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Special Event Fundraising Makes Giving Back More Engaging, Fun

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  • Written By: Len Gutman
Special Event Fundraising Makes Giving Back More Engaging, Fun

With more than 20,000 nonprofit organizations across Arizona, it can be difficult for charities to break through the noise to attract donors to their cause. Similarly, for donors, it may be easy to donate online or send a check to your favorite nonprofit. Still, research suggests the more direct engagement one has with an organization, the more apt they are to donate. It is unsurprising then that event-based fundraising provides value to donors and nonprofits.

That said, most people have participated in their share of walks, runs, and golf tournaments over the years, and nowadays, these types of events are falling out of fashion. Progressive nonprofits have had to think outside the box to encourage donors to participate in fundraising events. For example, the American Lung Association hosts “Stair Climbing for Healthy Lungs” events across the country, inviting donors to climb stairs at local sports stadiums, while hundreds of nonprofits around the country invite donors to go “over the edge” for charity, rappelling down the face of area skyscrapers. These events are especially appealing to younger donors who likely did not attend galas and luncheons.

As a nonprofit leader, it is my job to find new ways to encourage community members to participate in the critical work of the nonprofit sector. At Jewish Family & Children’s Services, a nonprofit, non-sectarian organization that provides behavioral health, healthcare and social services to people of all ages, faiths and backgrounds, this year, we are hosting something very different to spark interest in our work. On Sept. 28, 2023, we’re holding our inaugural Puttin’ for a Purpose challenge. We have promoted the event as “not your father’s old golf tournament.”

To begin, the event is indoors at Putting World in Scottsdale, a new climate-controlled facility with high-end food and drinks and a challenging 18-hole putting course. Even if you have never held a golf putter in your life, you can participate in the event and have a good time. The event consists of three rounds: the first round rewards the lowest overall score over 18 holes; the second round winner’s prize goes to whichever putter makes the most holes-in-one over 18 holes; and the third round sees all participants getting one swing to sink a 50-foot hole-in-one for a great prize. We even have a lower-priced ticket tier for people who would prefer just to come out and enjoy the food and adult beverages without putting.

The JFCS philanthropy team created the event from the ground up, and if it is successful, we hope it will become an annual tradition. Raising funds is one goal of the event, but perhaps even more critical for the team is to engage new community members to share more about the organization’s important mission. JFCS has been working in the valley for nearly 90 years, but it is not as known as the many larger national nonprofit organizations with local chapters in town. We do not have the resources to advertise on television or solicit donations via direct mail, so we rely on word of mouth and events to spread the word about what we do in the community.

The economic climate over the past few years has taught us that we have to do more with fewer resources. That is why supporting organizations and causes you are passionate about is so important.

Nonprofit organizations are vital for the community as they also provide a means for drawing public attention to societal issues – in the case of JFCS, it is mental health, domestic violence, foster teen services, senior programs, and more. There are many reasons to support your local nonprofits; whatever the reason, do it. Get involved, donate, participate in an event and be an active part of building stronger communities.

You can learn more about Puttin’ for a Purpose and register online at

Len Gutman is vice president of philanthropic services for Jewish Family & Children’s Service.