Getting partners and sponsors for your golf tournament fundraiser may feel like a daunting task. Even more so if you haven’t done any fundraising or don’t know anything about the nonprofit world. But don’t sell yourself short. You may actually know more than you think.
Golf is still golf whether you’re holding a putter or a long iron. The same is true of business relationships. Many people look at the nonprofit sector and think it must be very different from the for-profit business world. And in some ways it is.
The way values are exchanged is the biggest difference. But values are in fact exchanged, even if no money or products change hands. The way the work is done is also surprisingly similar.
If you work in the business world, you may think you don’t know the first thing about fundraising. I’m here to tell you, you do! It’s just like playing golf with a different club.
In the for-profit world, say your business sells advertising to other business customers. To make the sale, your business has to show your customer the value the advertisement will return. How many people will see their ad? How will it be displayed? Who else has advertised with your company? How does the community view your company and its products or services?
If you’re prepared with great answers to these questions when you meet with your customers, you have an easy time selling your ad space. The value exchanged is clear to your customer.
It’s not so different when it comes to winning golf tournament sponsorship. You may have a list of menu options for your potential sponsor to consider. A sponsorship of $1000 gets the sponsor’s name on brochures, registration table signs, and the tournament website. A $5000 sponsorship includes mentions by the event’s emcee, a large banner with a logo, and coupons or flyers in all the participants’ gift bags.
Seeing your list will get your potential sponsor thinking about what he’d like to see most—even if what he wants isn’t on the list. But if the payoff for both of you is worth it, you could make it happen.
Your golf tournament sponsorship is a business transaction just like any other. Yes, your sponsor is parting with his money without you providing him a direct product or service. But what you are providing your sponsor is the opportunity to advertise to your participants and volunteers. There’s also an opportunity to tell to the community about his business.
Sponsors for your golf tournament support not only your golf fundraiser, but also the cause you’re raising funds for. The sponsor is taking an active role in helping others in the community. If this business is in a competitive market, such community involvement sets this business apart. Talented people want to work there and local shoppers want to support the business. And you get a great sponsor for your golf tournament.
In the links below are a sponsor solicitation letter and several sample sponsorship opportunities from existing J. Ryder Group events.
The primary difference between the sponsor and the partner is the commitment and the time needed to secure a deal.
You may form a sponsorship relationship in the midst of the planning phase of your latest tournament. The sponsor agrees to a deal, makes a financial contribution, and provides you with logos, banners, or flyers. Then he may attend your event and do a bit of networking, mingling, and snacking.
A golf tournament partner is more involved in your tournament. This relationship could actually take several forms. A partnership could be a long-term or ongoing relationship with a corporate sponsor. The partner sponsors your tournament every year for a significant dollar amount.
Or, you could form a partnership with a golf course, pro golfer, or celebrity. In this case, little or no money may change hands either direction. These partners are giving their time, their name, and in the case of the golf course, their facilities to your cause.
So how do you use your business skills to win tournament partners?
If sponsorship is like ad sales, partnership is more like business development or account management. You will be wooing partners for a longer time period, building a relationship, building trust, and putting in more effort on your end. Your goal is not a one-off sale here, but a long-term customer.
In business development, you may research and qualify sales leads, ending up with a whole folder of information on a potential customer. Then, you may do a bit of business PR and inside sales, telling potential and current customers more about you and why they should become or remain customers.
For tournament partnerships, this translates to researching potential partners, cultivating lasting relationships with existing sponsors, and communicating information about all the great things your tournament is doing.
In account management, you want to understand and meet the needs of your customer, building a long-term relationship. You do a lot of listening, conferring, and following up.
This is exactly what you’ll be doing to ensure that this year’s sponsor develops into next year’s partner: listening, conferring, following up.
Adjusting to a New Club
Just like picking up a new kind of club for the first time took some getting used to, so will switching from a for-profit business mindset to a fundraising mindset. By learning the similarities, hopefully you will feel more comfortable with the change. It can be a great confidence booster to realize you know more than you thought and confidence is what will help you sell all the great features of your tournament to potential partners and sponsors for your golf tournament.
Focus on building relationships and providing value for your prospects and you’ll be securing sponsorships and partnerships for your tournament before you know it.