HELP! Fundraising Ideas for Junior Golf Non-Profit

Speaker List on website

I need the help of the Refuge… We, The River Cup Foundation, just finished the 21st Edition of our “Charity Dinner” which helps fund local junior golf programs. In the last few years our event has become less and less interesting. We have had some amazing speakers in the past, including Steiny, tour players, presidents of organizations, etc, who usually give a solo presentation for about 10-20 mins and then Q&A for the last 10 mins with the crowd.

The dinner somewhat ties into our other fundraiser which is a golf outing a few months previous. We are small but mighty as an organization, and our books have looked great for the last few years. If anyone remembers, we split the fundraising dollars between NLU and RCF to bring the Strapped Boys to Peoria (@Randy @djpie and @MerchCzar ).

Our “dinner” fundraiser is in need of a face-lift. I am open to any and all suggestions and ideas to help our event. I have proposed more of an interview format for the guest and also trying to get some younger speakers lol (see list above). We charge about $100/plate for a filet steak dinner so its not outrageously expensive and some younger headliners could help encourage some new money into the mix. IMO we are still a little too “country clubby” as an organization but thats a relative statement for Peoria, IL compared to the rest of the USA.

What is the best fundraiser event that you have attended? Do you have any suggestions or changes for our dinner? Would love to hear everyone’s input so I can take it to the board for 2024. Thanks in advance!



I’m sure it’s hard to get people to attend a dinner. I’m under the assumption most attendees are there for the donation rather than the speaker. You could maybe sneak into the contract with the guest speaker to do an additional video where people could donate to ask specific questions benefiting the River Cup rather than making the effort to be in attendance and casting a wider net.

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Thats a good idea. We could promote online questions as part of our marketing efforts. Do you think a plated dinner is a turn off? I have suggested a more relaxed setting with buffet type service. Just trying to find ways to jazz it up a bit.


Do most attendees know each other well? Are spouses friendly? These impact the way people choose to prioritize the events locally.

Agree with your observation, but i think that is going on everywhere. Maybe because phones are so prevalent, everyone is constantly checking them.

If I were to make a suggestion, agree more interactive and perhaps non golf focused entertainment. But really have no idea. Thanks for posing the question though!

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28 yo single male, not interested in getting dressed up for dinner.

That being said I think there is a place for these kinds of events. If money is the goal, I would propose having a silent auction that is based online. Up here in northern IL we do an online silent auction every year of public and private 4-somes. It can be as easy as having an AI draft a bulk letter that you can transform for each specific course and then email them to GMs in the area to see if they will donate a voucher.

Link for the site we use at the IJGA

For excitement: always love a good trivia contest but if this is a black tie event I don’t think it will fit in well.


I have some experience here and would be happy to brainstorm with you on this.

Do you guys have a theme?

For example: I’ve done one in the past for kids golf called “Pack your bags for Pebble” which included an all expenses paid trip for four people to Pebble beach (including airfare).

We took about 100 suitcases and stacked them up in a pyramid with one suitcase having the grand prize, some were empty, some had various other prizes.
Then, we did a live auction with the winning bidder getting to play the game (similar to who wants to be a millionaire). The kids from the local golf program were the suitcase openers and helped put the suitcases together.

It was really fun, raised a ton of money, and got the entire room involved trying to tell the gal who won which box to pick.

I’m finding that the more interactive fundraiser tends to be more memorable and mixes it up compared to the 100 other fundraisers I’m guessing this crowd goes to.

Again, I’ve done a million of these and am more than happy to chat through some ideas with ya!


Hey Phegs,

I work as a market research/project manager for a philanthropic consulting firm in Chicago. While I don’t have direct experience working with nonprofits (I suppose I help manage people who work with nonprofits), I have one main suggestion.

I certainly think you have the right frame of mind by trying to get younger people into the mix, but you will have to utilize multiple social media platforms to reach them. Pertaining to the dinner, that speaker list is truly incredible. Relying on the weight of those speaker names across many social media platforms might make an impact.


Attendees are encouraged to purchase a table of 8. We don’t sell many individual tickets. I am still trying to move the purchasing of tables or single tickets to an online format. The board members still prefer checks mailed directly to the committee to garner a table… this is what I am working with lol

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Currently I run the website, twitter, and facebook pages. We also have email marketing capabilities and text when we really want to get aggressive. I am trying to get the board to approve more involvement on the digital side (ie online payments) but it hasn’t passed yet. The board still likes to collect payments via mailed personal check or cash which just blows my mind.

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Money is a priority but the experience of the speaker is also a plus. I do like the online auction aspect and have tried to pass that idea with the board. We are still taking checks for event payment lol. I’m pushing more for online payments and would love to run some kind of online auction leading up to the event(s).

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I worked with these guys for Tom Coyne’s book launch. Could be a good platform to at least give the board a visual to sell your idea.

That is truly wild, online payments open up so many new possibilities and ease for your current/future donor base.

Email campaigns with speaker bios, rsvp registration, and other dinner info could be a step forward. Then again, if your recurring donor base sends checks/cash in the mail, I’m not sure how receptive they will be to more media outlets.

My wife and I attended a fundraiser for a local Education Foundation a few weeks ago. The format was a draw-down, something I had never heard of before that night. I was super impressed.

They hired a comedian to call the numbers as they came off the board. There were 1,000 numbers sold at $100 each. Dinner was included with the cost of the ticket/number. I’m sure the prize, dinner and comedian came off the top of the $100k they raked in but they still must have came away with a bundle.

The excitement built as the numbers faded away. My wife and I made it down to the final dozen numbers remaining. The grand prize was $10,000 cash, which the final 3 decided to split evenly. So, the final 3 numbers were never called.

I have attached a link that best describes for those like me, that have never heard of draw-down.

Drawdown - Prominent Technologies!

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Ive been banging my head against the wall for 3-4 years now. I don’t directly run the events so I can only suggest what payment option the committee of that event decides to use.

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