by Corey Stansifer
Running a charity kayak fishing tournament can be a daunting endeavor. From choosing a location to lining up sponsors and determining payouts, hosting a charity tournament can seem a bit overwhelming. In the end, stay true to the focus…the charity! Everything else will work its way out in the end. Here are five strategies I lean on when organizing a charity kayak fishing tournament.
The first step in the process is preparation. As with anything, you cannot be too prepared. Start by identifying the charity you hope to promote. This could be as small as one individual or as large as an entire community. Let your anglers know who or what they will be helping. Fundraising efforts increase as participation increases. Participation increases when anglers understand what the common goal is.
Other preparation topics include choosing a location for the tournament. Do you plan to host a live tournament or online tournament? You will want to factor in your audience to help you make this decision. Again, will you get more participation by choosing one method over the other? Is it possible to do both at the same time for maximum participation?
The next strategy in helping maximize the fundraising efforts is incentive. You want to create incentive for the anglers to fish your event. As all of us know, there are multiple kayak fishing tournaments just about every weekend of the year. Normal kayak tournaments usually pay out 100% of the entry fees. It becomes difficult to compete with these, especially when the goal is to use the entry fees for charity.
What makes your event special? What can you do to stand out against the other tournaments? My simple answer is “be different”. I’ve been known to come up with some crazy ideas for kayak fishing tournaments. You know what? The craziest ideas have created the most interest and, in turn, the most participation. From freshwater slams (catfish, bass, panfish), hourly big bass events, poker style tournaments (each ¼ inch measurement is awarded a playing card) and even offering a $20,000 bounty for catching the state record, coming up with unique ideas for charity is what makes hosting these events fun!
One way to help raise incentive is by acquiring tournament sponsors. Paying out the anglers in prizes helps capitalize on using more of the entry fees for charity. Identify potential sponsors early in the process. Depending on the company, some sponsors set their donation budgets almost a year in advance. If you’re looking to land a larger sponsor for your tournament, plan ahead and contact those companies first. Create a letter that identifies the charity you are promoting. Be sure to outline what the potential sponsor receives in return. Some companies do not want anything in return. Others request logos be placed on tournament fliers, shirts, and other promotional items. It is the tournament director’s responsibility to promote the sponsors before, during, and after the tournament. Be sure your anglers know which sponsors are participating. And most important, thank your sponsors once the tournament is over. Create tournament standings and reports using their logos. Your promotion of their brand will be paramount in securing their sponsorship should you look to them in the future.
The fourth, and possibly the most important, strategy is transparency. Contact the person or group for which you are interested in raising money. If you are raising money for an established charity, they may have paperwork to fill out to advertise that you are raising money for that group. Be up front with your anglers on where their entry fees will be applied. Also, be transparent with them and how the tournament payout will be calculated. Nothing is more frustrating than fishing a charity tournament and not knowing where are to whom the money is going. At the conclusion of the tournament, show confirmation of money being donated or post a picture of a check exchanging hands. A picture with the recipient is also a great place to include sponsor logos, which solidifies the sponsors’ return on investment in your tournament.
Lastly, be patient and remember the focus of the tournament. You will likely have new anglers fishing your event. Go out of your way to answer questions on registration, tournament rules, submission guidelines, and other pertinent details. Realize that you will have to repeat yourself multiple times to multiple people. Understand the reason for this…your event has created incentive for these new anglers to fish your event! Increased participation means more raised for your charity. Again, keep focus of the end goal.
Hosting a charity kayak fishing tournament can be a very rewarding experience. Not only are you creating a fun experience for the anglers, you are doing so by helping a worthy cause.