June 28, 2017

Wise Giving Wednesday: Golfing “Fore” Charity

For many of us, July 4th brings to mind family outings, community concerts and fireworks which all contribute to make it a fun celebration. In the world of charity fundraising, summer fun for donors is often one of the incentives for using golf events to raise charity funds. Of course, not all golf fundraising events are the same. There’s lots to consider for both charities and donors.  We won’t cover it all but offer a sampling of considerations through the following tips. 

  1. It’s about the charity, not the gameThe golfing event is really about raising money for the specified charity. This is all the more reason to make sure that appeals to participate include a clear description of the activities the money will be supporting. Although potential donors may be approached by colleagues and friends, they may be completely unfamiliar with the benefiting organization.  Individuals should also check out the trustworthiness of the group by visiting Give.org to verify if they meet the 20 BBB Standards for Charity Accountability.
  2. Lots to plan before tee time.  To be financially successful, golfing events take considerable advance planning. For the use of a popular golf course and to cut the best deal, a charity may need to make a reservation from six months up to a year before the planned date.  
  3. Covering costs.  Usually, a charity will seek to cover all of the golf event expenses (green fees, food, prizes, etc.) a couple months before the date of the event.  This is usually done by selling sponsorships from businesses in exchange for advertising their name and logo as supporting the charity event. A number of online advisories about golfing events claim that this step is critical and if the charity is unable to raise sufficient advance funding, it should consider canceling.  A charity golf event that loses money can result in negative publicity.
  4. Volunteers are key.  Organizing a golf fundraising event is not a one-person job. A charity should get help by using volunteers, especially on the day of the event.  Setting up a committee might also be of assistance in getting connections to colleagues to sign up golfers for the date.  
  5. Turning fun into financial success.  The most common game played in fundraising golf is called the scramble – each player in the group shoots from the tee, then everyone takes their next shot from the ball located in the best position.  There are usually many opportunities to raise funds on the day of the event through various prizes, games and offerings such as putting contests, who can hit the longest drive, and asking donations for each mulligan (“do over” shot) used in a game. Also, some golf events are using mobile technology to enable bidding to raise money during these contests. These activities can quickly add up to significant amounts raised for the cause.
  6. Start small and think big. Like all fundraising, it is sometimes best to test the waters by starting a small event and then working out the kinks to develop a more robust activity down the road.  If a charity tries to develop its own version of the U.S. Open the first time out on the green, it will likely fall considerably short of its goal.
  7. A fundraising supplement or staple?  Charities usually use a golfing event as a supplement rather than a main source of funds as there are no guarantees, especially if you take the weather into account. 

Finally, a note about last week’s edition of Wise Giving Wednesday, which addressed Charities and Terrorist Financing.  We appreciate the feedback received by several readers and plan to follow-up on this subject based on this input.  


As part of our Building Trust Video series, we are pleased to provide a video that features an interview with Jaime Berman Matyas, President and Chief Executive Officer, Student Conservation Association (a BBB Accredited Charity). The Association has been involved in building the next generation of conservation leaders and encouraging environmental stewardship since 1957.  Among other things, it provides college and high school-aged members with hands-on conservation service opportunities in several fields. 


We are always working with charities to publish or update reports for donors. Visit Give.org or local BBBs to check out any charity before giving. Our recently evaluated charities include:

Finally, remember to let us know by going to https://www.give.org/ask-us-about-a-charity1/ if you are interested in seeing a report on a charity not on the list and we will do our best to produce one.   

H. Art Taylor, President & CEO
BBB Wise Giving Alliance