisis like COVID-19 has forced organizations to get to the heart of why their golf event matters and evaluate where it might be missing the mark.

2) Golf events are an entry point for corporate partnerships

Fundraisers are realizing that the golf outing’s unique tendency to attract wealthy and connected community members makes it a useful way to not only steward existing corporate partners, but to onboard new ones. This requires a more focused effort on approaching new sponsors and asking for their support amid a tumultuous economy. The ask is substantially easier because nonprofits are able to bring additional value to the table for sponsors who benefit from networking opportunities, exposure to an affluent and influential demographic of potential customers, and the especially crucial brand lift that comes with supporting a fun community event tied to a great cause.

3) Have a website for your golf event

Virtual events have brought to light the importance of a communication plan that engages participants before, during, and after the event in a meaningful way. What’s more, online followers and supporters are beneficial whether the event is virtual or not. For the golf outing, that has made an event website common practice. Having a website to display updated information about the event that includes the ability to register or sponsor the outing instantly and on the spot makes sharing the event in the time leading up to it easier and more effective. The event website is also an easy place to display and share live leaderboards and post final results.

4) Utilize live leaderboards

Access to live-scoring technology that’s easy, inexpensive, and glitch-free has made live leaderboards common practice. It used to be that live-scoring required devices on carts or supplied by third-party event companies, but today’s technology makes it possible for players to enter their scores and view standings in real-time from their mobile device. Live leaderboards also save the golf facility time, help organizers avoid that awkward downtime after the outing, and keep competitive players more engaged in the outing. They’re also a great sponsorship opportunity—one that resembles the high-end look and feel of professional-caliber events.

5) Solicit online donations from event spectators

Event organizers are also capitalizing on the opportunity to collect donations from supporters following and engaging with their golf event online. Event organizers do this by including asks in their communications plans and making it easy to donate from places like the event website and the leaderboards. Not only is this an outreach effort, it’s also an easy way to generate additional fundraising revenue.

6) Offer digital sponsorship opportunities

Digital sponsorship opportunities provide more opportunities for premium exposure and are helping event fundraisers attract and retain sponsors during this crucial time. With elements like registration websites, mobile scoring, and live leaderboards improving planning efficiencies and making it easier for players to commit and engage—they’re also a great opportunity for sponsors.

7) Extend golf events to engage online spectators longer

Restrictions and regulations have forced many organizations to consider and execute on creative formats in order to keep players safely socially distanced. This includes extended play options, multi-course options, and live online leaderboards that engage a following and keep supporters interested in the event for longer than a single day. What event organizers are realizing is that extending play and opening up multiple courses provides convenience to online spectators.

Before these innovations, event organizers might miss out on a key team or a number of key teams due to busy summer and fall schedules. Technology provides the ability to extend play over multiple days or even weeks, and include multiple courses in the outing—not only making it possible for more players to (safely) participate, but making it easier and more convenient for them to do so.

8) Embrace technology and professionalism

2020 has necessitated a no-frills approach that reinforces the importance of smooth logistics and an overall smooth and professional look and feel for the event. In short, it’s less about the tee gifts and more about having a relaxed, enjoyable time on the course. Donor expectations include an easy and convenient registration process, organized day-of operations, and an effortlessly high-end look and feel in line with a professional-caliber outing.

In closing

The technology overhaul that happened years ago for large-scale fundraising events, such as galas and walk/run-a-thons, has finally come to golf events. What was once done by hand or through spreadsheets has been overhauled with better systems and processes—many of which are inexpensive, make it easy to underwrite or cover costs, or are no-cost altogether.


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.

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