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Fundraising Event Ideas: The Golf Tournament

by | March 12, 2024

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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!

Rather than focusing on the technical aspects of running events, this post will focus on the revenue side, with a particular focus on sponsorship.

How to Build an Effective Golf Tournament Sponsorship Package

Even if you feel like sponsoring one golf tournament means you’ve sponsored them all, that kind of attitude can be a disservice to your sponsor. Tournament organizers have different needs, and if you work with one organizer for long enough, you’ll discover their needs also gradually evolve over the working relationship.

I recommend following this tailored approach to golf tournament sponsorship designed to help you get to know and accommodate your sponsor’s needs.

Begin with Audience Research

Strong audience data is the foundation of any successful sponsorship. Your audience is your top asset and what will appeal to your sponsors, so you must know them inside out, right-side in, backwards, forwards, and every which way.

When seeking golf tournament sponsorship, the audience you should focus on is already hyper-targeted. You need golf types. They don’t have to be professional players, of course, but those who like to spend their spare time playing the game.

Those who work in sports, whether manufacturing supplies, apparel, or equipment, are also a viable part of your audience.

How do you find them? There’s only one reliable method, and that’s through an audience survey. Keep the questions short and focused on golf for the sake of this sponsorship opportunity and see how many bites you get.

Of course, it’s not enough to mention to a prospective sponsor that your audience likes golf. I mean, lots of people like golf.

You need specifics into who these people are beyond their passion for the game. Where do they live? What industry do they work in? How much money do they make? Are they married? Do they have kids? What other kinds of brands do they like?

This kind of ultra-targeted information might seem extraneous, but it’s anything but. You need a full profile of your audience that’s hyper-divided into small segments according to needs, interests, and pain points. That’s how you appeal to sponsors.

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Identify Your Prospects 

Who should you target for sponsorship? It goes beyond who has the deepest pockets, even though that’s an important element of fundraising.

You also need audience alignment. That’s the best way to ensure your audience will engage with the sponsor and achieve the objectives you promise.

Consider what your goals are and what a sponsor can do to accomplish those goals. Also, strongly think about gravitating toward the brands your audience mentioned in the survey if they’re available.

Schedule a Discovery Session

How do you prioritize a fundraising event sponsor’s happiness? By getting to understand them on a more profound level.

You should have done some cursory research into golf tournament sponsors while in the prospecting phase. However, there’s only so much a company will mention on its LinkedIn.

Like on all forms of social media, they want to put on a good front, so you’ll never hear about sagging sales numbers or revenue falling under the projected amount. You just won’t.

And you need that kind of information, because without understanding the challenges your sponsors face, you can’t assist them in overcoming them. That’s right, sponsorship is not an arrangement where a sponsor gives you cash for your fundraiser and expects nothing in return.

It’s about marketing incomes, and it’s your job to drive them. You can only do that when you have the full picture, which you can get during a discovery session.

Asking smart, thoughtful questions is key to getting the kind of valuable info that will help you create assets and activations to serve your sponsor.

Ideate Activations and Assets

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 emails sent to invitees and attendees
  • Custom signage]

This is an excellent starting point as you craft ideas but remember that all sponsor needs are different. Just because some sponsors will agree to the above assets doesn’t mean they’ll suit everyone.

That brings me to my next point…

Customize Your Sponsorship Package 

Here’s another major takeaway for golf tournament fundraiser sponsorship: Customize. Everything.

As I always say on the blog, if your sponsorship package is truly customized, you don’t need to mention it anywhere across the pages. Does a luxury car need to tell you it’s high-end? No. You know by looking at it.

It’s the same situation here. A sponsor can quickly tell if your assets and activations are customized, or if you’re pulling out the same tired assets and activations you’ve tried with every sponsor you’ve worked with in the past.

Value Your Golf Tournament Sponsorship Property

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 giveaway 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 goodwill 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.

Achieve Objectives 

Recalling that sponsorship is a two-way street, you must achieve the objectives for your sponsor that you promised, whether that’s a shoutout from the podium, an activation booth in a premium spot at the event, or branded golf uniforms or equipment.

If you don’t fulfill your end of the bargain, you’ve essentially taken the money and run. This will hurt your relationship with that sponsor. Since your reputation can precede you, you might notice that you struggle to find future working relationships.

Always promise the objectives that are within your reasonable ability to achieve. The contract might make certain allowances for delayed or non-delivered objectives, but if it doesn’t, you could violate it and risk legal action against you.

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Discuss Renegotiation 

Was the golf tournament a rousing success? Both parties might be interested in working together again. After you wrap up the event, you should sit down and put together a fulfillment report outlining all the terms of the agreement.

A sponsorship fulfillment report, also referred to as a post-event report, details your audience data, includes photos of the event, and reviews all your deliverables and whether they were achieved.

It’s a great refresher for you and your sponsor. You can use the data as case studies the next time you get involved in golf tournament sponsorship. In the meantime, you can rely on the document to renegotiate with your sponsor.

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!


How Much Does It Cost to Sponsor a Golf Tournament?

The fees vary depending on both parties involved in the sponsorship. Costs can start in the four or five figures and even cost upward of six figures for high-level sponsorship between major brands.

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How Much Can You Make from a Golf Tournament Fundraiser?

This also varies, but usually at least $5,000. If you’re negotiating for less than that, sponsorship isn’t necessarily worthwhile. Golf tournaments can sometimes bring in up to $100,000 and even more depending on the extent of the event.

How Does a Golf Tournament Raise Money? 

Golf tournaments receive money from auctions, contests, sponsored golf games, donations, and direct funding.

Wrapping Up 

Golf tournaments presents an excellent opportunity to get involved in event sponsorship. Knowing your audience, understanding your goals, and customizing your assets and activations based on discoveries during an initial sponsorship meeting will ensure both parties are happy.