How to Produce a Successful Gold Fundraising Event

You want to host a fund-raising golf tournament, why? Considering all effort necessary for a successful event, the only good reason to have a golf tournament, or and other special event, is to make money for the cause!  Therefore, how do you produce the most enjoyable, lively, and fun event while maximizing tournament income? More on that in a moment.

Not anyone can put on a charity golf event and even fewer can put on a first-class event that raises a lot of money and that has golfers waiting to return year after year.  There have been so many tales of disasters with non-profits trying to run golf tournaments, only to discover that they broke even financially and almost died of exhaustion in the process.

Whether you have planned a golf tournament before and have some expertise OR you are a “rookie” facing your first event, sometimes we forget the little things that can take our tournament to the next level. Are you ready to take your tournament to the next level? Good, then let’s review 9 of the 18 holes of success.

THE FRONT NINE: Hole #1. Defining Purpose and Setting Big Goals

“Without vision the people will perish”. It is important to have a clear path to your objective. Many groups want to have a golf tournament just because “everyone else is.” This is not a reason to have a golf tournament. As we said, the only good reason is to make money for your charity. Therefore:

  • Define your purpose and make sure that the whole committee is on the same page.
  • Once you have a plan, stick to it.
  • Get specific with your goals. Decide how much money you want raise and where the money is going. Sponsors and golfers will write checks if they know they are writing them to a group that is organized and has a plan.
Hole #2. Staffing your Golf Tournament

Do not attempt a golf tournament alone. You will get frustrated and burnt out. Committees are essential for producing a successful event and here are a few key things to remember:

  • Recruiting volunteers – Committee members are folks who want to network, serve, make friends, & get recognition.
  • Give volunteers direction & hold them accountable – set goals, give instructions in writing, ask for weekly reports.
  • Reward your volunteers – your committees will be loyal and return year after if you give reward them with gifts, incentives, exposure, and recognition.
Hole #3. Choosing the Right Tournament Format

The format can make or break your event. The caliber of your players should determine the right format. Beginner golfers enjoy a scramble, good golfers enjoy a best ball format, and a mixed group of golfers enjoy a modified scramble.

  • Don’t get hung up on 4-Person teams – it is hard these days for golfers to find 3 other friends to take a day off so have 2 person teams. There are many benefits to this format.
  • DO NOT consult your local pro for the best format – they will suggest that which is easiest for them.
  • Mix up your events. Don’t get stuck in the same rut year after year. Think about a Pro-Am, Celebrity-AM, or a Golf-A-Thon.
Hole #4. Finding the Best Golf Course and Getting the Best Deal

The golf course that you choose is one of the most important decisions that you make since the #1 complaint that we hear about tournaments is about the course. Golfers prefer a course that is “special” such as new, private, traditional, easy, or difficult. The most important thing is that the golf course wants your business therefore getting a “deal” can be a reality. Golf courses do make deals, so here a few things to remember:

  • Have a good cause
  • Be “flexible” – schedule tournament during the shoulder season or Monday – Thursday PM
  • Bring them additional business
Hole #5. How to Sell Sponsors

Sponsors are profit. The more sponsors you have the more money you make. Sponsors want to give to your cause, build relations with your members and (most importantly) have a relation with you. Give them value, the opportunity to invest, and a return on investment.

Hole #6. How to Recruit Golfers

Without golfers, you have no tournament. You can sell out your tournament with 8 committee members each selling 4 foursomes (8x4x4 = 128.)

Hole #7. Promoting Your Tournament

Spending big money on promotion is not necessary!  If you have a good committee, good local media contacts, and use social media you can have a top-notch promotional campaign. Networking is the key. The best promotion is word-of-mouth via relationships.

Hole #8. Games & Contests

Games and contests build memories. Beginner golfers enjoy additional activities on the course. Give them games and contests and they will remember your event. It also gives you an opportunity to announce more winners. The more winners you have the better.

Hole #9. High Quality Prizes

The quality of prizes, determine the quality of your event. Give them quality merchandise. Try to trade with sponsors. Prizes include: Tee Package – Given to the golfers when they arrive Contest Prizes, Winner Prizes, Raffle Items, Auction Items

Here we are at the “turn.”

THE BACK NINE offers more tips and tricks to help you take your tournament to the next level.  THE BACK NINE can be found on our website (www.tournamentmasters.us) ready for download.

At the end of the day, the best advice we can give you is to involve a professional golf event management organization. We know the business, the price breaks, the best deals on clubs, and the way to organize and orchestrate the whole process.

Tournament Masters and the GTAA are the #1 golf tournament industry experts and resource.  Our mission is simply to help charities and companies put on better golf tournaments and fundraisers.  We do this through consultation, education, seminars, and books and tapes. WE EXIST TO TAKE YOUR EVENT TO THE NEXT LEVEL. If you want to go there give us a call.

There are lots of small groups being penny-wise and pound foolish trying to save money doing it themselves. They end up with few people at the event the first year, and often few or none the second year. Go with a pro—it pays.

Anyone can put on a charity golf tournament. Not everyone can produce a first-class event that raises a lot of money and one that golfers return year after year. How does your golf tournament do? Are you proud of it or is there room for improvement?

Hole #10. Golf Tournament Operations

Sweat the details. Watch everything from the spelling of everyone’s name to starting on time. Inform all of the committee of all of the details so that they can be helpful.

Hole #11. Time Line

Start 6 months in advance, reserve the golf course 5 months out, contact sponsors as soon as possible, contact golfers 60 days in advance.

Hole #12. Budgets

Don’t spend more than you bring in and your event will be profitable. Charge for all playing spots. Sponsors are your profit.

Hole #13. Additional Revenue

Mulligan’s, gambling hole, contests, raffles and auctions can take you event to a new level.

Hole #14. Food & Beverage

Give them great food, but not too much before the tournament. Pay for their drinks.

Hole #15. Lodging

Find 5 to 10 hotels within 10 minutes of the golf course for you’re out of the area guests. Have high-end and low-end facilities for them to choose from.

Hole #16. Signage

Four-color quality signs show class. The sponsor signs that you have the bigger your event will look and it will encourage more sponsors for next year.

Hole #17. Photography & Video

Team and individual photos will build memories. Include photos in all of your packages. Consider a video. It is a great opportunity for a sponsor to get exposure.

Hole #18. Wrap Up & Follow Up

Pay your bills, clean up and write thank you letters. Build a reputation of thoughtfulness.

Producing a golf tournament can be fun and rewarding. It can also be a nightmare. Try some these ideas and you will have a successful golf tournament. Stay tuned for the next article, “Taking your Golf Tournament to the next level”.

Phil Immordino, Speaker and Author, “How to Produce a Successful Golf Tournament”. President, “GTAA – Golf Tournament Association of America”, www.gtaaweb.org

To contact Phil pimmordino@gtaaweb.org

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