As Charity Golf Tournaments Are Down, Oklahoma Nonprofits Find New Ways to Raise Money

By Brandes, Heide | THE JOURNAL RECORD, August 25, 2009 | Go to article overview

As Charity Golf Tournaments Are Down, Oklahoma Nonprofits Find New Ways to Raise Money


Brandes, Heide, THE JOURNAL RECORD


New charity golf tournaments are down, as are corporate sponsorships. But non-profit organizations with longtime ties to golf are finding new ways to reach the green.

In Calm Waters' annual spring golf tournament, the Oklahoma City- based non-profit found it had the exact number of golfers signed up to play at the same price as the prior years. Yet, faced with weakened economic atmosphere, Calm Waters decided to drop its net profit goal from $100,000 to $50,000.

"In the four years I've been at Calm Waters, we've increased on our tournament every year," said Lisa Kibblewhite, development director for Calm Waters. "This spring, we had the same number of participants, but where we saw a drop was in sponsorships. We were down $25,000 this year in the golf tournament sponsorships."

However, Calm Waters did reach its net profit goal.

"We had to work really hard for it this year," Kibblewhite said. "But, golf tournaments are still effective for us. We netted $100,000 the past two years, and more importantly, it gets our name in front of people who normally would not know about us."

The charity golf tournament, once the cornerstone of fundraising, has faded in popularity. Those who hold tournaments tend to be loyal to the fundraiser, but other organizations are taking a different approach to raising money.

Running to taste

For 31 years, Big Brothers Big Sisters Oklahoma, Oklahoma City Chapter, has hosted The Taste Of Oklahoma City fundraiser as its chief event. In 2008, the event raised approximately $90,000 while this year's event, held this month, brought in more than $100,000.

"We consistently grow each year," said Kelley McGuire, area director for BBBS. "We've never done a golf tournament in Oklahoma City, but Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tulsa has, and it's been very successful."

Members of the BBBS board in Oklahoma City currently are eyeing a golf tournament, McGuire said.

"You have a different target market," she said. "You get some people who don't like dress-up events and would rather participate in a golf tournament. It's about getting people involved in what they are interested in."

The Taste of Oklahoma City's popularity increases each year. In 2009, the event attracted 500 participants, filling 48 tables, up from the 350 who attended in 2008.

"Where we did actually see a dip was in corporate sponsorships," said McGuire. "Some sponsors dropped out, although some new sponsors joined in. We worked hard this year to get individual tickets sold instead of so many corporate sponsorships."

Marathons and charity walk/runs are also on the rise. The Oklahoma City National Memorial Marathon attracted 20,000-plus participants in April.

According to Road Race Management Association, national fundraising running events raised $714 million in 2006.

"The Oklahoma City National Marathon is our largest fundraising event, and because of the growth in the marathon over the last eight years, we have seen more than $1.2 million in contributions from the marathon," said Kari Watkins, Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum executive director, in a recent news release. …

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