There are many key factors to consider when planning a charity golf event. One of them is how to keep golfers coming back next year. Every detail must be carefully planned and ultimately, you want golfers to enjoy themselves so they return each year. Golfer retention is crucial to the success of your golf event. By implementing these five steps below, you create longevity for your event and keep golfers and sponsors coming back each year.
#1 Build long-term relationships with golfers and sponsors
The best way to retain golfers and sponsors is to build long-term, lasting relationships from the beginning. Give participants a valid reason to invest in your cause. Educate golfers as to why your organization is worthwhile and who will benefit from their donations. By developing personal relationships with golfers and sponsors, they become fully invested in your cause and are more likely to participate each year.
For example, a corporate foursome signs up for your golf tournament. They chose your event because they believe in the mission of your organization and want to give back to the community. The corporate foursome has a great time at your golf event, and they feel good because they donated to a worthwhile cause. Because they are now fully invested in your cause, they are excited to get their company involved. They pitch a $10,000 sponsorship package to their company’s CEO. As a result, the CEO agrees to join your event as a major corporate sponsor. Thanks to the relationship you built with these golfers, you turned last year’s foursome into a $10,000 corporate sponsorship.
#2 Develop a strong volunteer committee
Another crucial component to golfer retention is to develop a strong committee with dedicated volunteers. Just like participants, you want volunteers to be fully invested in your cause. When working with golf event committees, it’s important to utilize the skill set and talents of your volunteers.
Make sure your committee is comprised of professionals who represent diverse industries and leadership within your community (i.e. medical/health, real estate, banking/financial, hi-tech, etc.) Ask members to reach out to their professional and personal contacts. With the assistance of committee members, they can help retain last year’s golfers and bring new golfers on board.
#3 Plan early and stick to an events calendar
Plan your golf event early. Create a working events calendar and hold your committee members accountable for deadlines. Send out save the date cards at least six months to one year in advance. Don’t forget that businesses and corporations are selective when it comes to their charitable donations. Because they allocate a certain amount in their budget for donations, it’s important to send out sponsorship and golfer registration packages early.
Don’t lose out on last year’s sponsors and golfers because of poor planning. Do not plan golf tournaments on the same day as other local golf events. Companies sometimes participate in multiple tournaments throughout the year so keep that in mind when choosing dates and golf venues.
#4 Include fun contests and give away high-quality prizes
For golfers, it’s all about having fun and they need an incentive to return each year. Include golf competitions such as putting or hole-in-one contests. Mix up the contests each year or ask feedback from golfers to find out what contests they prefer. Solicit in-kind donations from businesses so you can provide high-quality contest prizes such as golf clubs, golf trip packages, vacations, and cars.
Raffles are another fun way to get your golfers involved. Sell raffle tickets throughout the day – an easy way to raise money. Reach out to your local community for raffle prize donations. Some prize ideas include gift cards, restaurant gift certificates, theatre and movie tickets, wine gift baskets, etc. It’s a win-win for local businesses when they donate because it promotes their business while supporting a good cause.
#5 Provide golfers with a memorable event experience
You want to impress your golfers from the moment they arrive at your event. Don’t skimp on free goodie bags and golf merchandise (i.e. golf shirts, jackets, bags, etc.). Provide hearty, delicious food throughout the day. If you want to reduce food and beverage costs, secure a beverage sponsor that will donate both non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages for your golfers.
If you want to add a touch of class to your event, include silent and live auctions into the evening program. Plan a buffet-style dinner or cocktail hour post-tournament. This gives your golfers a chance to unwind and socialize, and is a great time to announce contest winners and hand out prizes. Give your golfers a memorable event experience beyond just a fun day on the golf course.
If golfers complain that the food was lousy or the golf course wasn’t challenging or too difficult, there may be a good reason why you are losing golfers year after year. Pay attention to golfer feedback and make improvements for the following year. By following these five steps above, you set your golf event up for long-term success.