Jun 20, 2022

Hosting a cornhole tournament fundraiser

cornhole fundraiser

If your organization wants a casual, low-cost fundraiser idea that doesn’t sacrifice fun or donor engagement, it’s time to start planning a cornhole tournament fundraiser. Cornhole is a big crowd-pleaser and you can shape the game to fit any venue, cause, budget, or theme.

What is cornhole?

Cornhole is a simple game with pretty straightforward rules. Single or double players take turns pitching small fabric beanbags at a board or platform with a hole in the far end. The scoring and terminology are simple: 

  • Cornhole: A toss that sends the bag through the hole is called a cornhole. Each cornhole earns a player three points. 
  • Ace: A bag that lands on the board and remains there throughout the play is called a ace. A player earns one point for every ace. 

The first team to reach or exceed 21 points in the specified timeframe wins.

Why cornhole?

Sports and recreation have always been a fundraising event staple. Cornhole has a particular set of advantages that makes it the perfect fit for organizations seeking a low-cost, casual, and universally appealing event:

  • It’s a cost-efficient event: Cornhole has minimal upfront costs, making it easier to generate enough revenue to profit. You’ll likely hold the game outdoors, and equipment is affordable enough to invest in multiple sets for large crowds. Should you need to move your plans indoors, you can skip the cost of elaborate decor or formal seating, as cornhole fans typically expect the event to be as casual as it is fun.
  • You can adapt it to your needs: Adapt your cornhole fundraiser to fit whatever crowd size or budget you’re working with. Equipment is compact and easy to transport, and your “arena” will fit in any indoor or outdoor venue with adequate space.
  • It attracts a variety of attendants: Cornhole appeals to players from all age groups, abilities, and experiences — there are even several professional cornhole leagues with televised matches! The game is also easy to learn, so even beginners or guests unfamiliar with the rules can immediately jump into the action. The more extensive and diverse your guest list, the more likely you can raise the funds you need.

Top 3 essential elements of a cornhole fundraiser

Your fundraiser can be as minimal or elaborate as your budget and goals permit. The three must-haves for every cornhole event are a comfortable event space, a tournament game plan, and a few other entertainment options on the itinerary. 

1. A comfortable event space

If you’re planning an outdoor fundraiser, you might consider a cleared field, large backyard, clean parking lot, or a private spot on the beach. Include a covered area like a pavilion or small building to give your attendees a break from the sun. Having a temperature-controlled indoor room will let guests cool off if the weather’s too hot. You can also host an indoor cornhole fundraiser in a convention center, banquet hall, warehouse, or barn.

Your venue should include:

  • Enough room for several cornhole courts about 8 feet wide and 40 feet long with a 12-foot vertical clearance.
  • Spectator areas near each playing area with seating and standing room.
  • A visible area for scorekeeping.
  • A designated eating area that includes tables, chairs, and a serving station.
  • A front-and-center spot or booth near the entrance to showcase your fundraiser, register attendants, and provide event information.
  • Entertainment areas for other activities like an auction, live music, or bingo.
  • Multiple clean, accessible restrooms.
  • Ample parking spaces that aren’t too far from the entrance.

Many venues lend themselves perfectly to specific event themes. For example, parking lots are a great backdrop for carnival-style fundraisers, while convention centers offer a more modern setting to elevate your tournament.

2. A tournament gameplan

The American Cornhole Association (ACO) has a downloadable tournament guide with the game’s official rules, guidelines, scoring instructions, and approved equipment list. You can also find printable ACO-approved tournament brackets for single- or double-elimination games for up to 64 players. Have a set of official brackets for players and scorekeepers. Consider passing some out to spectators too, and make a challenge out of it!

Your tournament gameplan should include any necessary rule adjustments, like arena dimensions, as well as the following:

  • Winner’s guidelines: You control your tournament’s rules, so you can choose how winners are declared. You might award smaller prizes to every team or player that wins a match or have one ultimate prize for the tournament champion. While bragging rights are their own reward for most players, consider a cash prize or branded event swag like shirts, hats, and water bottles if your marketing and event budgets allow it.
  • Spectator engagement: Keep spectators engaged with a broadcasting system to announce winners. You can also consider livestreaming the event to a big screen if you expect a large crowd with limited visibility.
  • Team registration: Consider having teams sign up together before the day of the event to keep tournament play even. Have a separate single-player league for solo players and last-minute registrants.
  • Extra equipment: Keep a few extra bags and a set of boards nearby to prepare for more players than anticipated or any last-minute repairs or bag swaps. 

3. Other types of entertainment

Though cornhole is a lot of fun for players and spectators, your venue can only hold so many matches at once. Schedule extra entertainment for spectators and players between matches. 

Depending on your crowd, you might have live music, bingo, silent auctions, or kid-friendly games. You could also consider a casual cornhole area for those who aren’t interested in competing but eager to try their hand at playing.

Cornhole fundraiser ideas and planning tips

Maximize revenue and host a successful event with these tips:

  • Take advantage of additional fundraising opportunities: The point of your fundraiser is to generate donations, so be sure to take advantage of every possible opportunity to spark donor interest. You could include a raffle or auction the day of the event, charge an entry or registration fee or set up a booth with event merchandise.
  • Keep the menu simple: Cornhole games are all about being playful, casual, and competitive, and the event menu should match that tone. Focus on cost efficiency and crowd-pleasing, easy-to-eat concessions. If you’re framing your event around a specific theme, like a parking lot carnival, lean into it with matching food and drink options.
  • Showcase the event sponsors: Showcase event sponsors and corporate donors with decorative banners, special seating areas, or vocal shoutouts throughout the tournament. You can also encourage donors to sponsor a team, player, or match and put their logo on the jerseys, bracket sheets, or cornhole boards.
  • Incorporate branding where you can: If you’re hoping to attract more donor interest beyond a one-time donation, incorporate organization branding where you can. Use cornhole equipment and event decorations with your organization’s name or contact information, and provide plenty of ways for attendees to learn about your cause during the fundraiser.

Take your fundraiser to the next level with GiveSmart

With a little prep work and the right guest list, a cornhole tournament fundraiser could easily become your organization’s next annual event. Engage donors, manage event details and create a memorable experience with industry-leading fundraising software from GiveSmart. Request a demo today!

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