With the economy on the up and up, "chari-tee" golf tournaments are growing in popularity. They're a fun way to freshen up your approach to summer development, take less planning than the annual gala or charity ball, and provide a distinct angle to reach and engage new supporters. Best of all, it's simple to cover costs through golfer registrations and sponsorships.
Once you've covered costs, there are dozens of tried-and-true revenue enhancers you can incorporate for greater profits to your cause.
Today we'll look at 6 of the most popular auctions & games featured in golf tournaments today:
- Silent Auctions (try a 'Tee Time' golf basket)
- Live Auctions (send your donors to Pebble Beach and more)
- $1 Million Hole-in-One
- 1,000 Ball Helicopter Drop
- Roll the Dice
- Guess Your Distance
For even more ideas and tips, sign up for next week's webinar all about maximizing revenue from charity golf events.
1. Silent auction
"Almost every golf outing we touch has an auction," says Connor Sweeney, President and CEO at Great Shot Golf, a provider of golf contest insurance that works with 1,700 golf tournaments per year.
Auctions are a great opportunity to raise extra money beyond entry costs. Let's start with the silent auction.
"Silent auctions at golf tournaments offer anywhere from 10 to 25 items," asserts Holly Kennedy, PGA Pro and co-founder of Kennedy Golf Tournament and Event Planning. "Larger, more established events can have up to 60 items, but those are a rarity."
Silent auction success relies on offering items your audience is interested in. For starters, you already know your guests are interested in golf.
Try putting together a golf-themed 'Tee Time in a Basket.' You might include a pack of high quality golf tees, a golf towel, bristle brush, putting cup, oversized umbrella, visors, golf clubs and covers. Up the ante with a golf experience like golf for three at a private country club with a member, or golf at 20 courses.
That said, auctions that stick only to golf items - think sets of five irons, signed golf memorabilia - don't do as well as those with wider appeal, says Kennedy.
Diversify your offerings by including a variety of themed baskets that virtually anyone would enjoy: think restaurant gift certificates, fine wines, cigars, spa days and luxury hotel stays.
2. Live Auctions
Unlike a gala, where the fundraising and entertainment highlight of the night is the live auction, golf tournaments have many components: dinner, awards, contests, plus of course hours of golf. After a long, tiring day, you don't want to lose the interest of the audience or make them feel nickel-and-dimed.
So, how many items are appropriate?
"I've seen that most successful live auctions stay between 4 to 6 items," Kennedy says.
Unique local experiences like box seats at the racetrack or trips to ski resort timeshare do well. And while golf tournaments tend to attract more men than women, keep in mind most of these men have significant others. So it's smart to include indulgent items like a wine tasting trip or shopping spree.
The wider the appeal of an item, the higher bidding will go.
Auction Idea: Championship Golf Courses & Tournaments
Travel experiences continue to be a hit at charity auctions, and offering exciting golf trips is an easy way to drum up publicity for your golf event.
Partnering with a reputable consignment travel provider like Winspire makes it easy to send your donors to iconic courses, historic championships and stunning views worldwide. Winspire offers over a dozen incredible golf excursions in Pebble Beach, Scottsdale, Ireland and more, plus tickets to attend golf's most prestigious tournaments - like the legendary U.S. Open Golf Tournament.
They take just minutes to reserve and cost nothing upfront to include in your event. Check out our entire selection of golf trips below.
3. $1 Million Hole-in-One
"Contests at golf tournaments are similar to going to the carnival, buying 3 darts, popping a balloon and winning a teddy bear - the stakes are just a bit higher," says Sweeney. "You choose a hole and offer a prize to anyone, or the first person, who gets a hole in one there."
The key is to get your prize insured by a reputable provider. Golf contest insurers cover everything from cars, to boats, to a million dollars. If you can put a risk or chance to a prize, it can be covered. Sweeney says last year, Great Shot Golf paid out $220,000 in prizes.
4. 1,000 Ball Helicopter Drop
How it works: You sell numbers that correspond to golf balls, similar to a raffle, numbered 1 to 1,000. A helicopter then flies over a given green and drops a thousand balls. The ball that goes in the hole, or closest to the hole, wins the prize! (If two balls enter, the one on the bottom wins.)
"It's essentially a raffle, but the marketing power behind a game like this is powerful," Sweeney says, "and at the end of the day, it's about providing sponsors with marketing and PR value."
In one event they work with, the nonprofit sells the title sponsorship of the annual ball drop for $25,000. "They fly the helicopter around town, put up banners everywhere, film the whole drop, and it's the hit of the summer around town. We can insure a $10,000 ball drop prize for $100, so a game like this isn't breaking the bank."
For more on the $1 Million Hole-in-One or Thousand Ball Helicopter Drop, click here to listen to a recent episode of our podcast, Events with Benefits; Sweeney shares more information on these two games and dozens more golf tournament tips.
5. Roll the Dice
For this game, bring a pair of giant inflatable dice for players to roll when they arrive at a certain hole. Assign different positions for each of the outcomes. For example, if someone rolls an odd and even number, they can hit from a certain tee. If a pair is rolled, the player can hit at the 150 yard line.
"It's a fun way for players to interact with staff from the nonprofit, plus possibly get a lower score at the hole because they were able to hit their drives from further along the green," Kennedy explains.
6. Guess Your Distance
Enlist two volunteers: one to stand at the tee box with a rangefinder or yardage finder, and another down on the fairway. Have the player guess how far they're going to hit their drive, then hit the ball. The volunteer on the fairway then walks to the location of the ball, where the first volunteer can bounce a laser off the second to determine the distance.
You can then award prizes to the closest guesses, either on the spot or at the end of the day.
Watch the Golf Tournament Webinar
Planning a golf tournament? Get more tips in our free webinar, "Top 5 Tips for Maximizing Revenue from Charity Golf Tournaments." In the 1-hour session, Winspire teamed up with Brent Haworth from WhyNotGolf to cover:
- How to negotiate rates & fees
- Technology that saves time & money
- Enhance revenue with auctions & games
- Promote your event like a pro
- Set the stage for next year's success
This is a must-watch for anyone planning or considering a charity golf tournament.