Golfing Magazine Long Island Spring 2012 Issue : Page 18
CHARITY STAYS ON COURSE By David Weiss By all accounts, the game of golf was created, or invented, or stumbled upon over ﬁve centuries ago. Utilizing golf as a tool for raising money and awareness toward worthy causes doesn’t date back quite that far … but in our neck of the woods and fairways, it does go back at least a half-century. (More about the Sal-vation Army of Suffolk Outing in the pages that follow.) Through the years, we’ve seen charity golf outings evolve. Many started out as informal gatherings among friends, and later expanded into full-blown, multi-faceted events. The logistics of holding a golf outing have followed a parallel path, with the changing economic climate playing an important role in the size, shape and scope of these outings. It is time to explore charity golf outings from a number of perspectives to see what makes them tick, and the elements that can ensure success. Salvation Army of Suffolk Golf Outing, circa 1960s Cindy Mardenfeld Infinity Relations, Inc. s an expert in the fields of event management, media outreach, social media, strategic planning and marketing, Cindy has coordinated all kinds of events and functions – and that has included charity golf out-ings. For the last few years, she’s been involved in the annual Lisa Beth Gerstman Golf Classic, which supports a foundation helping children with special needs to attend summer camp. A portion of the proceeds also goes toward Autism Speaks. “In the Lisa Beth Gerstman Golf Classics I’ve been a part of, my responsibilities include acting as the liason between the golf committee and the golf club,” says Cindy. “We need to make sure it’s a seamless today, from start to finish.” A Strategy & goals of a charity golf outing “Any event needs a strategy, with defined goals as to what the return on the investment is going to be. A golf outing needs to have a marketing plan that goes beyond ‘let’s just get some people to play for a good cause, and we’ll just show up and take it from there.’ This is why hiring a professional is imperative to do things 18 Golﬁng Magazine -Metro NY / Long Island Edition
STAYS ON COURSE
By all accounts, the game of golf was created, or invented, or stumbled upon over five centuries ago.
Utilizing golf as a tool for raising money and awareness toward worthy causes doesn’t date back quite that far … but in our neck of the woods and fairways, it does go back at least a half-century. (More about the Salvation Army of Suffolk Outing in the pages that follow.)
Through the years, we’ve seen charity golf outings evolve. Many started out as informal gatherings among friends, and later expanded into full-blown, multi-faceted events. The logistics of holding a golf outing have followed a parallel path, with the changing economic climate playing an important role in the size, shape and scope of these outings.
It is time to explore charity golf outings from a number of perspectives to see what makes them tick, and the elements that can ensure success.
Cindy Mardenfeld Infinity Relations, Inc.
As an expert in the fields of event management, media outreach, social media, strategic planning and marketing, Cindy has coordinated all kinds of events and functions – and that has included charity golf outings. For the last few years, she’s been involved in the annual Lisa Beth Gerstman Golf Classic, which supports a foundation helping children with special needs to attend summer camp. A portion of the proceeds also goes toward Autism Speaks. “In the Lisa Beth Gerstman Golf Classics I’ve been a part of, my responsibilities include acting as the liaison between the golf committee and the golf club,” says Cindy. “We need to make sure it’s a seamless today, from start to finish.”
Strategy & goals of a charity golf outing
“Any event needs a strategy, with defined goals as to what the return on the investment is going to be. A golf outing needs to have a marketing plan that goes beyond ‘let’s just get some people to play for a good cause, and we’ll just show up and take it from there.’ This is why hiring a professional is imperative to do things such as getting the word out to the media, including the relatively new ‘social media’ which so many people don’t take advantage of. I’m also very sensitive to cost-ratio with clearly-defined goals on what that money can bring back.”
Thinking long-term for a lasting impact
“Shortsightedness should be avoided when holding a golf outing. The goals need to be long-term, and that includes longterm DONORS. One way to create this relationship is to teach people about the mission of that charity and show where the donations are going. You don’t want to be a ‘one-hit wonder.’ The participants need to feel a connection that brings them back not just to future golf outings, but to any other events that are held.”
Networking is the key
“What many organizations miss out on at a golf outing are the networking opportunities at the event. We’re all well aware that an outing provides a chance for participants to network with each other, either during that round of golf or at the function afterward … but the golf committee and representatives of the charity need to reach out to do some networking as well. For example, a golf committee member can take the charity’s executive director around the room, introducing him or her to key donors, and everyone else for that matter. This creates more bonds, which is what it’s all about.”
Utilize creativity and different approaches
“At the last Lisa Beth Gerstman outing, we went with embroidered pin flags that could be purchased by sponsors, which were approximately the same price as the tee signs you see on every hole. Here’s the difference: Those beautiful pin flags are given to the sponsors to keep, which is something they can proudly display to promote their own efforts in a business sense. It’s also a nice idea to do ‘samplings’ on the course, during the cocktail hour, or during dinner.Whatever is being sampled is a benefit to the company providing it, and it adds a component of fun and interest for the participants at the outing. For raffles and auctions, tickets to sporting events or a Broadway play and such are fairly common … so why not add something to it to create an ‘experience,’ such as tickets to a Broadway show PLUS a backstage tour where you can meet the cast. That’s how you can bring in extra dollars.”
Cover all the bases, and leave nothing out
“To put it simply, every minute counts and nothing should be overlooked. When the golfers arrive for the start of the day, they are greeted by volunteers and members of the organization – but let’s say a camp is involved. Campers could hand out the goody bags so that participants can immediately see where their donations are going. The banquet should have a program in which those who benefit are featured. And most importantly, you need to have follow-up. E-mails, photos, personal letters … all to maximize the involvement of everyone who took part.”
Some overlooked aspects of a charity golf outing
“Many organizations and golf committees don’t try to negotiate to get the best deal possible with the golf club where the event is being held. Try to lower the minimum (number of golfers required) while also reading the fine print. It never hurts to ask about extras, and to be flexible about the catering.
“Another aspect of the day is the simple assumption that the weather will be cooperative – and if it isn’t, just have a rain date. If you’re holding an outing with participants coming from longer distances, it would be better to have a Plan B. For example, the golf might be rained out, but the event is held at the club anyway with tables set up to turn the outing into a ‘casino night.’ Obviously, these ‘just in case’ scenarios need to be worked out in advance.”
“And finally, as previously mentioned, the golf committee and organizations need to take advantage of the media (including social media) to pre-promote the event, to cover the outing itself, and even do stories after-the-fact. All of these things can go a long way to creating long-lasting success for the outing.”
BF Golf Tournament Services
Overall philosophy and goals of a charity/fundraiser golf outing:
The end result of a golf fundraiser should be to put on a well-run and professional golf tournament that can be enjoyed by the golfers and yield important financial resources for the sponsoring organization. Put simply, the outing should “provide fun and funds for the organization.” The purpose of a golf tournament fundraiser should be well-stated in all print, visual, and media correspondence.
We help our charity event clients clearly articulate the purpose of the event. It is important to gain support for the tournament by publicizing the charity that will benefit from the event to all vertical markets in the local area. The charity must be clear as to where the funds will go and the cause it will support. It is important to let prospective golfers know that your charity is a nonprofit (501c3) exempt organization.
Ideally the overall goal of the organization should be to sustain the event as annual opportunity for golfers to enjoy and support. This clearly demonstrates that the organization is serious and dedicated to supporting the charitable contributions to the community and it mission. Putting on an exciting and enjoyable tournament gives golfers an opportunity to look forward to each year and builds the customer base over the years.
The importance for nonprofits and organizations to ‘set themselves apart’ at their outings by offering things not found elsewhere.
In the current tough economic climate it is very important for non-profits and organizations to solicit sponsors at all levels and to partner with them to publicize their companies and charitable causes in all materials for the golf tournament. (Tee Sponsor Sign, Banners, Plaques, Awards, Radio, TV, Newspapers). If possible, the event should have a Title Sponsor. We encourage our clients to try to get the CEO or President of the company to speak or present at their event and to be sure to have a highly visible major sponsor board that identifies all sponsors. At the conclusion of your event be sure to send out thank you letters, photographs/ videos and a gift if possible.
Services that can be provided at a golf outing to increase success
A company such as ours can offer everything from planning to execution of services such as consulting, signage, auction products, printed materials, awards, insurance coverage, commemorative photography and videos, and much more. All of these can help to increase the bottom line.
Unique promotions that you found were a big hit with the outing participants, and helped the bottom line.
BF Golf Tournament Services has several unique promotions that we have used at golf tournaments that were big hits and fun for the players. We have included a physical therapist doing stretching exercises with golfers, companies doing golf club fitting, artists who create unique personal paintings and caricatures, and golf exhibitions including trick shot demonstrations. These types of programs are done before the shotgun start and it is great entertainment for the players. It is also great when professional athletes from other sports play in the tournaments or make guest appearances. Golf tournaments are a great source of revenue for any organization; the key is to do it right the first time and the following tournaments will be much easier to do and more successful for all.
Viewing the future of charity/ fundraiser golf outing
The exciting combination of golf, charitable fundraisers, and special corporate promotions is a win-win-win formula. I still see it as a growth industry for the game of golf, for community development, and corporate advancement. From our viewpoint, we’ve been proud to work with so many organizations that provide much needed support for their specific charities.
Charity golf outings are now in a very competitive market, with over 1500 golf tournaments on Long Island alone. The choices of tournaments a player can play in are voluminous. If your outing is not up to par the players have many other options. At the same time the cost is up $200 to $500 to participate in most tournaments. With the economic situation I feel that the charities will face an up hill battle to compete for sponsors and players until the economy start to turn around.
United Cerebral Palsy of Nassau County
As the UCP Nassau Golf Outing celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2012, tournament chairman Joel Paymer, co-chair Phil Dissenger and vice chairman Greg Raffa reflect on how the outing began, and how far it’s come:
“The outing began 30 years ago when two men, Mario Paramadani and Jerry Moreale, sought to help UCP of Nassau as Mario’s son, Mark, was receiving services at the center (and still does, to this day). The ‘Mulligan Club,’ made up of 20 dedicated people, came together to organize an annual golf & tennis event to benefit UCP of Nassau County. Over half of the members of this club have been involved for over 15 years, with new members added over the last few years who have provided new and creative ideas for the fundraising efforts. Two years ago, we brought back the tennis portion of the event, and it has quickly been restored to its former glory. The golf committee has garnered support from the members at North Hills Country Club (where the event is held), who have shown just how caring and charitable they are.
Behind the scenes of a ‘Golf Committee,’ and the efforts that create success:
This breaks down to two areas. The aforementioned “Mulligan Club” is responsible for soliciting and obtaining raffle prizes (over 100 of them, valued at well over $100.00 each) as well as the sponsorships and reaching out to entice people to attend the outing. You also have the countless volunteers on the day of the outing, along with the people that work at UCPN. They do the logistics and are vital to the success of the event. Together we have a team that can’t lose.
Goals as to what the golfer should experience at the outing:
A person that attends the UCPN Golf and Tennis Outing will feel as if they are a member of North Hills Country Club for the day. The members, management team and employees of North Hills are second-to-none in terms of warmth and hospitality.
Outing participants will also learn about UCPN, and what the event is all about. At the end of the day, they will not only talk about coming back the next year, but will talk about bringing other golfers to the event … and possibly being involved in the planning of the outing as well.
Noteworthy, unusual and/or humorous stories from past UCP Nassau outings:
About 5 years ago we had TWO holes in ones. One golfer, a long-time supporter named David Green, won a brand new Mercedes … and another golfer aced a par 3 for a cool $25,000. Nice way to spend the day. We also have a 50/50 raffle called the Century raffle, 100 tickets per color, 100. 00 each and the winner gets $5000. 2 years ago our Chairman Emeritus, Ron Belistri won two of them and let UCPN keep all of the money. People such as Ron, with big hearts, ensures success at this event year after year.
Thanks Troops Golf Outing
Bill Gilkes, Jr. Is a native Long Islander now living in Clearwater, Florida, and is the driving force behind two of these events to honor and raise funds for our wounded warriors.
“I first started organizing these thanks troops events down in Florida as a result of going to one in Colorado and seeing first hand where and what the funds were for. It became quite clear to me as a former United States Marine, having experience in organizing golf events, that this was the right thing for me to do. It is a humbling experience to put one of these events together and takes me 8 months from start to finish. I am working on my 4th annual Thanks Troops event in Tampa, Florida, which is already pre-sold at this juncture, and my 3rd Thanks Troops event on Long Island to be held at the Cherry Creek Links in Riverhead.
“I’ve have been the Marketing Director for the PGA of America in Central Florida since 1993, presently retired. Over the years that I have lived in Florida, I was a wallpaper hanger and hung paper for many important people and celebs, leading to some key connections to get golfers, sponsors and prizes. Being well connected is vital for raising funds. Helping our wounded warriors and their families is "priceless," and there is a saying, ‘divots can be replaced ... freedom can't’. To see wounded warriors playing golf, having a blast, laughing and enjoying the outdoors after what they have been through for our freedom is the most humbling part of organizing these events.
“An outing of this size takes golfers, sponsors, volunteers, a golf course that is willing to make some sacrifices and doesn't necessarily worry about their bottom line that day. The entire staff at the Links at Cherry Creek staff came on board in a large way and worked very hard to make this event a huge success. I think being raised on Long Island and working in Patchogue for several years gave me the edge on knowing so many wonderful people who have been an important part of this event from day one.
“Some things you won’t see at other outings include the U.S. Coast Guard doing a fly-over, along with participation from the Suffolk County Police Emerald Green Bag Pipe Band and the Harbormen. We also had former President Bush as a spokesperson, which was clearly the icing on the cake.
“I have been in the golf industry for a very long time in one capacity or another… and there’s no doubt that when it comes to charitable efforts, Long Islanders get it!”
Salvation Army of Suffolk Golf Outing
Fifty years. That’s how long it’s been since the first golf outing was held to benefit the Salvation Army of Suffolk County. Although it’s difficult to offer precise empirical data on such things, we can be reasonably confident that this outing represents the longest-continuing charity tournament on Long Island. This year’s outing will be held at Island Hills Country Club in Sayville on May 17th. Paul Vincent, who heads up development at the Suffolk chapter, joined the Salvation Army in 1984, offers some history and stories about this outing, and what has made it so special.
“That very first outing 50 years ago in 1962 was held at Gull Haven in Central Islip – just a 9-hole course – with patients at the adjacent Central Islip Psychiatric Center working as caddies at the outing. According to those who were there, the caddies would occasionally be called off the fairways to go inside to take their medication, and then return minutes later.
“From the very beginning, our chapter has been blessed with an incredible golf committee that has consistently gone the extra mile to make it a fun day for everyone, while at the same time keeping the individual golfer fee as low as possible. Proceeds have always gone toward sending underprivileged youngsters in Suffolk County to summer camp. It’s a wonderful place called Star Lake Camp in northern New Jersey. In recent years, we’ve also used our funds to support youth programs in general.
“As with so many other outings, it more than just the dollars. There are many outing participants who stay connected to the Salvation Army through this event, and that’s why we held it for several years at Middle Island and Timber Point – each with three 9-hole courses – to accommodate over 200 golfers who played. Before that, we had a double-shotgun at Brentwood Country Club. One year, we actually had 240 golfers take part. There is a casual nature to our outing; a way to stay in touch with our chapter and socialize with people you haven’t seen for a while.
“One of the most unusual things that ever happened at one of our outings was in 1992. Our annual emcee, David Weiss (Golfing Magazine’s very own Associate Editor and Long Island radio & TV personality), was playing in the tournament. On one of the par 3’s at Middle Island where we were giving away a car for a hole-in-one, David lost control of his golf club which flew out of his hand and smashed into the windshield of the holein- one prize car situated BEHIND the tee box. Despite the incident, we did invite David back again and again. (David and Salvation Army of Suffolk past president John Juston pictured to the right.)
“Looking forward, I can’t ever see a time when we would even consider doing away with this golf outing, no matter how tough the economy is. It’s always on our schedule, every May, and is as much a part of what we do as ringing the bells during the holiday season. For us, it’s more than fundraising. It’s FRIEND-raising.”
Read the full article at http://www.bluetoad.com/article/Charity+Outings/1048174/108791/article.html.