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Golf as a Fundraising Tool: Ten Important Pointers

By Elisa Gaudet on June 18, 2008No Comment

1.)  Minimize your expenses and maximize your income. 
Try to get everything donated.  Provide sponsors with multi-tiered sponsorship packages with tangible benefits and notify them of the event approximately six months before it takes place. Some possible sponsorships include title, contributing, hole sponsor and cocktail party sponsors. Corporations will participate if they will receive exposure for their company, are giving to a worthwhile cause and are able to entertain clients.  Develop a committee to assist in the selling of these packages:   recruiting sponsors is relationship-based, like everything else in fundraising, so ensure that your committee members have thick rolodexes.  Incorporate a live auction, a silent auction, or a raffle (or all three!) into the event these are areas where you can raise significant money.    

2.)  Use your Board.
Your Board is your greatest resource.  Use them to present sponsorship packages and foursome opportunities to local businesses, colleagues, and friends.  Facilitate their participation by working closely with them; make yourself available for questions, concerns…and more sponsorship materials!
3.)  Work with the golf course.
Negotiate course rates.  Most courses have a special non-profit rate for charity events, and will have staff that can help you.  Use them!  Ask what has worked — and what hasn’t in the past.  Set the entry fee so that it covers the tournament expenses plus profit. 

4.)  Define your message.
It is critical that everyone working with you — from the volunteers to the golfers to the sponsors understands — the purpose of the event and the mission of your organization.  Be consistent with your message in all marketing materials. 

5.)  Create a great golf experience.
Ensure that the tournament format fits the caliber of the golfers playing.  Give them an opportunity to test their golf skills.  Work with the course and the marshals to move the event along.  Prizes for the first, second, and third place golf teams — as well as for specific accomplishments, like the longest drive, closest to the pin, and a hole in one- add a level of friendly competition to the day.  

6.)  Personalize the event.
People like to feel special.  Names on golf carts, personalized thank you notes, golf shirts or hats, and high quality give away gifts (ideally with the name of your nonprofit imprinted on it) will ensure that participants remember the experience beyond the day they play golf.  A picture of the foursome is always popular. Think of something you would want to put in your office.

7.)  Recruit volunteers and high profile guests.
Get as many volunteers as you can to help with the event; especially those that have contacts and know the golf industry or golf community. Try to get big celebrities or some local celebrities to attend. Many celebrities play golf and are willing to attend if all their expenses are paid and it is a worthwile cause. Even if they do not play golf, invite them to MC the event and have a presence.

8.)  Promote the event.
Reach out to civic groups, business associations, and other charities.  Let them know about the golf event and ask if they want to participate.  Promote your event to country club members, local golf stores, and your local paper’s golf writer or sports writer. Promote your event and reach out to TV, radio, magazines, newspapers and event, golf and other websites for your area.

9.)  Provide food!
It is a long day in the sun.  Be sure to include boxed lunches if participants are playing during lunch time, and enough food during the event closing and awards presentation party to keep everyone happy.

10.)  Remind people why they are there.
Participants will appreciate seeing the benefit of their contributions.  Ensure that a compelling advocate for your organization has a visible presence at the awards presentation and cocktail party.

Elisa Gaudet consults to businesses and charities on successful ways to run a golf event. She also writes a syndicated sports column, She can be reached at

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