How to organize a golf tournament fundraiser in 10 steps

The legs of golfers lined up preparing to swing at nouns of golf balls.
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A charity golf tournament brings people together for two important reasons: to support an important cause, and to get people excited about it via a much-loved sport. Guests actually enjoy attending these types of fundraisers, which is why they become annual events for many organizations.

You don’t have to be a golf pro to organize a golf tournament. All you need is a little planning know-how, our guide on how to run a golf tournament, and advice from an expert like Kara Hoover, the Marketing Event Director at Press Ganey | Forsta and a volunteer for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital golf tournaments.

Meet the expert
Kara Hoover is a marketing event director at Press Ganey | Forsta and volunteer for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Benefits of running a charity golf tournament

When choosing between hosting a golf tournament and other types of fundraisers, such as silent auctions or charity galas, consider these benefits before making your decision:

  • A golf tournament runs itself: Aside from the actual tournament part—which most venues or golf management software can help you with—golf tournament planning is just like any other type of event planning. Once you have the basic elements mapped out, the day-of details should run smoothly.
  • It’s a great spring or summer fundraiser: Your biggest fundraising event of the year doesn’t need to be relegated to the holiday season when you also have a summer golf fundraiser on the calendar. When guests get to be outside and enjoy themselves, they will build lasting memories with your organization, and you’ll be able to build relationships with them throughout the year.
  • You can raise a lot more money than with other events: You’ll find that golf tournaments provide many additional opportunities for giving. You can host contests, raffles, and auctions alongside the buy-ins for the main event.
  • Golf tournaments attract different donors and sponsors: If your fundraising efforts could use a larger variety of sponsors and donors, a golf tournament might be the solution. You’ll attract more corporate and sports-minded sponsorships with a golf tournament than with another casino night or meet-and-greet cocktail party.
  • People give more when they’re having fun: The busiest people in the world relax when they play golf—and so will your guests. If there’s a theme, then all of your guests (including non-golfers) can enjoy the festivities. Ms. Hoover suggests that the secret to a successful golf tournament is fun. “Having a theme with an immersive and fun experience is so important,” she says. “If you can tap into those key elements, your event will be successful.”
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How to organize a charity golf tournament

You’ve decided to host a charity golf tournament—now the real fun begins! Keep your event planning on par with this 10-step golf tournament planning template.

1. Set your goal

As with any fundraising event, you need to establish why you’re organizing a charity golf tournament. Are you raising money for a specific purpose, or are you creating a fundraising tradition for your organization?

“We always tap into the ‘why we’re doing this,’” says Ms. Hoover. “Everyone is engaged and feels a sense of responsibility to meet the goals.”

Common goals for charity golf tournaments include:

  • A financial goal ($10,000, for example)
  • Raising money for a specific purpose, such as a charitable organization or a big purchase for the org (like a renovation)
  • Sponsorship goals, like recruiting more sponsors than before
  • More player sign-ups
  • Relationship building, such as forming relationships with donors and/or golf courses for future events

Once you decide what your goals are, set up a committee to help you attain it. Appoint a chairperson as the main organizer and add other committee members to manage financial and marketing goals. This ensures that each part of your organization is represented and invested in your fundraising efforts.

2. Reach out to sponsors

An invitation with colorful golf balls and a green envelope; the logos of several businesses with the title OUR VALUED SPONSORS.
Mulligan” by kate spade new york for Paperless Post

 

A large amount of your golf tournament fundraising comes from sponsors. Whether it’s a golf course donating the use of its grounds, a corporate sponsor giving a set amount of money, or community members offering goods and services to the event, these sponsorships are key to the success of your campaign.

Remember that committee you set up? They can be helpful here, too! Assign one committee member to handle sponsor communication. Then, help them think outside the box when reaching out to organizations you haven’t spoken to before, including sports shops and local golf clubs. Many sponsors are happy to direct their charitable spending to a good cause—especially if they can get publicity in return.

3. Establish a budget

Three golf carts drive on the road of a golf course.

Once you have sponsorships lined up, it’s time to create a budget. Take the sponsorships you’ve secured and subtract them from the rest of the costs needed to host your golf tournament, including:

  • Venue fee
  • Vendor services
  • Golf cart rentals
  • Decorations
  • Credit card processing fees
  • Swag
  • Prizes
  • Staffing and security, if needed

Once you have your final allotted budget, weigh it against the funds you’re planning to raise from player entry fees and expected donations to ensure you’re making a profit for your organization.

4. Find your venue and vendors

Look into local golf clubs and courses that meet your budget or facilities that may be interested in offering their courses for free as a sponsorship opportunity. If your event involves travel, find a golf course near hotel accommodations so it’s easy for guests to attend.

Unlike many other fundraising events, a golf tournament may not require outside vendors. See if your golf course includes food and beverage packages when you book with them, then coordinate with outside vendors if they don’t. If you need a DJ or Master of Ceremonies, see if the venue provides one, or ask someone in your organization to step up to the mic.

5. Set the date

Secure your preferred date after checking with your venue as soon as possible so they don’t get booked for another event.

Keep the weather in mind—no one wants to plan a golf fundraiser only to cancel it because of rain, so pick a time of year when the weather is predictably sunny and moderate—and see if it’s possible to book a rain date, just in case.

6. Send invitations

A huge benefit of a golf tournament is the potential guest list. You can invite more people than with other events, and you can become more integrated into the community and tap into fundraising networks that will become frequent and reliable contacts for your organization long-term.

Proactively send invitations to:

  • Community members
  • Owners of local businesses
  • Influential members of your organization (or similar organizations)
  • VIPs in your field
  • Local celebrities, if you have a contact

Choose from Paperless Post’s selection of customizable golf tournament invitations. You can use your organization’s logo, images, and brand colors. For family events, collect headcounts for children and adults to keep your RSVP count accurate and your catering order on track.

Don’t forget to thank your sponsors for their participation with a Sponsors Block.

7. Promote your event

It’s time to enlist your local social media experts! Whether you’re relying on digital marketing or other event marketing strategies, promoting your event is a crucial way to get more people to attend your golf tournament—besides those you sent invitations to already. Ask your sponsors to share the event on their social media channels to get more reach.

If your target audience doesn’t use social media, employ promotion strategies like:

  • Flyers
  • Handouts
  • Local advertisements
  • Product giveaways

You can also ask local golf clubs if you can promote your event on their community boards or in newsletters. While you’re at it, ask if they’d like to be an event sponsor!

8. Set up the tournament

Now it’s time to organize the golf tournament itself. Golf experts in your organization or planning committee may have opinions on how the tournament goes, so let them work out that part (or employ specialized golf tournament planning software, if needed).

Even though golf is the main event of your fundraiser, it shouldn’t be the only thing to do. “You should have events for non-golfers too, especially if you’re planning an overnight event or one at a destination,” says Ms. Hoover. “We typically have golf during the day, and then we have other events at night where everybody’s involved. The key is having something for everyone.”

Think about activities for:

  • Families
  • Non-golfing community members
  • Golfers who’d like to stick around once the tournament is over

And keep your guests’ budgets in mind, too. “Make sure that there are different ways to give for different budgets,” Ms. Hoover adds. “You can have different levels of tickets for entry, easy grabs like baskets of stuffed animals for sale, or a jewelry pool where you give $75 and get to pull a box that might be worth more. Those kinds of things are fun, and they’re an immediate gratification for people.”

9. Host a great event

You’ve planned a successful golf tournament, but it’s not quite time to relax—the day of the event is full of small details. Within your initial planning committee, commission a day-of committee, as well. These organizers are in charge of keeping details from slipping through the cracks, including:

  • Last-minute parking emergencies
  • Lost guests
  • Equipment problems
  • Food and beverage coordination

Now that everyone on the committee has a job, you’re free to make the fundraising connections you need during the event—which may have been one of your goals for the fundraiser in the first place.

Event management doesn’t stop when the event starts, either—the Paperless Post app offers a convenient Guest Check-In feature so you can track which guests arrive at the event (and when).

Paperless Post’s Guest Check-In feature as displayed on an iPhone; a square invitation with a pattern on the left of white balls on gold golf tees and a matching envelope.
Tee Party” by kate spade new york for Paperless Post

10. Follow up with guests

Congratulations! You’ve thrown an incredible event, and guests are already asking about next year’s tournament. Maintain those connections by filtering your Guest Check-In status to see who actually showed up, and sending thank you cards right after the fundraiser.

Announce winners of the tournament on social media as well as raffle and auction winners. Post pictures and videos of the event on your organization’s social media platforms as well—and tag attendees in them.

A card reads THANK YOU repeatedly in gray and green script font with a white and green envelope; a robin’s egg blue card reads THANK YOU several times in rainbow block letters.
A Thousand Thanks” by Paperless Post and “Can’t Thank You Enough” by kate spade new york for Paperless Post

 

Make sure to send thank you cards to sponsors and post public thank yous as well. If sponsors feel valued, they’ll be more likely to join you for your next golf tournament, which will cut down on your planning time (and your budget questions) next year.

Make your event a hole-in-one with Paperless Post

With beautiful invitation templates, effortless event management tools, and expert planning guides, Paperless Post makes every event easy to organize. From charity golf tournament planning to setting up a backyard barbecue, we have the tools you need to ensure your occasion goes off without a hitch.

Find the perfect fundraising idea for your next charity event, no matter the size or scale, and learn how to word corporate invitations with professional messages for any audience. At Paperless Post, we know that party planning can be serious business—but it can also be a lot of fun.