Outdoor fundraisers, particularly when the weather is warm, are a great way of raising money. What is even greater is an outdoor fundraising in which participants get to participate in a fun outdoor activity and at the same time, donate funds.

Miniature golf tournaments are popular among many people looking to fundraise. One of the reasons it is so popular is the fact that mini golf is a game fit for both adults and children.  It’s a great way to have some family fun in the state of New York for a good cause.

While these tournaments are a great way to raise funds, their success largely depends on how well it is planned and organized.

Below is a step to step guide on how to plan a mini golf fundraising tournament like a pro. Additionally, there are a few potential locations to host mini-golf events in New York.

Mini Golf Tournament Planner

One thing is very important to plan a mini golf fundraising event like a pro, the ability to manage time well and plan adequately. It is important to keep in mind that a failure to plan ultimately increases the risk of a failed event. Many planning experts recommend starting the planning at least 12 months before the planned fundraising date.

(Source: The New York Times)

1. Twelve to Nine Months to Event

In New York, it is never too early to plan an event and especially if one wants to do it like a pro and attract a significant turnout.

  • The first step involves doing three things; identifying a specific date for the event, determining the time and most importantly, identifying a location (mini golf course) to host the event. At this point, one may have to readjust things such as date and time based on factors such as the availability of the location. One should also set the date and time with the target audience in mind.
  • If one so wishes, now are also the best time to appoint a willing tournament director/chief planner. A candidate willing to invest positive energy and time into planning the event is preferred.
  • It is also advisable to settle on a theme for the event. Having a theme makes the tournament more memorable and more unique.
  • Additionally, it is vital for the planner to select the desired contest types as well as determine the kind of teams that will take part in the tournament. Common contests included a hole in one, closest to the hole, longest putt, aces and deuces, honest John and 1-2-3 best ball among others. Examples of possible team categories include couples, family, students against teachers, club teams and even corporate teams among others.
  • It is also advisable to determine the type of sideline activities that will take place at the fundraising event. Some possible activities to consider include guest speakers, auctions and even raffle competitions.
  • Another important task to perform is setting a preliminary budget for the mini golf fundraising event. According to experts, there are two ways of doing this. Firstly, one can set the entry fees, and any other applicable fees then plan expenses based on these fees.

Alternatively, one can set a budget by first determining expenses and peripheral incomes (such as those from event sponsors) then determining how much is required to balance the expenses against incomes while still factoring in projected profits.

  • The success of any event largely depends on factors such as the kind of commitment or investment that planners/ event organizers inject into the event. Selling sponsorships are one way of filling in any financial/ resource based gaps that may arise.

There are lots of ways event sponsors can chip in. For example, they may sponsor individual holes or individual contests. Sponsors may also donate prizes, gifts or even services such as catering.

  • Lastly and very importantly, this is the best time to start publicizing the planned mini-golf fundraising tournament. An important thing to remember is that the level of publicity a planned event gets greatly determines the attendance of the event.

Effective channels of communicating the event to the public include; local radio and TV stations, school/ church newsletters or magazines, fliers, signs, and banners among others. Social media such as Facebook and Twitter are also effective PR tools, particularly when dealing with an urban population such as that of New York.

2. Six to Three Months to Event

The event is drawing nearer, and this means it is time for the planner to adopt a hands-on approach to the planning process. This is a good time to finalize on things such as the final list of sideline activities that will take place. This includes finalizing on menus, beverages, and entertainment. Also, it is preferable to finalize on financial matters and particularly on issues such as entry fee and the events budget.

It is also prudent to design the entry forms/ invites for the event at least three months prior. Colors play a huge role in capturing attention, and therefore, colored paper or ink is highly recommended. If the event has sponsors, the invite should include a visual of their logo and a mention of the company name. It is also wise to incorporate the theme of the event in the entry form/invite.

One could also include a summary of what the fundraising is for and how it will help the beneficiaries; something short but informative and straight to the point. Also include other information including date: time, prizes on the line, deadline day for acceptance of invite or registration and entry fees among others.

In addition to that, this is the best time to make the final arrangements for any prizes or awards included in the fundraising tournament. It is better to focus on prizes/awards that are simple but powerful at the same time; awards with intrinsic value and heritage are therefore recommended.

If any sponsors had promised to provide prizes/awards, this is the appropriate time to follow up on their pledges and ensure they actively fulfill the pledges.

It is important to have a team in hand at a mini-golf fundraising tournament particularly if it includes extra activities such as the provision of entertainment, food, and beverages. Having an adequate number of helpers is of absolute importance. Early recruitment of volunteers or helpers for the event is advisable. Not only does it allow for careful vetting, but it also affords the event organizers time to get their team together and develop a single and a unified sense of purpose.

Mini Golf Tournament Planner

Other tasks to perform in this stage of planning include;

  • More publicity
  • Securing sponsorships
  • Distribute invites and entry forms

3. Three to One Month to Event

By this time, most of the real planning has already taken place, and most of the tasks that remain are simply confirmatory ones. For example, this is the perfect time to confirm the reservation of the mini golf course on the desired date and the desired time.

Organizers should also confirm that foods and beverages are for the event and in the case of supplies, remind suppliers to deliver in time. Also, confirm availability of prizes and awards.

4. 2 Days to Event

With the actual event just around the corner, this is the ideal time to make and prepare any auction/raffle items, tournament rules, hole assignments and any other printed material one wishes to distribute at the event.

To add on that, organizers ought to make confirmations on things such as the final list of players/participants as well as the availability of food and beverages among other things.

Equally as important is to confirm that the golf course has everything the organizers have requested for the event. This includes clubs, golf balls, scorecards and the necessary visuals such as distinct lines in the fairways and circles on the greens among other requirements.

5. Actual Day of Event

Time is of utmost importance in this final stage. It is critical for organizers to keep time and stay on schedule. Organizers should not forget to put up sponsor signs and banners, place contest makers in the appropriate holes, set up a registration desk (in good time) and also including a photographer for the fundraising event.

6. After Fundraising Event

The process does not end when the event ends. Organizers have to ensure they make plans to have the site cleaned up. This is particularly crucial if the event involved the provision of food and beverages. Secondly, organizers should clear any unpaid bills and even write thank you notes to sponsors, volunteers and even participants.

To cap it all up like a complete pro, writing a report of the event and all its appropriate financials is the highly responsible thing to do. A report is really important in situations where the organizers intend on planning a similar event in future.

Possible Fundraising Activities for the Mini Golf Tournament

Fundraising Activities

Organizers of the event could raise necessary funds using a wide range of techniques and methods. Some of these are;

  • Selling raffle tickets where one or two lucky people get to win certain prizes/awards.
  • Selling foods and beverages to participants of the tournament. Some golf courses may even allow organizers to run their concession stand serving snacks and beverages.
  • Auctioning handcrafted pieces of art or some of the donated products or services. A unique way of doing this is through silent auctions where people simply write their bid down on paper sheets. The highest bidder gets announced at the end of the event.
  • Fundraising experts also recommend indirectly asking guests and participants for donations. A good example of this is placing donation boxes/jugs in strategic locations around the mini golf course.
  • A popular way of raising funds is through the tournament entry fee.

Best Mini Golf Courses for Events in New York

In 2015, there were 72 registered mini golf courses in New York State. Simply put, there is an abundance of possible locations for a mini golf event in New York. Here are five golf courses worth a mention.

1. Pier 25 in Hudson River Park

Located in Tribeca, Lower Manhattan, this is the only golf course in Manhattan. However, it offers an unforgettable mini golfing experience with its expansive 18 holes mini golf course and an exciting terrain that includes footbridges, sand traps a cave and even a waterfall stream. It is also a great location for organizers planning to have a variety of peripheral activities as Pier 25 also includes a skate park, a snack bar, and even a beach volleyball court.

2. Randall’s Island Golf Center

Randall’s center is located on 1 Randall’s Island in New York City. One of the most defining features of this complex is its two 18-hole courses. It is also one of the best mini golf courses to host an event in New York.

The landscape includes a waterfall, a cave, a stream and natural features such as trees (which can provide shade during summer). It is also strategically located and is near the Bronx, Queens, and Manhattan. Best of all, it provides a chance to enjoy mini-golf while taking in the breathtaking views of East River and uptown Manhattan.

3. Brooklyn Golf Center

This course is located in South Brooklyn and specifically in the Marine Park area. It is an 18-hole course that has a rustic theme and got renovated in 2010. It has a designated picnic area which makes it ideal for a mini golf fundraising tournament in which the organizers wish to sell foods and beverages. It is considered as a difficult but exciting course, and it even offers an extra hole at the end of the course. Best of all, it is affordable.

4. Flushing Meadows Golf Center

This 18-hole course is located in Flushing Meadows Park, New York. It has two main advantages to it; it is open all through the year, and second, it has lights which make it possible to keep it open as late as midnight especially during the seasons of summer and late spring. It also has additional amenities such as a full-service snack bar and even picnic facilities.

5. Shipwrecked Miniature Golf

Mini-golf fundraising tournaments don’t necessarily have to take place outdoors. The Shipwrecked mini golf course is located at 621 Court St in Brooklyn, New York. It is an indoor miniature golf course featuring an interactive mini golf experience complete with theatrical lighting and even special effects.

The biggest advantage is that it is indoors and can, therefore, host mini golf events effectively regardless of weather. Food, snacks and both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are also provided within the course.

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How to Plan a Mini Golf Fundraising Event Like a Pro!

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