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Golf fundraisers — especially the popular pairing of a golf fundraiser and a silent auction — are typically high-grossing events for nonprofits. Who doesn’t love a leisurely game of golf where the prize for winning is the knowledge that you’ve helped out a worthy cause?
While playing in a charity golf tournament is a laid-back way to spend a Saturday, the planning that goes into a successful fundraiser is something else entirely.
For your golf fundraiser to go off without a hitch, you need a solid plan in place months in advance.
That’s where we come in! We’ve outlined the essential steps to planning a smooth golf fundraiser, broken down into three main stages:
Strap on your visor, grab your caddie, and let’s get to it!
For a smooth charity golf tournament when the day rolls around, you need a plan and a team willing and prepared to pull it off.
We recommend starting your planning months in advance. More involved tournaments with longer guest lists and a charity auction element will need longer.
To see why, keep reading!
Set achievable goals for your organization. Setting goals with specific numerical targets is a great way to keep your fundraising team accountable for meeting those goals.
You might state your goals in terms of:
Setting goals with specific numerical targets is a great way to keep your fundraising team accountable for meeting those goals. Numbers also help inform the rest of your planning strategy — after all, you’d market your golf fundraiser much differently if you want a large number of people to come than if you’re looking for a specific number of major gifts.
For a golf fundraiser, you’re going to need a specialized venue: a golf course! If any of your board or staff members are members at local golf clubs, you should ask them to reach out on behalf of your organization.
You could offer sponsorship privileges, such as branding on your website or event t-shirts, in return for use of the course and the clubhouse. (For more on sponsorships, keep reading! We’ll talk more about those later.)
If you can’t secure access to a golf course, don’t give up on a golf fundraiser. Some charity golf outing games can be played elsewhere:
With a blowout event like a golf fundraiser, you could use a little help covering the operating costs. After all, if you spend all your donations, then your cause doesn’t benefit from your fundraiser!
You can look to a few different sources for sponsorships:
Make sure that you offer multiple levels of sponsorship packages. Not everyone can afford the same level of sponsorship, and you want to ensure that as many sponsors as possible can contribute.
If your tournament is part of your organization’s annual campaign, helping sponsors and supporters of all sizes feel valued is an essential part of growing your annual fund and developing new relationships.
For instance, let smaller contributions earn your sponsors a logo on your website, while larger contributions earn a free ticket to the event. List the prices and benefits associated with each sponsorship level on your website and on any sponsorship messages you send out.
Especially if you’re reaching out to a potential sponsor that you don’t have an existing relationship with, you need to make sure your sponsorship request is taken seriously, so take care to get your solicitation messages just right.
Once you have the logistics all worked out, it’s time to spread the news. Depending on who you’re trying to reach, you’ll need to choose different communication methods. To send invitations to:
Make sure to share any promotional materials with your sponsors. They can send out information about your event to their own connections, widening your potential donor pool!
Remember that you need to start you marketing efforts early, as soon as you have your venue and date confirmed. You want give your donors plenty of time to work your event into their busy schedules.
You should launch your registration page at the same time you start marketing your golf fundraiser. You need somewhere to send your donors when they decide to attend!
The right event fundraising software can smooth out the registration process. Look for features like:
By implementing the right software, your team can organize all the necessary event details in one place for anyone who needs it. Donors can register for your event and purchase add-ons, and your staff can send notifications to registrants and plan the event.
Bonus tip: If you’re incorporating a charity auction into your golf fundraiser, software can help with that, too! Choose a platform that allows you to track, package, and raffle items as well as accept mobile bids while your players are on the course.
You’ve planned your golf fundraiser to a tee. The invitations have been sent and returned. Awesome auction items have been secured. Mobile bidding software has been downloaded and programmed. The day has come.
Don’t let all your hard work in the planning phase go to waste!
Keep this checklist on hand during your golf fundraiser, and you’re sure to pull off a fantastic event.
Golf fundraisers are huge undertakings! Chances are, your staff could use some help with administrative tasks and day-of operations.
When you show up to your venue, you want to make sure that you have an expert volunteer force. Schedule a training session at the venue the night before your event to train your volunteers on:
With an army of prepared volunteers to help with your administrative and operational burden, your staff will be free to deal with any unexpected circumstances.
Start the day of your golf fundraiser off on the right foot by ensuring that onsite registration goes down smoothly.
Luckily, with your online event fundraising software, you don’t need to export your guest list to any third-party check-in solution — or, worse, print it out to slowly check in attendees by hand.
When checking in your donors for a golf fundraiser, you might need to consider the following:
With the right event fundraising software, all of this information and more is available in seconds from a mobile check-in station, making the check-in process quick and easy. Your golfers can get straight to the game!
Bonus tip: The best fundraising software will also facilitate day-of ticket purchases. Why leave someone out if they show up, excited to play, just because they didn’t register ahead of time?
Golf fundraisers are often paired with charity auctions, offering nonprofits a variety of avenues to collect donations. Try incorporating mobile bidding options for your golfers while they’re on the course!
But to hold a successful mobile charity auction, your bidders need to know how to participate. Everyone knows how to hold up a bidding paddle, but not everyone has used mobile bidding software before.
Demonstrate how to use your software before sending golfers to the first tee, explaining how the software handles:
Make sure a few members of your staff or volunteers familiar with the software are available on the course to troubleshoot if golfers need help.
Your guests had an amazing time. Even more importantly, you reached your fundraising goal!
Now it’s time to follow up with your golfers. Don’t let them think you’ve forgotten about them after they showed up and played for your cause.
Use these strategies to stay in the front of your donors’ minds even after they’ve left the course.
Don’t let your golf fundraiser start and end your relationship with your donors. Hopefully, you got plenty of face-time with your donors while they were paying and bidding.
Now it’s time to follow up on those relationships with an immediate message thanking them for attending. Your thank you letters, whether you send them through the mail or over email, should include personal details such as:
You should also include a survey in your thank you letters. Ask your attendees what they liked and what they would like to see next time. Fundraising and thank you letters are always an excellent opportunity to learn from your donor base and update your strategies. This can help you continually improve your fundraising events and market your next one with quotes of positive feedback!
Nothing frustrates donors more than waiting around while their financial contributions are processed.
Make sure to show your donors that you care about them enough to put their minds at ease. They will appreciate seeing their contributions promptly reflected in their banking statements!
Make sure you’re using a payment processor tailored to the needs of nonprofits, like SmartPay Anywhere by OneCause!
If you thought marketing for your nonprofit was just for before your golf fundraiser, think again!
The conclusion of a successful fundraising event provides you with an incredible opportunity to share with the world how amazing your nonprofit and your donors are. Plus, your donors love being publicly acknowledged. They’ll be looking for updates about your fundraising goal, too.
If your tournament is part of a larger campaign, create a page to host a fundraising thermometer! They’re an easy and effective tool for tracking progress, sharing on social media, and acknowledging your donors.
Take advantage of your mailing list, press releases, and especially social media profiles to share:
Keep your nonprofit in the front of your donors’ minds, and make sure your supporters who didn’t attend are convinced that they should make it next time.
Do you feel prepared to tackle your next golf fundraiser with confidence? It’ll be your best one yet!
In the meantime, read over these additional resources: