There is no debating the fact that golf is playing a much more significant role in the business world today. Whether its for entertaining clients, networking, team building, or providing the perfect environment for closing that deal, more and more business is getting done on the golf course.
Another important role golf plays is to raise funds for a charitable cause. In fact, according to the National Association of Golf Tournament Directors, approximately 35,000 charity golf events are held annually in the U.S.; raising over $250 million for various charitable causes and non-profit organizations. That is a lot of golf tournaments! And chances are, you have or will either be asked to produce one of these golf events or sit on a tournament committee that will oversee the event and be charged with the task of raising the sponsor dollars necessary for meeting the financial goals of the event.
Staging a successful charity golf tournament presents many companies and individuals with numerous planning and organizational challenges. The time required to plan, organize and produce this type of event can become overwhelming. For example, a one-day charity golf event often requires over 100 man hours just to produce! And that is just for the activities that take place the day of the event. When you add the time for planning, meetings, etc. the total invested to stage that tournament can exceed 1,000 hours.
As you prepare to tackle the challenges of producing a flawless charity golf event, consider the following tips for success. (Please note: unlike all the magazines and videos out there, these tips are not intended to improve your golf swing or your short game, but will help improve your peace of mind, the result of effectively managing a successful golf event).
The Tee Shot – Getting Your Event “In Play”
* Clearly define roles and responsibilities of all parties – including the Tournament Committee, Committee Chair, the charity or beneficiary, the golf course, and the project leader – and ensure that proper and effective communication is in place, including a regular meeting schedule
* Make sure your Committee Chair is energized about his/her role and that he/she will effectively lead the Committee through its primary task of raising money through the sale of sponsorships for the event. If your Committee Chair is not committed, its likely your Committee members won’t be either
* Set a realistic, achievable goal for the event that everyone buys into. If the event raised $25,000 last year, can it raise $30,000 this year?
* Establish realistic sponsor levels and benefits that will be perceived as having value. Think about how your sponsor can activate their sponsorship at the event beyond just logo presence. Can they sample their products at the event? Put an item in your gift bag for the golfers? Will they be recognized in all tournament materials? Will a sponsor representative be permitted to speak or be recognized at your reception?
The Approach Shot – Differentiation
There are lots of charity golf events taking place on an annual basis, which means numerous requests are being made to the business community for time and financial contributions. How will you differentiate your event and, if it is an annual event, keep it “fresh” and top of mind with your current sponsors and potential new sponsors? How will you win the competition for that sponsorship dollar? Consider the following:
* Your venue. People like to play on golf courses they normally would not have the opportunity to visit. Like private country clubs. The more exclusive and prestigious the course, the more likely you have given a potential sponsor, usually an avid golfer, motivation to want to participate. Also, chances are that one of your tournament committee members might have a country club membership or know someone who does.
* Your event communications. How are you communicating to your target audience today and promoting your event? Are your invitations and your collateral compelling? Is there a call to action? Are you sending your event information out far enough in advance so your current sponsors can allocate budget dollars sooner rather than later? Are you effectively utilizing the web, with a dedicated site for your event, and perhaps creatively using tools like Facebook and Twitter to promote your event in your local market? Are you offering online registration and follow-up information?
* Your gift bag. Are the items you offer in your gift bag going to be perceived as delivering value to your golfers? Are they high-quality items? Or did you go with lesser-quality items to save a few dollars on the expense line? Don’t underestimate the power of a high-quality gift bag that your players will talk about long after the event is over. It can be a wonderful selling tool for next year’s event.
* Incremental revenue-producing opportunities. Think about ways to generate additional revenue at your event, delivered in a fun and entertaining manner, that could result in a bigger check presented to your charity at the end of the event. Consider selling mulligans to your foursomes at $25 each. Or how about staging a live or silent auction? You have a captive audience at your reception at the event, waiting to see who won the various golfing contests as well as the tournament. An auction, staged in an entertaining, energetic way with unique items, memorabilia and experiences, could generate an extra $5,000 – $25,000 for your charity golf event.
The 19th Hole – Reviewing Your Round
We’ve all dissected our round of golf afterwards in the clubhouse at the “19th hole” with our playing partners and our favorite beverage. Are you the person at the table who is lamenting your sliced tee shots and poor putting? Or the one who is celebrating the two-dollar Nassau you won thanks to excellent course management?
Once your event is over, your 19th hole assessment should include the following:
* Were you, your management, the Committee and charity/beneficiary please with the results? Was the financial goal met? If not, why not?
* How did things go at the golf course – the registration process, the on-course signage, the flow of the round, and the food and beverage? Did you meet your players’ needs and requests? Did you have a sufficient number of volunteers to help manage all the details?
* Were your expectations met? Were the results worth the hundreds of hours you and your team put into planning and executing the event?
As you think about last year’s event or begin anticipating (or dreading) planning an event this year, there is an alternative. You may want to consider the option of outsourcing. More and more today, many businesses, charities and foundations are moving toward the concept of outsourcing their golf events. Contracting with experts who will manage all or some of the details will ensure that your event will be professionally planned, organized and produced while meeting your goals and objectives.