As one of the most popular types of charity events, golf tournaments let participants live out their PGA Championship fantasies — all while giving to a meaningful cause.
Use these golf fundraising tips to discover how to use the green to earn a little green for nonprofit goals and causes, including steps to plan and host a successful charity golf tournament, plus ways to raise money beyond the course.
Golf Tournament Planning Checklist
The Best Format for a Golf Tournament Fundraiser
How To Raise Funds Through Your Golf Tournament
Why You Should Use Software To Host Your Charity Golf Tournament
Demo Golf Fundraising Software
Golf tournament planning guide checklist
Golf fundraisers provide a popular event type that, when well-planned, secures generous funds for your organization.
Consider these essentials early on to host a successful fundraising tournament:
Planning for your golf tournament should begin a minimum of six to nine months in advance. The sooner you start creating event materials, finding sponsors, booking vendors and registering guests, the smoother your end event will be.
Consider creating a golf tournament committee comprised of both staff and volunteers to coordinate the following.
- Venue: Search for area golf courses to host your event. Both country clubs, as well as public greens, traditionally offer external event reservations. Given your nonprofit status, try to negotiate fees and total billings.
- Date: Many country clubs close on Mondays, making this a prime day of the week to book your outing for a private course.
- Budget: Typical expenses with renting a golf course include booking fees, a green fee per participating golfer, catering, snacks, beverages, golf car rentals and, sometimes, a staffing fee. You can attempt to negotiate the latter by using volunteers.
- Invites and promotion: Set up a dedicated golf charity event page on your website where participants can register. Advertise the big day on social media, in local newspapers and radio. Submit features about your nonprofit and upcoming events into other area publications, then post flyers and ads at local businesses. Send specialized advertising e-campaigns to your professional and personal networks via email — anything you can do to spread the word about your tournament and its cause.
- Ticket/tournament type: There are a handful of golf fundraiser formats to select for your tournament. The most fundamental is an open green. Guests purchase event tickets, then hit the course to flex their fairway muscles alone or in self-arranged groups. Other golf tournaments pick a more coordinated approach, organizing “best-ball” or “scramble”-style outings for added competition and fun.
Raising money on the golf course doesn’t have to start and stop on the green. There are several ways to increase fundraising efforts while providing a more dynamic day for participants. Consider these charity golf tournament fundraising ideas.
- Golfing packages: Consider creating multiple golf packages, including ones for individuals, couples, groups of four as well as a family ticket. Offering various packages also allows you to incentivize group participation, upping your event’s attendees. For example, a standalone ticket could be $100, but a four-person package deal is $350, saving registrants money while drawing more people to your cause.
- Additional contests/games: Build mini-events such as games or small, themed competitions into your golf tournament. You can place games out on the green or host smaller contests back in the clubhouse. Guests will enjoy all the opportunities to let loose and have fun for a good cause, while you enrich your event.
- Raffles: Organize a raffle to take place at the end of the tournament. Guests can purchase raffle tickets ahead of time and during the tournament for a chance to win appealing prizes procured from personal and business donations.
- Online and in-person donations: Set up a small, though visible, area soliciting onsite donations within the venue’s clubhouse or near your registration tables. Use this donation station to promote your charity overall, including future fundraisers, strategic funding goals and other ways for attendees to get involved.
The best format for a golf tournament fundraiser
Besides an open golf tournament, there are two popular formats for hosting a charity golf event: best ball and scramble. Here is how both formats work for golf fundraising.
- Best-ball tournament: Best-ball tournaments allow participants to play all 18 holes with their balls. However, at the end of each hole, the lowest score from the group — aka the best ball — is the only one that counts. Best-ball tournaments, therefore, necessitate teams. A group of four golfers can split into pairs, with each side competing against each other. Similarly, individual groups of two, three or four golfers can comprise a team to compete against others on the green, with all scorecards tallied back at the clubhouse.
- Scramble tournament: In a scramble tournament, players individual tee off at the onset of each hole. After that opening drive, players assess who made the best shot. The rest of the players then move their balls to play from that prime location, with rounds continuing in this fashion for all 18 holes.
People often conflate these two types of golfing. However, they’re two separate formats, each of which has pros and cons your planning committee should weigh depending on your expected crowd.
- Best-ball tournaments can be more competitive and skills-driven: Teams with more experienced golfers will have an advantage over those with novice players, sometimes requiring handicaps placed on seasoned teams.
- Scramble tournaments are less competitive, but faster: Their setup is more approachable to players of all skill levels, though some may find the pace too quick and easygoing.
How to raise additional funds through your golf tournament
Ensure fundraising energy stays high on and off the course with these extra event revenue generators.
1. Offer a simultaneous skills workshop
Charity golf tournaments may be unappealing to anyone who isn’t “good” at golf or familiar with its rules. Rather than alienating swaths of potential participants, create a concurrent golf skills workshop with tickets at a fraction of the cost, yet that is still open to food, beverages, raffles and event games.
People can pick the main activity most appealing to them — heading to the green or taking a group skills workshop. Inquire with your venue about the possibility of pro bono instructors teaching the class, or search your area for local pros, coaches and more who would be willing to volunteer their talents for the day.
2. Set up a cash bar golf cart
For hungry or thirsty players, consider stocking a golf cart with snacks, treats and beverages available for purchase. A volunteer can drive the cart around the course, conveniently bringing refreshments to your players. Or you can set up shop around the ninth hole, offering players a rejuvenating “halftime” break before diving back into their game.
3. Create “mini-course” contests
Games sprinkled across the tournament and back in the clubhouse are a perfect way to entertain guests before and after the formal tournament. It’s also a great draw for players’ families, who may also be in attendance but not participating in any golfing.
Popular golf-themed games include hole-in-one contests as well as golf “darts,” where guests putt golf balls to score on a specially designed, tiered-point surface mirroring a dartboard. Longest-drive competitions also let players compete to see who can hit the farthest.
These games can be free for specific tiers of ticket holders. Or you can charge raffle tickets for participation, with guests able to purchase raffle tickets onsite for further fundraising.
4. Let players buy mulligans
Purchasing mulligans is a win-win for all parties. Mulligans give players wiggle room, allowing participants to re-take miffed shots of their choosing. You can sell mulligan vouchers individually, or include them in specific package ticket deals. They make a friendly and convenient fundraising vehicle perfect for the occasion — and are perfect for preserving some egos.
5. Get corporate sponsors for a golf tournament
Consider soliciting course sponsorships with area businesses or private donors. Those who donate to your charity event as a sponsor will, in return, have a hole named after them, complete with signage, flags or banners placed at the tee of every new hole advertising their name or brand.
Sponsorships from local supporters are a great way to organically, yet transparently, increase golf outing raised funds. Plus, you have plenty of room for those sponsors, meaning at least 18 new sources of added donation revenue. You can also offer in-kind sponsorship packages, which allow companies to provide valuable goods such as prizes in place of cash.
6. Sell nonprofit merchandise
Create event T-shirts and similar apparel for sale both before and at the golf tournament. Brainstorm other branded merchandise for your charity, then set up a “storefront” near the venue registration tables where attendees can easily see goods for sale. Make sure to advertise that all proceeds from merchandise sales go directly to nonprofit causes.
7. Offer ticket packages
Ticket packages encourage group signups, increasing total event attendance. Rather than make all guests purchase individual tickets, packages offer tiered group, pair and family deals at favorable prices.
In both cases — individual or package deals — your nonprofit still makes money and positions itself for a highly successful charity outing.
Why use software for hosting a charity golf event?
Using software designed specifically for nonprofit fundraising makes planning, managing, promoting and day-of running events go more smoothly.
Charity golf tournament software works as a centralized planning system. It reduces the need for multiple computer applications and document-storing systems to organize vendors, registration, ticketing, advertising campaigns, event communications and more. These are the essential functions to orchestrating a fundraiser to begin with, often falling on the shoulders of a handful of staff. By using golf fundraising software, you simplify and expedite all those tasks.
Key features of charity golf tournament fundraising software
Fundraising software with the following features dramatically reduces the manual planning and workloads involved in running a successful golf tournament fundraiser. Instead, you and your staff can focus on higher-order work, liberated from menial administrative and documentation tasks.
Look for the following features when picking an event-management suite for your nonprofit.
Customizable software lets you use the exact tools relevant for your nonprofit’s scale and types of supported events. No more using outdated or out-of-sync programs made for general work. Your golf fundraising software is uniquely designed for the functions of workloads of nonprofit events, even allowing you to manage multiple upcoming fundraisers simultaneously. Plus, you can customize the aesthetics of many platforms themselves, making your donation and event pages match your nonprofit’s current brand visuals with rich text and video options.
Many pieces of charity software are also mobile and cloud-based. You and your staff can access software from your home office, bus stop, in-laws’ house, grocery store checkout line — wherever — keeping everyone connected.
Charity event-management software with a built-in registration portal streamlines tournament RSVPs and day-of check-ins. It also complements a mobile ticketing solution. Attendees have their information securely stored in your software as soon as they purchase their ticket, speeding up day-of sign-ins. It also allows guests to effortlessly purchase ticket add-ons, such as mulligans or event raffle tickets, with just a few clicks, since their account information is all right there.
Volunteer management suite
Tools like a volunteer management suite help you coordinate volunteer hours and activities across your events. When staffing your golf fundraiser, you can use the tools to register people you think would be great fits for the outing, schedule shifts and collect any necessary info about them before the big day.
Social media integration
Charity event software integrated with your social media allows you to share event pages across your profiles instantly. Followers will see the tournament’s official ticketing and registration pages right there on their home feeds, alongside online donation buttons. Streamline digital advertising and promotion work, all in a few simple clicks.
Multiple fundraising methods/campaigns
Ensure the software you choose can host several revenue-generating campaigns simultaneously. In other words, its interface should be able to manage several custom fundraising initiatives you’re currently supporting, such as your golf tournament, an upcoming holiday drive and an ongoing text-to-give campaign, each with customized public and administrative pages.
Online donation platform
Live donation displays, digital pledges and a straightforward payment process make it simple for people to donate online to your nonprofit. With these features, you can receive donations at any time, from anywhere, alongside formal fundraising initiatives, as well as at any point across the year. Some charity event software will even integrate a text-to-give platform, offering yet another way for people to use technology for good.
Secure payment processing
Golf fundraising software should come with top-of-the-line payment security features to safely process a donor’s transaction. Guests at your outing should feel reassured your organization is handling their online, text-to-give or in-person donation via a swiped card or transfer with the utmost care, as well as storing their transaction history in a secure portal with tight access controls.
Easily track the progress of your fundraising goals through software analytics. You golf tournament planning technology should contain easy-to-review visuals monitoring all of the following:
- Event registration and ticket sales
- Corporate sponsorship sales and direct donations
- Additional event revenue streams — purchased mulligans, raffle tickets, merchandise, etc.
- Individual or team fundraising drives
- Payment records-keeping to see who has paid in advance and who needs to pay on the day of
- And more data analytics for better fundraising decision-making
Sponsorship recognition and thank-yous
Coordinate donor and sponsor follow-up with a communication portal made for nonprofit event management. The software can help you create, save and send bulk thank-you messages to all event attendees, plus conveniently generate their receipts via email or text for tax purposes.
In either case, these tools help you set up donor recognition privately and publicly, thanking those who made your complete, 18-hole golf tournament possible, as well as the individual donors and players who went above and beyond in their generosity.