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Strategic Fundraising Group – Golf, Anyone? – A Nonprofit Primer

Strategic Fundraising Group Norman Gildin

Strategic Fundraising Group – Golf, Anyone? – A Nonprofit Primer is Norman Gildin’s take on the power of golf tournament fundraising. Here’s what Norman has to share:

It is believed that golf was invented in the 15th century as a game played on the eastern coast of Scotland. This is in an area close to the royal capital of Edinburgh. In those days, players would attempt to hit a pebble over dunes and around tracks using a bent stick or club. We have come a long way since the age of the Flintstones.

Golf was popularized through tournaments and became a well-established spectator sport in the United States by the 1920s and gained popularity ever since. It wasn’t long before nonprofits jumped onto the bandwagon and it is said that they now raise $4 billion yearly. The Ohio Golf Journal claimed that “Every year more than 12 million participants take part in 143,000 golf events at over 12,700 courses in the United States, and on average each event raises $26,400.”

Summer is as a rule the ideal time to hold a golf tournament since country clubs open up their fairways to nonprofits on Mondays, and sometimes on Thursdays. Remember this: true golfers are by and large very dedicated to the sport. I once witnessed golfers playing in the snow in Fairfield, Connecticut using white balls, no less. It doesn’t get nuttier than that, does it?

Strategic Fundraising Group – Golf, Anyone? – A Nonprofit Primer

Let me illustrate golfer fervor with a funny story.

One day, Joe and Jack are out golfing when Joe slices his ball deep into a wooded gully. He grabs his 7-iron and proceeds down the embankment into the ravine in search of his ball. The brush is quite thick, but Joe won’t give up. Suddenly, he spots a shiny object. As he draws closer, he realizes that the shiny item is a 7-iron in the hands of a skeleton lying near an old golf ball. Joe breathlessly calls out to his golfing buddy: “Hey Jack, come here. I’ve got some real trouble down here.” Jack runs over to the edge of the gully and yells out: “What’s the matter, Joe? Is everything OK?” Joe hollers back in a nervous voice. “Throw me my 8-iron; you can’t get out of here with a seven.” (LOL).

At some not-for-profit organizations, I was privileged to coordinate tourneys at the most picturesque and challenging courses throughout New York state, Florida and California. These activities were lucrative and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars. They also were an excellent way to enlist new leadership for our nonprofit. In time, more and more community charities joined in. As such, it became increasingly difficult to recruit from a limited supply of players since many supporters attended multiple golf tournaments hosted by our counterparts.

There are many compelling reasons why people choose to play in these competitions and you should expect similar reasoning to hold for your nonprofit. As a professional, it is essential to understand them if you are hoping to enroll players in your cause. A few years ago, the African American Golfer’s Digest cited some enticements including:

  1. Being asked or pressured by a peer, friend, or well-connected committee
  2. Outstanding reputation of the course
  3. SWAG bag full of goodies and superior prizes
  4. It’s a worthwhile charity (sorry, not #1)
  5. Quality tournament production values

Preparing for golf fundraisers is no different than planning for and implementing a gala. Nevertheless, there are key considerations to making it a financial success. Working with a checklist of tasks helps the fundraiser succeed.  A worksheet with assignments might include, but not be limited to, the following:

  1. Meet in advance with Course officials to confirm plans
  2. Establish sponsorship options and player couverte
  3. Set up for registration and bag tagging
  4. Identify the location for all activities
  5. Plan giveaways – marketing opportunities
  6. Coordinate food arrangements – outside and inside
  7. Organize contests that generate more revenue such as the Longest Drive; Closest to Pin; Closest to the Line; Hole-in-One
  8. Agree on play format: scramble or best ball
  9. Choose foursome and individual prizes that may be exchanged for Pro Shop gift certificates
  10. Make plans for a refreshment cart on the course
  11. Formulate tournament Awards Dinner and program details
  12. Decide on caddies – cost and gratuities
  13. Send confirming notes to all players and directions to the Club
  14. Consider insurance requirements
  15. Provide cash for miscellaneous needs
  16. Confirm locker room readiness and attendants

From the above list, awarding quality prizes is one of the most important responsibilities. This was a lesson I had to learn the hard way at my first golf tournament over 30 years ago. To attract first-rate sponsors and a field of 144 players (later even needing two courses), the rewards have to be high caliber. Not knowing then the significance of quality prizes, I decided to just award trophies to the winners. Needless to say, that didn’t go over well. Afterward, we gave all participants greatly coveted golf clubs, exclusive golf shoes and premium jackets. Once word spread, we became a popular event to attend.

The enormous amount of charitable dollars raised through golf is extraordinary. If you plan an event, “may the Fores be with you!”

Strategic Fundraising GroupAbout the author: Norman B. Gildin is the author of the recently released book on nonprofit fundraising Learn From My Experiences. He is the President of Strategic Fundraising Group whose singular mission is to assist nonprofits to raise critical funds for their organization. His website is www.normangildin.com.

Strategic Fundraising Group
11247 Bannock Avenue
Boynton Beach, Florida 33437
[email protected]

Strategic Fundraising Group – Golf, Anyone? – A Nonprofit Primer was first first posted at INSIDE CHARITY

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Jimmy LaRose
Jimmy LaRose
Jimmy LaRose’s passion for “people who give” has inspired philanthropists around the world to change the way they invest in nonprofits. His belief that donors are uniquely positioned to give charities what they truly need – leadership rather than money – is the basis for his work with individuals, governments, corporations and foundations, in the U.S., Europe, Asia & Middle East. Jimmy, in his role as author, speaker, corporate CEO & nonprofit CEO champions all of civil society’s vital causes by facilitating acts of benevolence that bring healing to humanity and advance our common good. He and his beautiful wife Kristi are citizens of the Palmetto State where they make their home in Lexington, South Carolina.

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