How to Prepare for Your Golf Fundraising Event

Brooke Battle
Written by :

Brooke Battle

Categories: Event Tips

Golf tournaments are more than just a day on the greens. In our experience, a sunny, spring golf tournament is a welcomed day out of the office after winter - a gift! Like all fundraising events, they require planning. In this guide, we'll walk you through the steps to host a successful golf tournament fundraising event that leaves participants ready to return next year.

Set Goals

Before you tee off on planning, it's crucial to define the purpose of your fundraising event and set clear goals. Who is the target audience for this golf event? Events serve your fundraising strategy by helping you reach new audiences, solidify relationships and stay connected with donors. Most golf tournaments focus their outreach on corporate sponsorships or an existing network of golfers. We'll offer ideas to help you go beyond the golf community below.

Assemble Your Team

It should go without saying but you need help. Recruit volunteers who are connected to the golf community, bring corporate sponsor connections, share enthusiasm for your cause or the organizational skills to support day-of coordination. Consider partnering with a golf organization that handles all of the day-of logistics - meaning you bring the registrations, a check and they handle the rest!

Choose a Date and Location

Selecting the right date and golf course is essential for success. In many communities, there are golf courses that are unique to play or provide a particular fun. Even if it's more expensive, consider investing in your golf experience to ensure players return year after year. When choosing a venue don't forget the following: (1) Banquet or reception space, (2) Outdoor space for evening cocktails and networking, (3) Internet connection, (4) Parking, (5) Walking trails (if you want to add a walk component), (6) Size ( can it handle your event), (7) Food options and (8) Availability of tables/chairs/tents if needed

Corporate Sponsorships are the backbone of a successful golf fundraising event. These are mutually beneficial as they provide a chance for employees and/clients to get out of the office. You can boost your corporate sponsorships by gaining the support and participation of C-level execs. This will increase the networking capacity and exclusivity of your event. Reach out to local businesses, corporations, and individuals who may be interested in sponsoring a team, sponsoring a hole, providing prizes, or sponsoring the beverage cart (everyone LOVES the beverage cart!).

Be sure to list your sponsorship levels, benefits and a clear online purchase opportunity.

Register Golf Teams and Participants

Make registration easy and accessible by offering online registration through an event website designed for golf events. The golf event website should clearly outline registration fees, a path to purchase online, a method for team captains (or sponsors) to register the members of the team, and other opportunities to purchase mulligans or enter contests. Provide participants with all necessary information, including tournament rules, schedule, and attire guidelines.

Utilize a Golf Website

Utilizing a golf website for your fundraising event can greatly simplify the registration process and make it more convenient for participants. Swell Fundraising provides an affordable, golf website for nonprofits that includes features specifically designed for golf events. These features include online registration, the ability to create custom sponsorship levels and benefits, the ability to track and manage participant information and an opportunity to gather online donations from supporters who cannot attend the event. Remember - all events are fundraising campaigns.

Plan the Tournament Format and Activities

Choose a tournament format that suits your participants' skill levels and preferences, whether it's a traditional stroke play, scramble, or best ball format. Incorporate fun activities like longest drive contests, closest-to-the-pin challenges, or hole-in-one competitions to keep players engaged and entertained throughout the day. You can rely on volunteers with expertise in golf or the venue coordinator.

Be sure to gather important player information in the registration process.

Coordinate Logistics

Coordinating the logistics for your golf event is absolutely essential. Consider hiring an event coordinator so that you are free to greet and cultivate donors. Golf event logistics can include many things from transportation, registration tables, decor, food and more.

Be sure to setup the registration in a visible area with plenty of room for players to network while also checking in. The event registration process should rely on a check-in app to speed up the process and allow your volunteers to check in guests with an ipad rather than sitting behind a table.

Create a Memorable Event

On the day of the tournament, focus on delivering a memorable experience for participants and attendees. Welcome players with a warm reception, provide them with event swag or goodie bags, and offer refreshments throughout the course. Set up signage and banners to personalize the event and create a festive atmosphere. Consider hosting a post-event awards ceremony or dinner to celebrate the winners and show appreciation to all participants. Don't forget to capture the memories by hiring a professional photographer or videographer to document the event.

How to Reach Beyond the Golf Community

One issue with golf fundraising events is that most do not reach your most passionate, individual donors (unless you're a golf related nonprofit like First Tee).   The golf participants are often there to meet clients and/or enjoy a nice day with co-workers.    So, how can you engage a wider network with your golf fundraising event.  

One obvious answer is to lean harder into the lunch or dinner post tournament. When planning the post-party utilize the same tactics you would with a stand-alone luncheon fundraiser.   You can honor a corporate citizen, individuals and board members or bring in a speaker that has a wide reach (perhaps someone who loves golf too).    Then, simply sell tables and tickets separately to this event to reach those donors.   

Spa day, Get Healthy at the Course (walk), Learn to Play Golf class, Bocce / Cornhole games are all ideas we've seen implemented alongside a golf fundraising event.   Again, when determining the idea to reach more donors don't forget the goals - who are you trying to reach.  

Finally, don't forget pre-event fundraising ideas.   Consider prizes for teams that raise the most money prior to the event and equip those teams with the stories to tell about your cause.  You don't have to be a golfer to help your company team win.  

Say Thank YOU!

After the tournament concludes, don't forget to express gratitude to participants, sponsors, volunteers, and supporters who made the event possible. Send thank-you notes, share photos and highlights from the event on social media, and provide updates on the impact of their contributions. Follow up with donors to acknowledge their generosity and keep them engaged with your cause.

And just remember, if this is your first golf event, the second year is always easier!