You’ve set a date and booked a golf facility—now it’s time to get people on the green! A well-crafted, personalized invitation is a great way to rally your donors, constituents, volunteers, and partners to attend. Personalizing your invitations is a great marketing tactic that not only garners the recipient’s attention but makes them feel valued. After all, wouldn’t you rather open a letter addressed to you rather than something vague, like “valued supporter”?
According to GolfStatus, the average golfer’s annual income is near twice that of the average American, which makes them prime candidates for donors. Because the golfer donor is such a valuable audience segment, inviting them in the most personal way possible makes them more inclined to participate or donate to your event. Here are seven tips to effective golf fundraiser invitations.
1. Segment your audience.
Your organization likely has a great base of contacts to invite to your charity golf tournament. Start by segmenting your recipients by your chosen criteria to tailor your messaging to appeal to each audience segment. You can segment by:
- Age or gender
- Past event participation
- Giving history
- Volunteer history
- Interest in a particular program or outreach effort
- Geographic location
- Job title or organization
It’s important to note that to create these segments for targeted messaging, it’s important to collect as much information about your contacts as possible. If you haven’t done this in the past, now’s the time to start! You can better understand your audience by conducting surveys, hosting focus groups, tracking email opens and clicks, or using social media to gather insights.
2. Determine how you’ll reach supporters.
A mix of approaches is likely to yield the best results in inviting people to play in, sponsor, or donate to your golf fundraiser. Email, direct mail, in-app messaging, social media, are all possibilities to include in your marketing mix.
According to Double the Donation, email fundraising has the highest ROI of any fundraising communication method. It’s effective in reaching a wide audience with less time and expense, and it can be scheduled to send at certain dates or times with calls-to-action specific to an audience segment. Craft clickable and compelling subject lines that capture the recipients attention so they open and act on the invitation. Use humor, wit, or creative wordplay to increase open rates, such as:
- Swing into Action: Join Us for Our Annual Golf Fundraiser
- Fore! Get Ready for a Hole-in-One Experience
- Hit the Green and Support Our Cause
- Tee Up for a Great Cause: You’re Invited to Our Golf Fundraiser
Relevant emojis can also be used sparingly as well as personalized greetings by using merge tags to make the email stand out in your recipient’s inbox.
Don’t underestimate the power of direct mail invitations. Make these printed pieces attractive, personal, branded, and compel the recipient to open it instead of tossing it straight into the recycle bin. Think about creating a custom envelope that bears your email subject line to create a cohesive campaign and pique the recipient’s interest. Or send a simple save-the-date postcard ahead of the formal invitation to get it on golfer and sponsor radars as soon as possible.
3. Personalize the invitation’s message.
Adding a layer of personalization to your invitation makes your donors feel even more seen by your nonprofit. This can be as simple as customizing the email or letter for each audience segment or any of the following creative approaches:
- Send a personalized video via email or text. Record a video from event organizers, nonprofit beneficiaries, or volunteers thanking the recipient for their past support and inviting them to attend the golf event. Add a personal touch by mentioning something specific to the recipient, such as their favorite golf course or a recent accomplishment.
- Include a small personalized gift. Show the recipient how much you value their support and involvement with a gift that plays to their interests or the type of event, such as a golf ball, can cooler, or set of tees bearing your organization or tournament’s logo along with a handwritten note. Tap your planning team, board of directors, or volunteers to help write these notes.
- Create a custom invitation package for major donors. Because this is more time and cost-intensive, it’s best to save this approach for major supporters. Design a special invitation that’s customized to the recipient, such as their name or photo, as well as event details and program highlights. You might also hand-deliver the package to the recipient’s home or office for an extra touch.
- Combine printed and digital formats. Use QR codes in printed pieces to link folks directly to the event registration website or to a personalized video that invites them to support the event.
However you choose to personalize your invitations, your message should resonate with the recipient in some way. Whether you cater to their specific interests or past involvement with the organization, a personalized ask is more likely to get a response.
4. Keep it clear and concise.
No one wants to read a wall of text in an email or letter and will fast-track your invitation right to the trash. Keep your copy brief, concise, and to the point. Use bullet points to break up text and complement text with graphics, photos, or infographics.
For example, instead of detailing everything about your event in the invitation, write a brief description and supplement it with photos from last year’s golf fundraiser. Link out to a photo album or the event website where folks can find out more about the event, what you’re raising money for, and the itinerary for the day.
5. Make them want to get involved.
Above all, your invitation should make recipients want to play in the golf event or support it in some way. Highlight elements that make it fun and exciting, specifics about the program or effort the tournament will raise funds for, and components that make it special. If you’re hosting a hole-in-one contest, raffle, or silent auction, talk up the prizes they could win. If you’re live-scoring the tournament, you could also invite people to follow along with the live leaderboards and follow certain teams (these are also a great chance to ask folks to donate to the event). If you have other games, entertainment, or demonstrations on the course, be sure to feature these in your invitations. Another idea is to create videos of your unique golf tournament fundraising ideas in action.
6. Include a call-to-action.
However you invite people to your golf fundraiser, it should be actionable. Email invitations should include a direct link to where they can register, purchase add-ons, make a donation, or purchase a sponsorship as soon as they hear about the event. Printed and mailed invitations should include a QR code that links to the same event website. Forcing people to fill out a paper form, write a check, find a stamp, and drop it in the mail creates barriers to participating. Make it simple!
Create urgency by offering early bird registration rates, offering an exclusive offer for a certain number of golfers or teams (such as a free t-shirt, gift certificate from a sponsor, or sleeve of golf balls), or limiting your tournament’s field.
7. Follow up after the tournament.
Keep the conversation going after the tournament. At a bare minimum, send recognition letters to all attendees. For major donors and sponsors, send handwritten thank you notes that help build and strengthen the relationship. Think creatively about how to keep these folks engaged with your organization, such as making check-in phone calls, inviting them for coffee or lunch, a round of golf, or a tour of your offices.
You can adapt this road map for golf tournament invitations to your nonprofit’s needs and capabilities. The goal is to create invitations that compel people to play in, sponsor, or donate to your charity golf tournament, so use these tips and best practices to make your next golf event a success.