Alzheimer’s Auckland has made its annual golf day a success by rolling two golf days into oneSusan Fogarty examines how the event has grown to raise NZ$153,000, with the help of corporate and community organisations.

Events are an important part of the fundraising mix at Alzheimer’s Auckland, a charitable trust founded in 1985 to provide free services to dementia affected members of the community. Based in Royal Oak, the organisation is the beneficiary of New Zealand’s biggest golf day fundraiser, which raised a net donation of NZ$153,000 for the organisation in February this year.  

 “The organisation is mindful of reducing dependency on grants and is always looking to expand into different income streams,” says Rosemary Ledingham, Alzheimer’s Auckland’s fundraising manager.

 The event has grown significantly in recent years, despite a challenging economic backdrop. Just six years ago the event raised a net donation of NZ$20,000, but since then around NZ$750,000 has been raised in total for the organisation.

 “Only a few years ago organisers found it hard to sell the last few available slots, but in the last three years the event has been a sell out with a reserve list,” explains Ledingham.

Rotary helps event tee off

The tournament, held at the Titirangi Golf course, has grown from a concept by a number of Parnell Rotarians to a corporatised fundraising event, leveraging partners to maximise participation and sponsorship.

It is now a joint effort between Alzheimer’s Auckland, Progressive Enterprises and Rotary – with all three organisations being represented on the event’s organising committee. Each organisation puts a substantial amount of time and effort in to the event’s planning and organisation.

The day consists of two separate golf competitions: with around 150 golfers teeing off in the morning, and the same number of players again taking to the course in the afternoon. Each group enjoys a formal three-course meal afterwards – lunch for the morning group, dinner for the afternoon players – which is accompanied by prize giving and auctions.

“Every participant receives a prize on the day from a total prize pool valued at more than $100,000,” explains Ledingham. “All of our suppliers who contribute sponsorship also supply products – from wine to sausages – and run fun activities throughout the day.”

 Supermarket support puts success in the trolley

 Progressive Enterprises, which owns and operates 160 Countdown supermarkets throughout New Zealand, has been the overall sponsor for the past nine years; while the Rotary Club of Parnell is the official organiser of the event. Another nonprofit was supported initially, but Alzheimer’s Auckland has been the beneficiary for the past eight years.

 “It’s the team work involved between the three partners that makes the day such a success,” says Ledingham. “That and the attention to detail, planning and great effort which goes in to the day.”

 Progressive Enterprises plays an important role in the day’s success by inviting suppliers to register as hole sponsors and encouraging them to register teams of four. While the initial sponsorship invite is issued by Progressive Enterprises, the follow-up is handled by Alzheimer’s Auckland – demonstrating the co-operative approach to executing the day.

 “Hole sponsors have naming rights on their sponsored hole and can undertake promotional activities ‘on course’ if they wish,” explains Ledingham.

Hole sponsors hold BBQs or competitions on their sponsored hole, like battery company Energizer which parked the powerboat it sponsors on its hole and offered a drive of the boat as a prize. In 2009, a toilet roll company had planned to give away a year’s supply of toilet rolls for the longest drive on its hole, but was unable to because the tournament was rained out.

Despite the washout, that year’s event was still a success – showing the great support offered by the event’s partners. “Remember to have a Plan B,” notes Ledingham. “Rain cancelled play after six holes in 2009, but despite this the event still raised NZ$120,000.”

Reviewing to stay fresh, successful

 Ledingham says while the golf day is the envy of many other event organisers in New Zealand, it is constantly reviewing and improving on the event’s format that has seen it grow so successfully. She believes attention to detail and making the event a fun experience are key elements to the day’s success.

 “The last people to finish their rounds should have as good an experience as those at the beginning of the day,” she says, noting the important role Rotary volunteers play in delivering a smoothly run day. “It’s the work well prior to the day that ensures the tournament is successful.

 “We also review each golf day following the event, which enables any small problems to be ironed out or areas to be improved on for the following year,” adds Ledingham.

 While Ledingham knows New Zealand’s economic situation could see sponsors and supporters come and go, she believes it’s important to continuously improve and refresh the day to keep it successful. To date, economic fluctuations haven’t affected the event in any notable way.

  “The event is still as popular as ever,” says Ledingham. “Perhaps the auctioneers have to work harder though!”

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