Golf Fundraisers Help Nonprofits Stay Nimble Amid Uncertainty

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If the past 18 months have taught fundraisers anything, it’s the importance of being nimble. Indeed, fundraisers have had to find new ways to pivot over the past 18 months, and given the uncertainty of the months ahead, they will need to stay nimble if changes in local circumstances necessitate event changes or modifications. Having options and flexibility is perhaps more important than ever.

Golf tournaments can be easily adapted for distancing and reduced contact, giving event organizers more flexibility than perhaps any other fundraising event, while attracting donors and sponsors to help your organization expand its donor network. Here’s a look at six distinct advantages of a golf tournament fundraiser, plus tips for launching a first-year tournament or adapting an existing event (ahead of time or at the last minute). 

1. Golf is something many donors genuinely enjoy.
According to the National Golf Foundation, golf saw a sustained rise in popularity throughout 2020 and so far in 2021, attracting both veteran and first-time players and amassing over 24 million active, on-course golfers. The surge is expected to continue, particularly given golf’s innate social distancing, which gives donors the opportunity to participate in your fundraiser through an activity they enjoy safely. Charity golf events are unique in that they attract everyone from serious golfers to loyal supporters of your organization. These supporters often use their personal and professional networks to field a team and end up coming back year after year because they enjoy the chance to play a round for your cause. 

2. Golf tournaments can be easily adapted for health and safety concerns.
It’s no surprise that golf has been dubbed the official sport of social distancing. The fact that golf is played outdoors and is an individual sport makes it possible to remain distanced while still convening. In fact, rounds are up nationwide for the second straight year; overall, play is up 22.8% through June of 2021 compared to 2020. With broad support from the golf industry as a whole via its 2020 Back2Golf initiative aimed at organizing a safe return to play at courses nationwide, event organizers have taken several steps to maintain distancing throughout golf tournaments. This includes using tee times instead of a shotgun start, adapting or foregoing post-golf banquets, limiting carts to one golfer, adequately spacing tables for check-in, and switching from paper scorecards to mobile live scoring and real-time leaderboards. 

3. A contact-free event is easier than you might think.
Converting to a contact-free in-person event is quite simple with the right technology. You’ll need an event website to market your event and collect registrations, eliminating the need for paper registration forms, checks, and receipts. You’ll also want to get rid of paper scorecards, making live-scoring a must. Doing so gives you more sponsorship options and sets your event up for a seamless transition to a virtual round—where participants can play at the course on their own time in support of your cause instead of gathering for a formal event—should you have to pivot last-minute. If you’re already set on a virtual golf fundraiser, online registration and live scoring are crucial. This key piece ensures that supporters commit to the virtual round and submit their scores to the leaderboard. You can also use to keep supporters following your event and submitting online donations before, during, and after the virtual event. 

4. Golf events attract high-capacity donors.
Veteran fundraisers and event planners know that it’s not always about attracting supporters to a fundraising event but the right supporters. The golfer donor is especially important for many organizations because these supporters typically belong to an affluent and influential demographic. The average golfer’s net worth is over $768,000, with a household income exceeding $100,000 (nearly double the national average). These folks also have noteworthy ties to potential sponsors: 1 in 3 golfers are top-level managers, and 90% of Fortune 500 CEOs are golfers. These are the types of supporters who can move the needle for nonprofits in terms of major gifts, and who organizations want to have in their donor database. They can also help organizations connect with local, regional, and even national brands and businesses, making the golf event a seamless entry point to corporate donors and partnerships.

5. Golf tournaments are both fundraisers and outreach opportunities.
Most charity golf events are scrambles, which means that players must tap a few friends or colleagues to join them, making the event a natural outreach effort. If you’re planning an established annual event, you’ll, of course, want to start by engaging participants from years past. If your field tends to sell out each year, consider adding a virtual round to the traditional in-person event to involve more supporters and give folks who might not feel comfortable playing in the event an opportunity to still participate on their own time. Golf tournaments also tend to attract coverage by local media outlets, which spreads awareness for your cause throughout the community. It’s a good idea to reach out to newspapers, online news outlets, radio stations, and television stations with information about your event and invite them to cover it. 

6. Virtual tournaments give you a built-in back up plan.
Whether you decide ahead of time or need to pivot to virtual leading up to your event, it’s easy to add a virtual option for a hybrid event or go completely virtual with your golf tournament if necessary. Flexible technology makes it simple to collect registrations online, provide touch-free mobile scoring during the event, collect donations, and share live leaderboards to keep golfers and spectators engaged with the event and your cause. Not only does a virtual round give golfers the choice of when and how they play to support your organization, but it also provides an avenue to grow your fundraiser. Best of all, you have options, including a fully virtual tournament, a hybrid event that includes an in-person round as well as a virtual round, or a completely in-person event that’s touch-free and safely distanced. 

How to Get Started 
The right technology is key to a successful fundraiser, whether it’s a distanced in-person event, a virtual round, or a hybrid tournament. Launching an event website is a great place to start—simply outline a few key details like date and facility and get it on your supporters’ calendars sooner rather than later. 

You’ll need to be aware of any guidelines or regulations that courses are requesting to keep golfers safe, such as not touching the pin flag, wearing masks in the clubhouse, and restricting carts to one golfer or those in the same household. In addition, be cognizant of capacity limitations at the golf facility and adjust accordingly. You’ll also want to be ready with a back up plan if local conditions change. Having a virtual round in your back pocket is a great option so you’re ready for changing circumstances. Technology makes it easy to adapt and pivot and keep your golf fundraiser moving forward.

GolfStatus’s golf event management software is designed specifically for fundraisers (including traditional and virtual outings). It’s available to qualifying nonprofits at no cost through and the Golf for Good program. Get qualified at or email

JJWennifer Wemhoff is the communications manager at GolfStatus. 



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22 Sep 2021 AFP News
22 Sep 2021 AFP News
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