The past 18+ months have been challenging for the nonprofit sector, but golf tournaments have provided and continue to provide an opportunity to gather safely, raise crucial dollars, attract corporate support, and steward donors and sponsors. With 2022 approaching and plans for spring events firming up, now’s the time to consider the lessons learned from successful golf events held throughout 2020 and 2021. Here are eight best practices gleaned from successful golf fundraisers held amid challenging and uncertain times:
1) Stay Nimble
A survey conducted by the Association of Fundraising Professionals reports that in 2020, nearly 64% of nonprofits had to cancel at least one in-person fundraising event, and more than 50% converted at least one in-person event to a virtual event. As uncertainty persists, event organizers must be ready to adapt, and that requires options and flexibility. The beauty of golf events is that they are easy to modify if there’s a need to reduce contact points or in-person gatherings. Virtual and hybrid tournaments—where play is spread across multiple days and/or multiple courses and scores are submitted through a mobile scoring app to an overall leaderboard—can ensure that events go off safely and successfully.
2) Have a Backup Plan
Whether inclement weather causes an event to be canceled or local circumstances require a change in format, event organizers should have a plan in place ahead of the tournament. Be sure to have a plan for a rain date (if applicable—check your contract with the golf course) and determine how you’ll handle refunds. Using an event management platform designed specifically for golf fundraisers can make it especially easy to transition to a virtual or hybrid event ahead of time or even last minute.
3) Use an Event Website
An attractive, professional event website sets your golf tournament up for success. It makes sharing the event super easy—simply link to it in all promotion and communication leading up to the tournament. Golfers and sponsors can purchase teams and sponsorships quickly and securely as soon as they hear about the event, with just a few clicks. The website also gives sponsors exposure, which can be used to raise more dollars or simply recognize supporters for their ongoing support. As the event draws nearer, use the website to keep participants updated on any changes to rules, protocols, or other event details.
4) Move Registration Online
Converting traditional paper registration forms, checks, and receipts to online registration with secure payment processing saves event organizers and committees untold amounts of time and effort. It eliminates the hassle of having to process paperwork, handle checks, issue receipts, and collect payments the day of the tournament, not to mention it removes a touchpoint (if that’s a lingering concern) and congestion at check-in. Plus, online registration securely and responsibly captures donor and sponsor information and keeps it organized in one place, so your organization can include this important information in your donor database for future donor stewardship and additional asks.
5) Offer Attractive & Relevant Sponsorships
Sponsorships are typically where nonprofits can bring in the most revenue from their golf event. A golf event management platform and corresponding website for your event makes it easy to build and advertise custom sponsorship packages, which should be tailored to the audience your event will attract. A tiered approach to sponsorship packages is effective, with the most expensive package including the most perks and exposure points, plus less expensive options that give more businesses the chance to get involved. Get creative in building your sponsorship packages—consider things beyond traditional presenting, banquet, and hole sponsorships and solicit sponsors for event technology, on-course contests, golf carts, beverage cart, player gifts, and more.
6) Live-Score the Tournament
Traditionally, teams in a golf tournament track their scores on a paper scorecard, then hand it in at the end of the event. Most teams don’t know what the rest of the field is shooting until everyone finishes and golf staff tally final scores—which can leave folks lingering after the event. Live scoring allows teams to submit their scores in real time. They’re displayed on a live leaderboard so anyone can see up-to-the-minute standings. If your event includes a field of competitive golfers, they’ll enjoy seeing where they stand throughout the tournament. Even if the tournament is more recreational, live standings give teams the chance to rib each other, provide event organizers with something to talk about as they make the rounds, and make the event all-around more fun and memorable—even if it’s not a super competitive event. They’re also a great sponsorship opportunity with a ton of exposure that can be sold at a premium.
7) Communicate With Participants
You’ll definitely want to keep in touch with supporters through a few touchpoints in the months and weeks leading up to the event, which keeps your cause on their mind, connects them to your mission, and lays the foundation for long-term donor and sponsor relationships. You’ll want an easy way to communicate with participants about updates, protocols, procedures, and any other changes in a timely manner. Event management technology with built-in messaging tools, whether via email or push notifications, lets organizers get in touch with folks in a few clicks, in one platform, instead of having to manage exporting and importing information and juggling multiple systems.
8) Focus on Golf & the Cause
Golf continues to be a popular pastime, with the National Golf Foundation reporting a nationwide increase in rounds. When you’re able to combine an outdoor, community activity people enjoy—golf—with a great cause, they’ll not only feel good about supporting your event, but are more likely to come back year after year and recruit friends and colleagues to join their teams. Make sure to build ways to showcase your mission to golfers and sponsors into the event to help connect them with the cause they’re playing for. Some easy ways to accomplish this are to include a flyer in player gift bags, set up signs or banners on the course, visit with golfers while they wait to tee off, send email messages or push notifications, or have a speaker during any pre- or post-golf gatherings. You’ll also want to make sure you follow up with participants after the tournament, thanking them for their support and inviting them to save the date for next year’s tournament.
What About 2022?
Golf event and fundraising technology has helped organizations proceed with an in-person fundraising event that connected people while keeping them safe and raised crucial dollars. GolfStatus’s all-in-one golf event management and fundraising platform helps streamline the process for tournament planners, saving a ton of time and providing avenues to raise more money. This technology is available to nonprofits and those planning events that benefit one at no cost through GolfStatus.org and the Golf for Good program. Learn more and get qualified here or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Watch: This free webinar dives into how nonprofits can use golf tournaments to reach and engage with new and existing donors and sponsors. You’ll hear why golf is the ideal fundraising event for uncertain times and how technology makes it easy to be prepared for changing circumstances.