Your First Charity Golf Tournament: 4 Tips for Success

charity golf tournamentA charity golf tournament can be a great way to raise a significant amount of money for a good cause. You’ve watched as other tournaments that seem to run like well-oiled machines, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for charities.

You have plenty of passion for charitable causes, but you’re not a professional fundraiser or event planner. How do they do it?

While a love for golf is a must, the real secret behind a fundraising tournament is people. Have a passion for helping others. Put together a great team. Build relationships and network with new people. And work together to make the tournament a great experience.

Let me show you how these tips will make your first charity golf tournament fundraiser a guaranteed success.

1. Finding a Cause and Helping Others

The first step to success is to plan your charity fundraiser around a cause you’re passionate about. Set goals for yourself by asking:

  • Why are we raising money?
  • Who will benefit and how?
  • How much money do we need to make a difference?

If your tournament isn’t already associated with an organization or cause, you will need to choose a beneficiary for your event. There are potentially hundreds of charities in your area who could benefit from your efforts. Whether your passion is education, children, animals, health, or community improvement, there’s a charity working for a cause you care about.

Next, you’ll need to connect with the beneficiary organization and decide together how your tournament fundraiser will help the cause or organization. It’s important to specific. Golfers, sponsors, volunteers, and partners will get excited about helping a specific group with a specific program or initiative.

While some may be motivated by slogans like “Save the Whales” or “Feed the Children”, studies show being more specific about the individuals helped or the need met increases your fundraising success exponentially.

Answering these questions will give you a good idea how much money your charity golf tournament needs to raise.

Be optimistic enough to set a fundraising goal that will make a real difference, yet realistic enough to still be achievable.

Lastly, confirm the organization has a 501(c)3 charitable status registered with the IRS. If not, consult a tax professional to file the appropriate paperwork.

With a clear goal to guide your efforts, you’ll dig into the planning of your event. Short of managing dozens of tasks over the coming months, this will be one of the most difficult parts of the project. That’s why the team you assemble to help is the next key to your success.

2. Putting Together a Great Team

It’s true what they say: no man (or woman) is an island. You have a huge project ahead of you. But you don’t have to do it alone and you don’t have to know how to do everything.

Bring together a group of individuals with complementary skills and a passion for your project and you will have a very successful tournament.

As you staff your planning committee, seek out business owners, community leaders, and seasoned golfers. Also be on the lookout for people who have the following skills or experience:

  • Business
  • Sales
  • Management
  • Fundraising
  • Marketing
  • Communications
  • Journalism
  • Public Relations
  • Graphic Design


The leadership of your planning committee is important. These individuals must work well together, be able to manage multiple projects, and motivate others. Begin by filling three key roles: executive chairperson, operations lead, and marketing communications lead.

Executive Chairperson: A sales, nonprofit, management, or business development background makes for an excellent pick for the tournament committee chairperson. He or she will need to forge strong relationships and partnerships with community leaders and business owners in a short amount of time and secure important sponsorships and donations.

Operations Lead: Event, program, or logistics managers are well suited for this role. Another possibility here is to specifically seek out someone who has experience planning previous tournaments. The operations lead will oversee the planning of the event as well as event day logistics.

Marketing and Communications Lead: A smart choice for this role would be a leader with a marketing, journalism, public relations, or communications background. This person will interface with the local media, and promote the tournament to potential participants as well as the public. He or she will create or oversee the creation of print and digital advertising, another crucial element in the success of your tournament.

3. Building Relationships and Working Networks

As your planning committee and volunteer base grow into a full team, keep an eye out for other talented individuals with specific expertise and social connections.


You will encounter seasoned golfers who have participated in previous tournaments. Ask their advice. Their real world experience will likely save you time and head off potential problems.
Fundraisers can advise you on marketing strategy and the best way to approach sponsorship prospects. These are subjects all fundraisers know well. Their advice can help you grow strong relationships and build excitement around your tournament fundraiser.

As you work with golf course management to secure your location, ask questions. They’ve also been through this before.

If you form a strong partnership with a course manager, they may even point you in the direction of past tournament sponsors.


Golfers, community leaders, and business owners are smart choices when it comes to your early-stage planning. Get these individuals excited about your charity cause, equip them with talking points and brochures, and ask them to work their networks. These leaders can work their connections to draw in both participants and sponsorships.

4. Focusing on a Great Experience

As the big day approaches, pay attention to little details that can make a big difference to your participants, volunteers, and sponsors. Part of having a successful tournament fundraiser is meeting (and exceeding) your fundraising goal. However, it’s just as important to have an event where everyone has fun and leaves feeling like they’ve made a difference.

Volunteer Success

The best way to make sure your volunteers have a great time is to take care of all the little things. Make sure you:

  • Have a system in place for registration check-in and make sure your volunteers are educated about the process beforehand.
  • Create an orderly system for event parking and again make sure your volunteers know what to do when the time comes.
  • Let your volunteers know before, during, and after the event that you appreciate their time and effort. Let them know that they are making a difference and be sure to include them when you send out thank you cards.

Sponsorship Success

Your sponsors will measure success by your execution of the event as well as your acknowledgement of their contributions. Sponsors will be pleased if you follow these tips:

  • When your sponsor signed on to your tournament, you agreed to advertise their association with the event on certain terms. Make sure your publicity materials, website and social media posts, event day banners, emcee announcements, and gift bag stuffers adhere to the terms of your agreement. So if the sponsor asked you to use a specific logo or plug an upcoming promotion, make sure you do so.
  • Even if your agreement didn’t require it, make sure to acknowledge the generosity of your sponsor on event day. Materials handed out to participants should thank your sponsors and emcee scripts should verbally acknowledge their contributions. Send a handwritten thank you note after the event.
  • Let your sponsor know they’ve made a difference by supporting your fundraiser tournament. Keep them informed of your fundraising progress. Some tournaments have even involved direct beneficiaries of the charity. Depending on who your charity cause helps, kids, adults, or even rescue animals could be present on event day to greet and thank attendees.

Participant Success

Your golfers will have a great time and consider the charity golf tournament a success after a fun-filled day where they feel like they’ve made a difference.

  • Ensure that you have refreshments available in multiple locations during the event as well as for the reception afterwards. Your golfers may be out in the elements for five hours or more. Water and snacks should be readily available.
  • The gift bags participants take home should include a brochure about the cause and beneficiary of the tournament. Some tournaments even place copies of these brochures in the golf carts.
  • Make sure your emcee script addresses golfers and thanks them for participating. Send a thank you note to all participants after the event.
  • Your golfers will also enjoy seeing the individuals the fundraiser has helped. Having a group helped by the charity at the event to offer thanks will make this a very special event for golfers.

Putting It All Together

Planning and running your first charity golf tournament can be a daunting task. Focus on the people though, and you can’t go wrong.

If you have a passion for helping others, enjoy working together with talented people on projects, and enjoy building and nurturing professional relationships, you have all the skills you need to put on your first successful charity golf tournament fundraiser.

Just remember: have a passion for your cause, make it a team effort, build relationships, work your network, and create an enjoyable experience for everyone.

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