By Leigh Steinberg
Original Post on Forbes.com, October 14, 2014
A fundamental tenant of my approach to representing athletes has been the concept that they are role models and have the ability to stimulate giving to charitable and community programs. The most commonly used event for fundraising has been the celebrity golf tournament.
It has always been valuable to utilize the glamour and allure of sports as an effective way to stimulate charitable giving, but has it reached saturation? Though it still is a positive, the sheer number of athletes and celebrities running their own fundraisers has skyrocketed, impairing the ability to motivate them to commit to external non-profit fundraising events like golf tournaments. These tournaments have been a staple for raising funds and awareness for the charities, even though they reach less than 400 people in their community. They drive corporate donors who enjoy rubbing shoulders with celebrity players, but their effectiveness is in question.
To put it in perspective, there are over a million charitable golf tournaments a year held in this country. Yet the average tournament generates $5,000 for the charity after expenses. That does not include all the time from their team and board members. To put it in perspective, the top 3 to 5 percent of tournaments produce the lion’s share of revenue like the Byron Nelson tournament. They donate $4.7 million of the $11 million they generate. But the norm is less than sufficient for most non-profits, which includes those run by athletes.
What’s an athlete to do? Many are turning to bowling and poker games. These events have smaller audiences and revenue in most cases. In addition, they are rarely as productive and enjoyable as a day on the golf course with friends and celebrities.
What does it take to bring back successful and fun charity golf events and how do you reach more than just the 144 players, 20 sponsors and a few volunteers?
Two Orange County business men, one a successful veteran in high tech, and the other a principle at Private Capital Network (Angel investors) in Newport Beach have devised a ‘smarter mousetrap’ to maximize the fun and funding around charitable giving. Ken Hubbard and Ted Hsieh created the Charity Golf Association (CGA). It is a Sustainable Giving Organization (SGO), a novel fundraising device, designed to sustain the giving by corporations without having them reach back into their pocket throughout the year for additional donations.
The process seems simple enough, corporations join as members. Their dues are used to run four membership programs. 1. THE BUFFER – CGA becomes a buffer between non-profits and member companies. The member company refers the charity to the CGA for support and in turn the CGA helps the charity with their financial and organizational requests 2. MANAGED CSR – members receive important supportive press, not on just one or two charities, but on all the charities within their community that the CGA supports. They call it Corporate Social ‘Returns,’ the rewards to companies for giving back. 3. CELEBRITY EVENTS – CGA delivers exclusive celebrity events for their members. 4. SUSTAINABILITY – The CGA invests a portion of every dollar into companies that serve the golf and non-profit industries. These investments, like their new app, Coco (short for Course Concierge) delivers refreshments right to your cart as you play a round of golf, not only improve the player experience, but also increase revenue for the course. At the same time raising funds for local charities, hence sustainability. In addition to these 4 programs, the CGA markets with great companies like RantSports.com, celebrity fan bases, their own Coco app, and social media to enhance the reach for members in excess of 13 million nationally.
In short, the CGA delivers a turnkey corporate social responsibility program, delivering returns along with responsibility, while easing the corporation’s time and financial investment. It is great for lean organizations that wish to give more without taxing their teams and finances. The CGA intends to give 80% of every dollar to these local charities. Sustainable giving – make more, give more. Their goal is to give $5 million annually to over 50 community based charities across the country that are improving the lives of mothers and children, the foundation of America.
Some of the charities that the CGA is supporting are; Mommy and Me (aiding young mothers with cancer), Boystown (supporting children of all ages), and Project Access (working to educate our less fortunate) and many more.
The Charity Golf Association is pioneering new methods to amplify the impact that corporations can have in their communities.