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  • Writer's pictureNonprofit Learning Lab

How to Know if a Golf Fundraiser is Right for Your Nonprofit

Updated: 4 days ago


Fundraising is a constant challenge for nonprofits of all types and sizes. Raising the dollars

necessary to fuel your mission takes creativity, strategy, and the willingness to try new ideas. A

classic fundraising idea that has gained popularity over the past few years is a charity golf

tournament. Golf fundraisers, in particular, have a unique appeal and can attract a different supporter demographic.


But if your nonprofit is new to golf fundraising, you may wonder if it’s the right fit for your organization. It’s important to note that you don’t have to be a golf expert to plan and execute a

lucrative golf tournament! Before you dive into planning, here are five factors to consider to help determine whether or not a golf tournament is a good choice for your nonprofit.

 A woman holding a golf club prepares to tee off at a charity golf tournament. Golf  carts and other golfers are visible in the background.

1. Audience Interest

Start by assessing your nonprofit’s audience and the likelihood that they would get behind a golf

tournament. In general, golf events typically attract an affluent, influential demographic and

those who are interested in supporting your cause through a pastime they genuinely enjoy. To

gauge your audience’s interest, consider the following:


  • Demographic alignment. Does your current supporter base include individuals who are likely to participate in a golf event? You can find out by conducting surveys or polls, or having conversations with key supporters to measure interest and their likelihood of participation.

  • Potential for new donors. Are you looking to expand your donor base? A golf fundraiser has the potential to attract new donors who may not have previously engaged with your organization through other events, programs, or outreach efforts.

  • Engagement and enthusiasm. Is there genuine enthusiasm for such an event? Look for indicators of engagement, such as past participation in fundraising events, feedback from supporters, and any interest expressed during other fundraising activities.

  • Local support. Is your community involved with your nonprofit? Are they likely to support your tournament by playing in or sponsoring your tournament? Consider how responsive the community at large has been in past calls for support.


Utilize your donor data to help gain a better understanding of your audience’s propensity to

support a golf event. Pull reports of past event participation, response to fundraising campaigns,

donation history, and demographics or personal interests to help paint a better picture of your

overall supporter base.


2. Organizational Resources & Capacity

Charity golf tournaments require an investment of time and effort to be successful. Having the

right tools in place is key (see item number five below!) to minimizing the administrative burden

and streamlining planning, but examining the capacity of your organization is just as important.

Don’t fret if your team lacks golf knowledge! There are a myriad of resources available to fill that

gap and help you be successful.


Keep the following in mind when thinking through your organization’s resources and capacity:

Financial considerations. It is possible to launch a golf event with no startup budget, so don’t let the lack of seed funds hold you back. That being said, it’s a good idea to gain a solid understanding of the potential income and expenses associated with a golf tournament so you’re not blindsided by anything.


  • People power. Are there people who are willing to take point on planning and keep the tournament moving forward? Do you have access to volunteers to help the event run smoothly? It’s important to consider the capacity of your development or events team (or whomever will lead the charge) to be able to effectively handle logistics, marketing, and sponsor outreach.

  • Lead time. It is definitely possible to plan a successful charity golf tournament in a couple months, but it’s a good idea to give yourself as much runway as possible, especially for a first-time event. Think about the time of year you’d like to hold a tournament, and give yourself six to nine months to even a year to plan.

  • Promotional infrastructure. Do you have the infrastructure in place to communicate with your audience and community to promote the event? Do you have partners you can lean on to help spread the word?


A man putts a golf ball while two other golfers look on at a charity golf  tournament

3. Organizational Goals

Golf tournaments have the power to achieve multiple nonprofit goals, including fundraising,

outreach and awareness, donor stewardship and engagement, a broadened donor base, and

more. Think through what you’d like to accomplish with a charity golf tournament. Having goals

in place before you embark on planning will help details fall into place, such as the type of golf

facility and team and sponsorship pricing.


Your goals should be realistic and attainable, and include:


  • Fundraising goals. How much money do you hope to raise with the tournament? What will those dollars do for your organization’s mission? Do you hope to raise a specific amount the day of the tournament as well?

  • Awareness goals. Golf tournaments help you reach new audiences who may not know a thing about your organization’s mission. It’s a great opportunity to spread the word about what you do and why you do it—and hopefully gain some new supporters along the way.

  • Engagement goals. How will you continue to engage with golf tournament participants after the event to convert them into regular supporters? How will you engage with the community to get involved in your tournament? It’s important to set realistic, attainable goals, particularly for a brand new event. While you certainly don’t want to be disappointed that you fell short, don’t sell your golf tournament’s potential short. Your golf event has incredible fundraising power and a unique value proposition for sponsors and golfers, so keep that in mind when setting your goals.


4. Community Connections

Another factor to consider is the connection your nonprofit has with the community where you

operate. Ultimately, the community is who will support your event, so without strong

connections, a successful golf tournament could be a challenge.


  • Golf facilities. First, are there golf facilities in your area to host your tournament? Think about what might appeal to your audience—a private, high-end facility that folks would be eager to play (and pay for) or a public, mid-level facility that comes with a lower price tag. Does anyone within your organization have a connection at local courses? Don’t be afraid to reach out to several facilities to get ideas about pricing and expenses.

  • Businesses and partners. Golf fundraisers rely on support from businesses, both locally and nationally. Think about your existing relationships with potential sponsors and partners, such as vendors, businesses that align with your mission, companies where your board members are employed, or other businesses where you have a connection. Beyond monetary support, think about those that might be willing to provide in-kind donations, prizes or auction items, or promotional assistance.

  • Volunteers. Is there a network of volunteers to aid in planning and help the day of the tournament? Volunteers can help with registration, logistics, golfer engagement, running games, and much more. It’s helpful to have a reliable group of volunteers in place (or the ability to recruit such a group) to support the event.

  • Promotion. Are there options in your community to help spread the word about the event? Local television and radio stations, newspapers, online calendars or event listings, social media groups, or even local influences are great places to start, along with your nonprofit’s email list and social media channels.


A screenshot of a golf tournament website for a Children’s Miracle Network  Hospitals event is displayed on a laptop computer

5. Access to the Right Tools

As mentioned above, the right tools are crucial to a successful golf tournament. Not only these

tools save organizers a ton of time and effort, but also provide an enhanced experience for

golfers and sponsors and provide avenues to raise more money for your cause. The importance

of using a golf-specific event management platform can’t be overstated. Most event

management or ticketing platforms can’t handle the level of specificity required for golf events

and will require time-consuming workarounds and adaptations to function properly. When

evaluating your options, ask yourself the following:

  • Will it help raise more money?

  • Is it easy to use?

  • Will it save time and effort?

  • Can it help promote my tournament?

  • Does it make my event look professional?

  • Does it include live-scoring?

  • Do they offer hole-in-one insurance?

  • Can I share access with my team and the golf facility?

  • How much does it cost?

  • Will someone be able to help me?


What’s Next?

With the right tools in place, golf tournaments can provide a huge ROI for nonprofits, in terms of

fundraising, raising awareness, and building and strengthening relationships. Whether you’re

still thoughtfully considering the possibility of a tournament or are ready to jump into planning

with both feet, start by getting your event management platform in place so you’re building good

processes and staying organized from the get-go.



 

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