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Tips & Guides

How to Run a Successful Golf Marathon Fundraiser

​​Golf marathon fundraisers are a great way for your nonprofit to leverage the power of activity-based, peer-to-peer fundraising to engage new supporters.

Also known as a 100 Hole Hike, a Golf Marathon challenges participants to devote an entire day to doing what they love, spending countless hours on the course with friends. Instead of registration fees, fundraisers commit to earning pledges and donations for every hole they complete during the marathon.

What makes Golf Marathons so successful?

  • Audience: Savvy campaign organizers know that it’s not always about attracting supporters to a fundraising event, but it’s also about attracting the right supporters. Golfers are especially important for many organizations because these individuals 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 are also more likely to have ties to local and regional businesses, making golf an ideal entry point for corporate sponsors. Golfers and their networks are a demographic that nonprofits want to have in their donor database.
  • You multiply your reach: engaged and active marathon participants reach out to their entire networks for support. This means your organization will be able to tap into completely new groups of donors and potential supporters
  • Donors give to support individuals: many new donors make their initial donation because they received a personal ask from a marathon participant, not because they are passionate about the organization… well at least not yet!
  • A fun and unique experience: Even if your organization does multiple golf events throughout the year, the golf marathon is an extremely unique experience that many marathoners can’t wait to participate in

First Tee Charleston Golf Marathon Participants before the 7 am Tee Time

Logistics and Planning

When you’re planning your Golf Marathon consider all the traditional elements of planning a regular golf tournament. Also take into consideration:

  • What time of year would be best for an all-day event?
  • Who will be heading the event, would creating a small committee be more beneficial?
  • Given the length of the day, will you need to ask volunteers to come in shifts?

Who

Since most courses are just 18 holes, golfers end up rotating through the course multiple times. This leads to a lot of Golf Marathons being limited to 40 - 70 golfers. Never fear, this limited number can actually be a good thing! You can use the limited capacity to highlight this event as being for a special group of golfers, your true champions, who will go above and beyond for the organization.

You can also set expectations for your golfers to fundraise a minimum amount. Pro-tip: think of your larger goal then divide that by the number of participants you plan to have. Then you’ll be able to identify the fundraising expectations needed for each golfer. Using Pledge It’s built in registration process, you can seamlessly have your participants secure their spot as a participant AND create a fundraising page within minutes!

How to Motivate Participants

While you know these golfers are passionate about your organization, they still might need some extra motivation to kick-start fundraising. Just like a live leaderboard during a traditional tournament, fundraising leaderboards can be a huge motivator. Everyone wants to see their name at the top. During the weeks leading up to the marathon make sure you gamify fundraising by highlighting who is actively raising funds (and more importantly, who is in the running to steal the #1 fundraiser's crown).

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Also, consider other incentives that can be used to motivate fundraisers. This might look like gear from one of your sponsors, a special title for the top fundraisers, a large prize for any hole-in-ones (we recommend getting this insured), or any other special incentive that you can think of. Whatever your incentives might be, use the weeks leading up to the event to share messages that inspire, motivate, and excite your golfers. Here is a look at a short weekly email that First Tee Fort Worth sent to motivate their golfers.

Lastly, provide material that highlights your organization to participants for them to share when asking for support. Email templates, short videos, or impact stories can all give marathoners the confidence they need to take the first steps towards asking for support.

Day of the Event

Planning for the event has taken months but the day itself will fly by. Future you will thank yourself for being well-organized beforehand. Many golf marathons actually see a large amount of fundraising happening during the days leading up to and during the Golf Marathon. Take Folds of Honor for example, over $40,000 of their total $75,000 was raised in just the last week leading up to and the day of their Golf Marathon!

The friendly competition on the course tends to transfer over to the fundraiser leaderboards as well. You can motivate your golfers by giving live updates when fundraisers take new positions on the fundraiser leaderboard throughout the day. If you happen to reach your overall fundraising goal, you should set a new stretch goal for the day of.

Another great way to celebrate participants is by creating branded signs for the event. Each participant can fill their own sign out with how many holes they played and a personal note. Snap a picture of them holding the sign so they can send that to their donors!

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Mistakes to Avoid

  1. Planning too late - From securing sponsors, volunteers, and the golfers themselves, start planning your events well in advance so people have time to reserve that date on their calendar
  2. Not setting expectations for golfers - The last thing you want is for a specific golfer to cost you. Make sure you’re setting expectations that this is a fundraising event, not just a fun experience
  3. Not marketing the event to new golfers in your organization - golf marathons are a great way to engage with a new audience. Look at your professional groups or private clubs for fresh/new faces
  4. Never settle - if your first golf marathon is a huge success then congratulations! That means the sky is the limit, make sure to wrap up your marathon by asking the golfers, volunteers, sponsors, etc areas that can be improved for the future

Whether you are a seasoned pro at hosting golf marathons or interesting in doing your first, every golf marathon is unique. The Pledge It team would love to connect and brainstorm ways to capitalize on your fundraising potential!

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Published on April 8, 2022

by Suzanne Rupe

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