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Events Fundraising

How to Host a Charity Golf Tournament

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If you are looking to host the first golf tournament for your charity or in need of ideas to improve your annual event, here are some important tips. Follow them and your charity golf tournament will be a day to remember!

Set a goal for the tournament

What’s better than supporting a great cause by having a fun day out on the greens? We can’t think of much else and we’re pretty sure your supporters feel the same! That’s why golf tournaments are such a popular way to raise money for charities. But how do you host a tournament that hits your fundraising goal and leaves your guests wanting to come back? You need to have the best practices amongst charitable organizations and focus on what matters: fundraising and giving your guests a great time.

To start planning your golf tournament, set a goal for what you want to achieve from this event. This will help you measure the exact amount you want to raise and guide you in many of your planning decisions. Your goal should be specific and attainable, but also high enough for a big fundraising event like this. Properly set your goal and implement it into your planning by following our steps to hosting an event

Choose your target golf players

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One of the most important questions you need to ask is: who do I want to attend my event? If your fundraising goal is a bit lower, your tournament may be more of a family event, meaning guests will be paying out of pocket to attend. If you are going for a higher fundraising goal, you may be looking to attract corporate donors, meaning companies will be paying for the tickets. Your choice of guest will also depend on who your main donors are. For example, if you rely on many small individual donors from a close community, you will probably want to host a more family style tournament. However, if you rely on large company donations, your target guests will be corporate groups.

From there you can decide on the number of attendees you plan on having. A full course can take up to 144 players. Judge how many guests you think will make it, you can base this on your past events or by putting registration up early. This will guide you in the size of the reservation you need to make.

More research will be necessary to see if there are any other events that may be competing with your tournament. Look up other annual golf tournaments that occur in your area ! You don’t want to be on the exact same date as the largest foundation of the region. Choose a day that most  of your supporters are available. For example, May and September are often ideal because no one is on vacation.

Form a planning committee

To best organize your event, you’ll need to a core group of people to form a committee. The smaller you are, the better you can communicate and be consistent. From there, you can delegate separate tasks to others outside of this group. The committee could be made up of 5 people (this number will depend on the size of your event) that then rely on volunteers to expand their reach for certain parts of the planning. 

“It is desirable that the majority of people on the committee know the basics of the game, but there’s no need to focus solely on this. Having an array of individuals with different strengths is an asset. The committee should be made up of people who get along well and know how to work as a team. There’s no need to be a lot!”

Cyril Brossier, Organizing Member of Omnium Gabriel Dubuc

Designate members for:

  • Sponsorships (1-2 people)
    • This is a huge part of golfing events! It allows you to cut down your costs through cash or in-kind sponsorships and makes the experience more exciting for your guests.
  • Marketing and Public Relations (1-2 people)
    • Choose someone who is comfortable with promoting a more high profile event.
  • Data management (1 person)
    • Someone comfortable using computer programs to organize and store data, such as Word and Excel.
      • Excel or other spreadsheet softwares is a must for creating pivot tables and macros, which allow you to repeat complex actions on excel with the click of a button. Using these tactics to stay organized will help you save time and plan better. This could be for keeping track of registration, organizing seating for the dinner, tracking the budget and more.

Create a budget for the event

You need your budget to attain your fundraising goal or even surpass it! You’ll want to minimize your costs as much as possible. This can be done by getting sponsors. Create sponsorship packages with different tiers of perks. Make it clear what sponsors are getting for the different amounts they choose to donate. When outlining your budget, be sure to include:

  • The golf course
  • Food (will this be included in the golf club’s offer?)
  • Perks and goodies for guests
  • Alcohol
  • Any unknowns that may come up. We suggest you set aside a percentage of your budget for unplanned costs that arise later on.

Two members of the planning committee should be in charge of tracking the banking accounts for the event. Whether you already have a separate account set up for your events or you need to open a new one for the tournament, all payments made and received in the account should be monitored to make sure the budget is being respected.

You will also need to decide how much you will be charging your guests. Golf tournaments are within some of the pricier fundraising events for donors with higher ticket prices. It may come down to the type of deal you can strike with the golf course. Be sure to keep in mind the type of participant you will have. You can also do some market research to see what similar tournaments are charging for their tickets.

Choose a golf course

One thing that can make or break the success of your tournament is the golf course you choose! You want to work with one that understands the importance of your event, with staff that provides a great experience for your guests! If you can, try to choose a sought after course. This is especially important for more corporate tournaments. Again, the course you choose really depends on the type of guests you want to have, keep this in mind! It could be somewhere that is members only, which will create a unique game for attendees because they would not otherwise be able to play there.

Reach out to any contacts you may have on the boards of various golf courses. Ask about what they offer for fundraising events. Golf courses that host events often have employees dedicated to assisting you with your event, which will make your job easier!

What to consider when choosing your course

You’ll need to keep in mind certain criteria when researching the different golf courses available. You should consider:

  • Compatibility with your event. Does this course match the type of player you are trying to attract? For example, a more exclusive club may be suitable for tournaments with corporate guests.
  • Price. Does it fit your budget?
  • Accessibility. Is it close enough to the guests you want to attract? For some, making a long drive or having to book a hotel might take the fun out of their experience.

For some golf fundraisers, what’s most important is not choosing the greens, but the venue for the party afterward! This is where all of your guests will end up (keep in mind that some won’t be golfing and will only come for dinner) and where you will be having to create the fun! Your work is simple when it comes to the golf course, because your guests can entertain themselves by playing and the staff at the course will take care of the rest. At the dinner, you and your committee need to take the reigns and make it a party that your guests won’t forget.

If you’ve found a great golf course that doesn’t have the right venue dinner, you can always look elsewhere to have your evening celebrations. Try to find somewhere that isn’t too far from the course so that your guests don’t find it a hassle to travel.

When you’ve taken into account the golf course and the dinner, you will want to sign a contract with the golf course. This will assure that the event goes as plans and you settle on your expectations and the cost.

Establishing a contract with the golf course

In this contract, you’ll need to establish:

  • Date and tee time. Consider being flexible with these. If you are open to a date that is less busy for them because your attendees are retired, this may get you discounts or coupons for the event.
  • Course services: decide on what is included for each guest’s game. This could be balls, score cars, gratuities, etc.
  • Settle on the unknowns. When do they need your numbers by? Can they accommodate changes?
  • Costs:
    • Per golfer, including food and drinks
    • Decide when deposits and final payments are needed.
  • Cancellation and weather policies
    • This is especially important with the uncertainty of the pandemic. Make sure there is a clear understanding of their COVID-19 policies, in case further government sanctions are implemented, there is an outbreak at the location, you need to cancel due to the virus and more.

Getting participants to the tournament

Now it’s time to get your golfers to the event! Although not everyone plays, there are still many different actors you can target to come support your organization. Reach out and send invitations to:

  • Supporters of your cause
    • They want to support your mission, so they will participate in the event. This is where you can offer separate ticketing for avid supporters that don’t golf, such as tickets just for the dinner afterwards.
  • Avid golfers
    • They won’t look for an excuse to miss out if you tell them about the great day of golf that lies ahead. Be sure to sell it as more than just a normal day of golf. Tell them how they get to do what they love AND support a great cause. This will be a great opportunity to gain new donors.
  • Locally known personalities
    • How to make your event even more memorable? Get a local celebrity to attend! Reach out to some well known personalities in the area and let them know how they can come make a difference. If they support your cause, they will be able to attract donors that have the means to make large contributions. Reach out to athletes, TV personalities, musicians and more. Look out for those you know like to golf or who take part in many charitable events.
  • Younger people
    • For youth who may not be interested in golfing, offer tickets to the dinner afterwards. Add exciting activities like raffles, auctions, local bands and more, at a lower price. They may just hear about how much fun the day of golfing was and choose to pick up golfing for next year!

Our tip: Be sure to set incentives to get guests to buy tickets early! You will need to give a deposit and pay for the spots on the course, so you want to make sure you have a minimum of attendees. Offer early-bird prices or free raffle tickets (and promote your awesome prizes) so that people buy early. That way you can have peace of mind and your guests have it booked in their calendars.

Choosing the online platform for your tournament

Choose an online ticketing platform that fits your needs. You’ll want something that is customizable, so you can create different ticketing options. This will give your supporters the opportunity to contribute what they can. Set different ticketing prices with various packages. This could include:

  • Full cart
  • Half a cart
  • Individuals
  • Dinner tickets only
  • Donation amounts (for those who won’t be attending or wish to make additional donations)

Our tip: You might be unsure about the amount you can issue on your donors’ tax receipts because of the many benefits guests receive during the event. The Government of Canada provides a clear breakdown of what to consider when issuing tax receipts for your charity golf tournament. They use great examples to show what should be deducted from the receipt and what doesn’t need to be included. Be sure to check it out!

Most ticketing platforms will cost you 7% of the pricing. With the Simplyk ticketing, no fee is charged so 100% of what is paid actually goes to you.

Golf tournament Ticketing - Simplyk
Montreal Thoracic Surgery Foundation customized ticketing powered by Simplyk.

Creating more fundraising opportunities

Make your tournament even more impactful by adding additional opportunities to give. If they are original, it also make it the tournament more unforgettable:

  • Mulligan packages: Mulligans are “do-overs” for your golfers. Allow them to redo a bad swing and make packages for multiple mulligans. For example:
    • Mulligans for 5$ each or 5 for 20$
      • Create fun cards using images, golf puns or jokes to be given to judges when a mulligan is used by a player. These cards can also be labeled as raffle tickets, so if the player doesn’t use them all up on the greens, they have a chance to win a prize at dinner.
  • Skills contests: charge an amount to players to participate and have prizes for the winners. Be sure to have contests that reward all skill levels. Skills can be:
    • Chipping
    • Closest to the pin
    • Long drives
    • Ball in the pond (allows those with less experience the chance to win!)
  • Challenge your players to “Beat the professional” and charge an amount to participate.
    • Have a pro golfer or student-athlete set up on a hole. When players get to that hole, they can pay to challenge the pro. Have a prize for the winners, for example: 10 raffle tickets.
Other ideas to provide a great experience for guests:

Have a massage station: A full day of golf can sometimes be long and grueling on players’ bodies. They need to be able to finish their game and be ready for the dinner later that night! Set up a relaxation and massage station at one of the holes. Players can choose to get a massage instead of playing the hole. Contact a physio or massage therapist that you know and is willing to volunteer their time.

Have a refreshment/drinks station on the course: You want your players to stay comfortable and not take the game too seriously. It’s for a good cause after all. Set up a drinks and snack station about halfway through the course so players can take a break and unwind. Know a local distillery that needs publicity? Invite them to set up a stand and hand out their newest products for free.

Managing Volunteers for the event

You’ll need volunteers throughout the event to make it run smoothly. You’ll need to plan their tasks and schedules.

Set up at the golf course

Designate volunteers to set up for the day. The staff at the course can help guide you in how to set up, but be sure to prepare with:

  • A welcome committee. Designate a group of volunteers in charge of making sure the arrival of guests is well coordinated.
  • Tents to set up around the course for arrival and sign in, rest stations and fundraising activities.
  • Cash boxes for the fundraising activities. Identify volunteers in charge of supervising them.
  • Goodies for the golf carts. Set up each one so players have everything they need for a great game.
  • Placing signage. Since attendees may not know the golf club well, we suggest you make signs (include your organization’s logo for an added touch) to help players find their way around!
  • Any in-kind donations and labels for players’ lockers.

Preparing the dinner

The dinner portion will need to be set up and decorated so your guests have a great time. This is where you can designate a committee for decorations, a raffle, auction and any other fun activities.

Another important part of the dinner will be the seating for the meal. This may prove trickier than you might think, because additional guests are coming and golf quatuor may not be able to be seated together. Try to have friends and companies seated at the same table, along with large sponsors close to the main stage or dancefloor.

Fundraising activities

Have 2 volunteers for each game or activity set up on the course. Make sure there is one person supervising that all games are going well and that volunteers are being supported and receiving snacks, refreshments and shield from the sun.

Also have volunteers selling additional refreshments to players. Selling beer and other alcohol can be a great way to increase fundraising during the event, especially if an in-kind donation has been received from a sponsor.

Social distancing your golf tournament

With COVID-19, you may choose not to organize a regular golf tournament. A great alternative would be to have a distanced event! 

Have each golfer play at their own local course. They can tally up their score and share it online. Use an app like Foursum to track all the rounds and connect with other players. Use your platform to update how players are doing throughout the day. Have them send videos of their shots or pictures of their course to be shared with all the players! If attending a course isn’t possible, get creative and have guests challenge each other to play online golf on apps like Mini Golf King.

Host a dinner portion over zoom and reveal the scores and award prizes to the winners. Include an online auction or raffle to create more fundraising opportunities. Charge a rate for each participant, lower than the normal ticketing price. Get inspired by other online donation activities and good practices in our guide to virtual fundraising.

Now that you know how to plan your event, you can get to it! Keep in mind that you want to provide a fun experience for your donors, so it should be fun for your organization too! If you are having a good time, so will your guests. Don’t forget that the dinner is just as important, if not more important than the day of golf. This is where you can really focus on celebrating your cause and your donors as well as highlighting the great work you have done in the past.

Looking for more tips for your events? Check out our Latest posts.

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