Fundraising Event Ideas: The Golf Tournament

I have been getting some great feedback from readers who followed my fundraising event ideas: sponsorship series with requests for more information around specific types of events. Since virtually every charity and corporate entity thinks of galas and golf tournaments when they think fundraising events (and I have run my fare share), why not start there!

Today’s post will focus on the golf tournament as a fundraising event. Rather than focusing on the technical aspects of running events, this post will focus on the revenue side, with a particular focus on sponsorship.

The Standard Golf Tournament Sponsorship Package

First let’s talk about some of the typical sponsorship assets you find within golf tournaments:

  • Title sponsorship
  • Hole, tee and green sponsors
  • Golf cart sponsors
  • Food and drink sponsors: wine, dinner, water bottles etc
  • Branding opportunities on tickets, at the table, invitations, prizes
  • Speaking opportunities at the event
  • Custom/branded e-mails sent to invitees and attendees
  • Custom signage

If you’ve sponsored one golf tournament you’ve sponsored them all, which is why customizing your sponsorship package and really getting to know your prospects will help you stand out. Ask questions and find out what sponsors are looking for beyond the standard sponsorship package and engage them early in the process. Your prospects will likely be getting dozens, maybe even hundreds, of golf tournament packages that all say the same thing, stand out and be different and start with a conversation.

6 Tips: How to Create a Sponsorship Package

Having run more golf tournaments than I can count, I have seen some trends and sponsorship packages ideas that I think are worth discussing here.

Sponsorship tip #1: You can have more than one hole sponsorship opportunity for each hole! The same hole can have a tee off sponsor and a green sponsor. I’ve done multiple tee off and multiple green sponsors on the same hole. While a low level sponsorship cost, they add up fast this way. Be honest and clear that you are doing this and be careful with conflicting companies but with some planning, this is a great way to increase your revenue.

Sponsorship tip #2: An in kind donation is NOT a sponsorship! Giving you the water for free, or the wine for that matter, seems like a good idea because you lower your costs but things are not often as they first appear. What makes you more money, not paying $500 for wine with dinner or paying $500 for the wine and then finding a sponsor to give you $3000 to be the wine sponsor?

Sponsorship tip #3: People spend a ton of time building prizes for their tournaments. Make sure to include the right to give a high-end gift, or many mid sized gifts, to the prize table as part of your sponsorship agreements. I can’t tell you how many iPads and free trips I’ve received from my sponsors as another way to activate their sponsorship. Two birds with one stone!

Sponsorship tip #4: Some events only allow you to play if you are a sponsor- no foursomes are sold directly! The sponsors then get to theme a hole and enter a team or two. It makes for a cool fundraising event full of activities that you don’t pay for (gotta love sponsorship activation!) and you don’t find yourself scrambling to sell tickets to fill the course.

Sponsorship tip #5: This one is not strictly about sponsorship but about the flow of the event itself. Instead of having events at select holes where you charge $5 per play (meaning you hit your attendees up multiple times) sell them a VIP pass at registration. This let’s them pay for all games on the course up front, let’s them use credit card and also let’s you sell them your first round of raffle tickets.

Sponsorship tip #6: Be strategic about branding and logo placement. I have seen instances where the title sponsor’s recognition was trumped by the “name tag sponsor” because they were recognized on every name tag while the title sponsor only had stage visibility at the end of the event. I even heard people throughout the event calling the name tag sponsor the title sponsor!

Sponsorship Package Valuation

The last piece I will leave you with if you want to know how to get corporate sponsors is about valuation. Determining what your assets are worth is hard work, how much exactly is a speaking opportunity worth? Make sure you assign a value to every benefit you offer. Sometimes a sponsor will ask you to throw in a perk, like adding a give away to the delegate bag or at the table setting. You want to know exactly what you are giving away, whether or not you should be giving it away for free and what opportunity cost comes with it. Maybe the things you are giving away for free are your most valuable assets for your sponsorship package!

In addition to this, most people think of event attendees as the exclusive target audience in their sponsorship package. If you send branded invites to your entire database, post something in your newsletter and in social media (and your sponsors do the same) then your sponsors are getting tremendous exposure and good will among your stakeholders, even those who don’t golf. If you offer this type of a benefit, make sure you know what it’s worth before you simply add it to the title sponsorship (or any other level for that matter) as a free perk.