It’s not uncommon that professional groups looking for an effective way to raise money for their organizations have started to host charity golf tournaments to bring in those extra funds. Not only does this type of event help groups raise money for themselves or worthy causes, it can also build good will and provide for a day of socializing and professional networking.

An 18-hole golf scramble is exactly what the officers of the St. Louis Chapter of the Information Systems Security Association (ISSA) decided to host when they were looking for unique ways to raise money to supplement the funds needed pay for monthly luncheons and educational seminars for their 100 plus members.

Once the group’s officers committed themselves to the idea of hosting the first annual ISSA St. Louis Chapter Golf Tournament at Quail Creek Golf Course, the first order of business was to put together a small committee of volunteers who could effectively reach out to corporate sponsors for donations.

According to ISSA St. Louis Chapter treasurer, Tom Flick, this first golf scramble was held not only as a fundraiser for the St. Louis Chapter of ISSA but also for Make-A-Wish Foundation. Unlike other ISSA chapters, the St. Louis group holds luncheons and meetings that are free to its members. In addition to luncheon sponsors, fundraisers like the 2012 golf scramble help the chapter offset event costs so that there is a positive experience for those who attend. “At a lot of organizations you have to pay to attend,” said Flick. “We rely heavily on sponsorships to cover the costs. We try to provide good topics, a nice location, and everyone walks away happy.”

The registration fee for the first annual St. Louis ISSA Golf Scramble was $75 per player and included breakfast, 18-holes of golf, a golf cart for each team, event goodie bags, lunch and refreshments throughout the day. It was the golf scramble sponsors that helped the chapter offer a full day of food, drinks and prizes, all for one price. “We wanted this to be an all-inclusive, pay one fee, event,” said Flick. “We didn’t want everyone to get here and have to pay extra for snacks, drinks, and other things. So instead of spending $10 here and there, they paid one all-inclusive price.”

The First of Many Golf Scrambles

The morning of the tournament participants gathered at the Quail Creek clubhouse where breakfast was served to players and all involved in volunteering for the event. Once the announcements had concluded, greetings had been exchanged, and the players had been divided into six teams of four, the crowd headed out to the green for a fun and competitive 18-holes of golf.

Of course everyone understood the objective was for the teams to use as few strokes as possible in playing all of the 18 holes, but to keep it fun each foursome was given a camera to capture the event from their perspective. Flick stated that they got more than 80 pictures from the teams and that while some were not publishable, most really showcased all the people who made the First Annual ISSA St. Louis Chapter Golf Scramble such a great day. To help increase the fun, sponsors made contributions that were used for various prize drawings throughout the day and for contests like “Closest to the Pin” and “Longest Drive”.

Once all holes had been played, and all the team cameras had captured the firsthand accounts of the camaraderie and competition, this successful event wrapped up with a delicious lunch, awards ceremony, and the grand prize raffle from sponsor InfoSec Institute.

When the results were tallied, the tournament’s first place team walked away with each player receiving a $50 BestBuy gift card. For the golfers who followed in second place, there were $25 BestBuy gift cards for each person on the team. “We had quite a few donations, more than I thought we would get,” said Flick. “During the general drawings we would pull a name then place it back into the drawing for the grand prize provided by InfoSec Institute.”

At the end of the day one lucky player, Vladimir Klasnja of Emerson Electric, walked away with the one week training course and certification attempt for the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) credentials from event sponsor InfoSec Institute. Even though Klasnja is not a member of the St. Louis chapter of ISSA, the event was open to the public, but target to the information security crowd.

In addition, to raising funds for their own programs, the group made good on its pledge to donate 10 percent of the money raised from the 18-hole golf scramble to a local charity. Due to the generous support of the event sponsors and strong participation from local St. Louis information security professionals, the St. Louis Chapter of ISSA was able to raise $500, which was donated to the Make-A-Wish Missouri Chapter.

According to Flick the success of this year’s 18-hole golf scramble solidifies that it will be an annual event for the ISSA St. Louis Chapter. “This was a really outstanding tournament,” said Flick. “The feedback was very positive. I had a great time, everyone on my team did.”

The St. Louis Chapter

The Information Systems Security Association (ISSA) is a not-for-profit, international organization of information security professionals and practitioners. In fact, the St. Louis chapter is the oldest continually operating chapter in the United States. According to the group’s official website, the St. Louis club’s membership is composed of a diverse group of security and privacy professionals in various disciplines who work at leading organizations around Metro St. Louis and surrounding areas. This includes security professionals from industries such as healthcare, finance, retail and technical services.

ISSA chapters demonstrate a solid commitment to the IT security profession by hosting regular meetings that feature top of the line speakers from the public and private sector. Members have the ability to learn from association sponsored educational forums, ISSA publications. One of the greatest benefits is the opportunity to network with other IT security professionals at the monthly gatherings.

Organizations looking to raise money for themselves or charity should consider an event similar to the First Annual ISSA St. Louis Chapter Golf Scramble. The ISSA St. Louis Chapter has shown that it can increase the value of its luncheons and meetings through a strong sponsorship program and partnerships with companies such as InfoSec Institute.

Slow Down and Plan

However, before your group runs out and makes the event announcement, there are a few things to consider. Golf tournaments are becoming popular charity events, but the fact is they take a great deal of volunteer time, sponsor money and all around effort to succeed. Any person who has been involved in a fundraising event can attest to the fact that it takes a great deal of organization to achieve the established fundraising goals. While a charity golf tournament may look like a lot of fun (and it can be) it actually takes a small army of volunteers to make sure that there is smooth sailing and the event makes more than it spends.

Even though a fundraising golf tournament is not as quick and easy as it may seem, it can produce a large amount of money and give your members an opportunity to socialize and enjoy themselves. Especially with sponsorship relationships like the one established between the ISSA St. Louis Chapter and InfoSec Institute.

Just keep in mind that it will require a lot of work and preparation. One of the best ways to ensure that it’s a success is to recruit volunteers who have strong organization and fund-raising skills. One of the best things the officers of the ISSA St. Louis Chapter did was to put together a small committee who reached out to potential sponsors in a timely manner. It’s just common sense — getting corporate sponsorships, like the InfoSec Institute sponsorship of the ISSA St. Louis Golf Scramble, could make the difference between meeting your goals and barely covering your expenses.

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