How to Close a Gift at Your Next Golf Outing
Can you tell I just played in my first golf outing of the year? Unfortunately, it is late August—I guess I missed the 1,000 other invitations to play in golf outings this year. Technically I paid for a foursome in a charity golf outing in April just after the Masters Golf Tournament, but of course the outing was rained out. On the day I got to play the forecast was for rain, but it only rained long after the golf outing was over. We actually scored 10 under par as a team, so the golf was fun.
The purpose of this post is to discuss how to close a gift in a golf outing. People pay to play in the outing and are typically asked to contribute additionally through raffles, auctions, etc., at the outing site. Another way to gain financial favor is to simply ask a prospect for a gift on the golf course. If people know me, then they realize my job is to eventually ask for a gift. In the context of a golf outing, I typically have a rule not to ask for a gift larger than $10,000.
If I want to ask for a larger gift, I use the golf outing as cultivation time to match the prospect and organizational representatives who are responsible for priorities. Where else do you have the unconditional attention of a prospect for at least six hours? You have the time, so make the most of it. Please note that I cultivate prospects to a point that the golf outing is a natural place to ask for a gift, especially when the prospect is relaxed and understands they are coming in support of the organization through involvement in a golf outing.
I break down the golf outing with a prospect in three parts. Part one is meeting and interacting with the prospect prior to the actual golf round being played. This might include having lunch or coffee with the prospect in a relaxed setting. Part two is sitting with the prospect in a golf cart for four hours while golf is being played from hole one through hole 18. The final part is the post-golf-round activity. This part is at times uncertain because the prospect may leave right after golf. Many prospects will remain for the reception, dinner, program, awards and “goodbye” at the car. Try to understand what you can control, and that is the four hours in a golf cart together with another twosome riding in another golf cart.
One example of closing a golf-outing gift includes the day I rode with a CEO that truly didn’t want to be there. He would hit the ball and stay on the phone for the rest of the hole. I waited until the turn between the ninth and 10th holes to talk about the organization and need for funds. On hole 15 he decided to leave the course before the round was over. I drove our golf cart to his car and pulled a pledge card out of my golf bag. I spent 20 minutes in the parking lot explaining what his $10,000 pledge would mean to the organization. He agreed to my approach, signed the card and this started a great relationship, although we never played golf together again.
At another golf outing I was with a wealthy entrepreneur who loved golf. I spent holes one through six getting to know him on a personal level. I then reviewed our organization and priorities with him from holes seven through 13. I asked him for a gift between holes 14 and 16. I spent the final two holes thanking him for considering joining a $10,000 gift club and discussed the next steps. During the reception and dinner, I purposely spent time introducing him to key organizational members. I made sure I took him to his car, and thanked him for the gift and day spent together.
At another golf outing I did not ask for any gift. I decided just to meet key prospects and cultivate them for next visits. That said, I did help introduce a concept of having a putting contest where insurance would pay $10,000 if a putt was made. Of the $10,000, $5,000 would go to the golfer and $5,000 would go to the charity. One year, one of my foursome members made the $10,000 putt!
When you attend future organizational golf events, think about how you can cultivate, solicit or steward the person sitting next to you for four hours. Over time, you will learn ways to maximize their golf engagement. It helps if they can play golf well. That makes the round more enjoyable. Remember, players come to your outing to meet key people, learn more about your organization and have a good time. Your job is to make sure all three things happen!
Duke has extensive experience as a nonprofit practitioner, author, lecturer and consultant. He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the last 11 years. He has been a long-standing member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals where he was previously named the AFP Indiana Chapter Fundraising Executive of the Year and has held the CFRE designation for many years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in education administration, master's degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also completed post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
He is currently executive director of development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, Indiana. Contact Duke at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-224-1029.