Should Golf Be A Bigger Part Of Your Nonprofit’s Fundraising Mix?

Should Golf Be A Bigger Part Of Your Nonprofit’s Fundraising Mix?


The pandemic’s restriction of big group events have made the last two years very challenging for nonprofits so development executives are on the lookout for ways to enhance their fundraising efforts.

Interestingly, one growth area has been golf tournament fundraising which has been on the rise for several reasons:

— Since golf is played outdoors, tournaments can easily be arranged to enable social distancing.

— The sport saw record rounds played during 2020 and then continued to increase by 5% in 2021, according to the National Golf Foundation.

— After years of primarily being managed manually or using very unsophisticated systems, online technology has emerged that streamlines golf tournament fundraisers and handles golf-specific elements like hole assignments, team pairings, facility information, and sponsorships.

— Golf remains a generally upscale activity with golfers having a median household income of $125,000 and a high penetration of upper level executives.

The Cameron Steinberg Foundation is an example of a small nonprofit that has successfully leveraged these trends. The organization was founded by the parents of Cameron Steinberg who passed away at just two months old from hypoplastic left heart syndrome. The foundation raises funds to help other families dealing with congenital heart disease.

The Ohio-based foundation raised $30,000 at its first golf event in 2021, and was selected as the winner of a $10,000 donation through the inaugural Play It Forward campaign. After using inefficient platforms and systems to plan and manage the tournament in 2021, the event converted to an online golf tournament management platform for the 2022 event, held May 23, 2022, and raised $64,000, more than double the amount raised in 2021.

A more sophisticated, technology-empowered approach to managing the event led to such positive outcomes as selling more and higher priced sponsorships, a 50% reduction in the administrative workload and better tools to promote the program and enable people to make direct donations, according to cofounder Sam Steinberg.

Back in 2021 the group used Venmo to collect credit card payments, had to process cash and checks and tracked everything in spreadsheets which were a “huge headache,” Sam explained.

A good way for nonprofits to determine whether a golf tournament fundraising could work well for them would be to review this introductory guide.

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