If you want to hit a line drive toward your fundraising goal, it's time to hit the green.
A charity golf tournament is an effective way to raise money for any good cause.
In 2019, there were half a million golf outings in the United States — many of them charitable events. In fact, in 2017, the National Golf Federation reported that golf outings raise $3.9 billion in philanthropic contributions each year.
While those are certainly attractive numbers, there's a catch. While charity golf events certainly raise a pretty penny, they are one of the most expensive fundraisers you can organize. For that reason, "Golf Digest” reports the average net profit for charity golf tournaments is a mere $5,000. Yikes.
That's not to say a highly profitable golf tournament isn't possible, nor do you need to organize the next PGA tour to do so. Tournaments held at your local golf course can be a fun, effective, and profitable way to raise money for your local school, sports team, or good cause — it just has to be done the right way.
Below, we dive into innovative fundraising ideas to make the most of your charity golf tournament. With a few high-value sponsorship packages, various ticket options, and enticing add-ons, you are on your way to raising some green, on the green.
5 ways to maximize profits from your charity golf tournament
Golf tournaments are high-cost events — you raise a lot, but you can all too easily spend a lot. To ensure you make high enough net profit to support the cause you care about, you need to offer creative fundraising solutions while cutting costs wherever possible. To increase your margins, follow these steps.
1. Recruit corporate sponsors
When it comes to raising funds, it's sponsorships — not ticket sales — that will make the biggest difference in your event. In fact, it's not uncommon for a charity golf outing to barely break even through ticket sales. Between the country club rental, golfer prizes, signage, and advertising, the costs certainly add up before you sell a single ticket.
To offset these upfront costs, approach corporate sponsors before your event and allow them to purchase a sponsorship slot via ticketing options. Think of innovative, premium sponsorship opportunities, such as:
- Create sponsored food and drink packages 🍹: Let's face facts — the best events come with food and booze. This golf tournament offered sponsored beer carts and an event breakfast to create memorable experiences.
- Offer to sponsor a hole ⛳: Allow nine corporate sponsors to set up a booth, host their own BBQ, or set up another customized experience — one for every hole on the green.
- Offer title sponsorships 💸: For top dollar, you can name your fundraising event after your sponsor. This is exactly what this golf tournament did, offering to include the corporation's name on all tournament entrances, collateral, newsletters, and social media posts.
2. Design different ticketing options
Some of the biggest decisions event committee members make revolve around how the tournament will be set up. Will you play the best ball, stroke play, or a scramble? Will you have a shotgun start or assign tee times for players? Will you allow for single players, foursomes, or teams?
Before you feel pressured to choose a single format, remember this: Different formats can help bring in different funds. For example:
- Allow for single players and teams 👫: This tournament allowed golfers to purchase a single ticket or a foursome package (saving $50 per golfer).
- Offer a mix of competitions 🏌: Sure, some players will want to spend all afternoon on the green, but others might enjoy hitting a line drive then going to sip on a cocktail. Why not offer a competition for the longest drive or a special prize for a hole in one?
- Design VIP tickets 🎉: Offer premium, top-dollar ticketing options that include a golf cart rental, food and drink tickets, and a coveted tee time. This golf tournament offered a VIP ticket upgrade that included a cocktail hour, lounge access, and VIP dinner seating.
3. Offer activities besides golfing
Okay, hear us out on this one. If you want your fundraising event to be a weekend experience — not just a tournament — then give people multiple reasons to show up. The best golf tournaments don't just target golfers themselves. They offer activities for families, spouses, friends, and other people from the community.
You can hire a band for live music, create pop-up bars, book a food truck for the weekend, or offer great prizes to non-golfers. Here are a few ways you can increase event attendance (and the overall profit margin of your event):
- Host food and drink experiences 🍟: BBQs, cocktail hours, and tournament breakfasts are a great way to draw a crowd. This tournament set up a margarita tent, buffet dinners, beer carts, and boxed lunches to tournament goers.
- Host a kid's mini-golf tournament 🧒: Why not make your fundraiser a family affair? Set up a pop-up mini golf course for kids, allowing them to take part in the weekend.
- Create a raffle or silent auction 🏆: Organizing a raffle or collecting donated auction items is a great way to raise money for your tournament. This tournament sold raffle tickets for a trip for four to Kiawah Island Golf Resort, chartered by a private jet.
4. Don't forget your add-ons
Your fundraising efforts don't end once every ticket is sold.
Even after check-in, there are a number of ways to raise funds throughout the tournament.
You can sell golf balls, tees, or even the convenience of a caddie once golfers hit the green. To enable these split-second-decision purchases, use the Venmo or text-to-give option for your event. Here are a few other impulse buys that can help raise money for your good cause:
- Offer mulligans 🆓: A mulligan in golf is essentially a do-over, or a second shot after a putt gone wrong. You can offer mulligans for $10-$30, allowing players to pay for a second shot.
- Provide towels, water, and other supplies 📍: You can have volunteers stationed at every hole on the green, offering up the necessities. Offer your players sweat towels, water bottles, extra tees, or golf balls in exchange for an onsite donation.
- Allow for a better putt 💎: Unless you're a local pro, not many tournament goers will be hitting on par. This tournament offered a "Putting String" ticket, where a golfer could pay $5 to place their ball 6 feet closer to the hole.
5. Start fundraising for next year's event
Why not make your weekend fundraiser an annual charity golf tournament? By making it an annual event, you cut down on your costs and workload (as you can duplicate your efforts year after year). Plus, your fundraiser will transform into an event your community looks forward to, thereby increasing attendance.
To ensure you host a successful event year after year — while keeping costs down — try these strategies:
- Send thank-yous ✍: As soon as your tournament weekend concludes, send a follow-up to all who attended, donated, or sponsored your event, and invite them to next year’s event. You can also use the automatic receipts feature to send thank-yous after each ticket purchase.
- Offer early-bird packages ⏰: Offering early bird tickets for next year's event can help garner excitement for your fundraiser (and offset some of those upfront costs).
- Slash costs for repeat sponsors 💰: Thank your sponsors, and credit them with the success of your weekend. Offer them a discounted package if they sign up early to sponsor next year's tournament.
To launch a profitable charity golf tournament, keep your costs down
Charity golf tournaments are one of the most fruitful fundraisers you can run — but they are also one of the most costly.
To ensure you make a healthy profit margin to support your good cause, try to keep your costs down wherever possible.
Nonprofits, schools, teams, and other organizations choose Givebutter for their charitable campaigns because it’s the most cost-effective solution in the industry. The average fee across all campaigns on Givebutter is a mere 0.5%. Every time a donor supports your cause, we give them the option of covering the entire fee — and 95% of givers choose to do so.
Ready to start planning your most profitable charity golf tournament yet? Sign up today to start planning a hole-in-one event.
Rachel is a fundraising and marketing consultant for nonprofits whose aspiration since she was 16-years-old is simply this: help others, help others.