19 Feb

Members Helping Neighbors

Creative Ways To Give Back to Your Community

From the outside, private clubs embody thoughtfully designed buildings with lush landscape, handsome architectural elements, and a welcoming façade—but the foundation on which they stand is and always will be the people behind their front door. Brick and mortar may physically be holding a private club together—but fundamentally, it’s the members. And their experiences and actions within those walls are the legacies that each club leaves behind.

Take a moment and reflect on what you’re most thankful for. What comes to mind first? We’re willing to bet people, experiences, and memories register before any material item. The best part about that? Private clubs have the unique opportunity to forge relationships between members by creating authentic experiences that can subsequently turn into unforgettable memories, just like the ones that mean so much to you. But members aren’t the only people that private clubs can reach—the decisions made within the club also have the opportunity to impact others in the community.

Below, we’ve compiled a list of ways your club can give back—from raising money to lending a hand—ensuring your club leaves behind a legacy of which every generation can be proud.

Where To Begin

What’s far more valuable than any material item? Time. And by giving yours to your community, not only will your neighbors benefit, but your members, too. There’s a reason why ‘paying it forward’ stimulates a ripple effect when implemented—it feels good to do good.

There are two key elements needed when hosting any kind of charity event: a space to host the event and volunteers to help it run smoothly. Fortunately, private clubs have an abundance of both. One of the best ways to start implementing effective fundraisers is to gather a group of members together who are dedicated to giving back. As a club leader, we know your priorities often focus on the betterment of the club and your members first and foremost—so having a specific committee to assist in this arena can increase your club’s efforts dramatically.

In a past article for our Meet the Manager series, we spoke with Traci Bichalski, CCM, CCE who at the time was General Manager for Great Oaks Country Club.  During our conversation, she touched on the many ways Great Oaks gives back. “We have created a program called ‘Great Oaks Gives’ which involves a committee of people who work on charitable efforts. Because of this committee, we have fed the homeless, raised funds for the Yellow Ribbon Fund, held various blood drives and hosted food drives for Gleaners Food Bank,” Bichalski noted.

She continued by highlighting one event in particular that they were especially humbled to host—a charity ball in an effort to raise funds for local charities in the community. “We are pleased to say that we had an exceptional turn out for this event and raised a large sum of money to help families in need of financial assistance following the loss of a loved one due to cancer,” recalled Bichalski. The options are endless when you have many hands involved. Start by talking with your members to determine where they’d be willing to help—chances are, they’ll be glad you asked.

Raising Money Creatively

Whether your efforts touch hundreds of people or one person, the outcome is all the same. We’re all well aware of the benefits of silent auctions, blood drives, and golf fundraisers—and for private clubs, that last option has stood the test of time. In fact, golf fundraisers bring in $3.9 billion annually for charities, and it’s a surefire way to host a successful fundraising event. The best part? You can get creative. Golf was once a serious, businessmen’s sport … but it’s 2019, and the game’s changing. So to get more people interested in this type of fundraiser—make it fun!

Around the holidays, consider a “Festive Course” event and encourage participants to come dressed up. Whether it’s costumes during Halloween or silly Christmas sweaters in December—there are tons of fun ways to celebrate different holidays on club grounds. Additionally, if teams are involved, have a golf cart decorating contest to ramp up creativity and comradery! “Beat the Pro” is another fun twist where players have the chance to bet on their chances of hitting a drive closer to the hole than the golf pro. Additionally, “speed golf” is an exciting way to get younger members involved. In this fast-paced event, golf carts aren’t needed. Players sprint from hole to hole and the final score is determined by both their game and time—so speed and accuracy are key. With sponsors, golf fundraisers can be as big—and creative—as you and your team can dream up.

The golf course is undoubtedly a top asset for golf or country clubs in more ways than one—but it doesn’t take a course to make a difference. Since 2016, top Chefs in the Pittsburgh area have come together to host a farm-to-table dinner benefiting the children at The Bradley Center. Among those volunteers included two clubs we’re proud to be associated with: Oxford Athletic Club and Duquesne Club. By taking a cue from this event, your own Chef can implement something similar by hosting a gourmet, full-course dinner in which proceeds go to an organization in your surrounding area.

Lending A Hand

Giving back doesn’t always have to be about raising money as there are immeasurable ways to impact the lives of others. Private club members are intelligent people with varying skills—this presents the opportunity for your club to give back through teaching or mentoring. For a certain period of time, organize a program where members have an opportunity to teach children in the community a new skill; whether it be a sport like golf or tennis, an activity geared towards the arts, or perhaps a broader, career-driven skill. If your staff would like to get involved, plan a ‘shadow day’ where kids can shadow your employees in various positions throughout the club. For most, the gift of time is worth its weight in gold.

Another idea? Take a cue from the international nonprofit, Dress for Success. Their mission is to equip women with necessary resources to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support and professional attire—helping them thrive in the workforce. Your female members are professional and well-dressed women. Host a Dress for Success event where they can bring in gently used items for working women in the community to try on and take home. Whether you use this organization as inspiration for your own event, or get involved with the nonprofit itself, we’re sure your female members would love to offer a hand (and a blouse). The same objective can be done via a fashion show event that models a new line from a local boutique, with proceeds—or even particular clothing items—going to a local charity.

Determining Your Club’s ‘Why’

Charity is defined by the voluntary giving of help—and the one thing that communities across the world have in common are people in need of a little help. Here at Chambers, we sponsor a family for the Christmas holiday every year. Why? Because what seems like a small act in terms of scale has the potential to move mountains for a family in need.

Acts of kindness can be found—and implemented—just about everywhere. And while many focus on these efforts during the holiday season, the rest of the year shouldn’t go neglected. Ask your members what impact they would like to make on their family, their friends, and their community … and what legacy they wish to leave behind for all three. Ask yourself these questions, too. More often than not, the responses will determine what your club is passionate about, and your charitable efforts can reflect these passions. The answers to these questions will help you navigate your clubs ‘why’.

For more ideas on how you can give back throughout the year, click here.

Comment below with one thing your club has done for its community and the impact it’s had on everyone involved.

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