Fundraising through Golf
Sprawling central Africa’s Nile Basin, Uganda is cradled by the torn lands of Kenya, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Rwanda. Drenched in the equatorial sun, the sweeping terrain is almost transcendent—a stark contrast to the hardships that afflict its people: a tumultuous political climate; dismal economic conditions; and an unyielding AIDS epidemic, not to mention the relentless challenges of everyday survival. Statistically, it is one of the poorest countries in the world, a reality that disproportionately impacts the 84% of its population living in rural communities. These complex and largely systemic conditions leave the country’s children abandoned in devastating numbers. As many as 1.5 million children in Uganda are homeless—a tragic 5% of its population. Hope Center Uganda’s commitment is to those children.
Formed in 2011, Hope Center Uganda is a global 501(c)3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to rescue the abandoned, abused, and orphaned children of Uganda. With a staff of fewer than 20 and a small network of volunteers, the organization is typically serving between 25 and 30 orphaned children at any given time.
“The majority of the children brought to us are babies, just weeks or months old,” explains Hope Center Uganda’s President Barbie Wells. “These children are left in toilets, puddles of water, bushes, garbage piles. Many come to us starved, abused, and emaciated.” The goal is to provide care, before eventually resettling the children in families with the means and capacity to care for them. In the interim, Hope Center Uganda provides crucial necessities, including housing, utilities, food, clean water, diapers, and school supplies.
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Approximately half of the organization’s monthly operational budget of around $5,000 is funded by recurring gifts from donors all over the world. The remaining balance is left to ongoing fundraising efforts. “Honestly, we’re only ever about one month ahead,” says Barbie. “It’s scary, but somehow, by the grace of God, we make the number every single month. Somebody steps up. It’s like living paycheck to paycheck.”
Despite the challenges, Barbie and her staff remain committed to serving the cause, leveraging their networks and resources and eagerly jumping on new fundraising opportunities. “Last year, one of our donors, an avid golfer, came to us and suggested a golf event,” explains Barbie, who quickly organized her staff to rally the effort.
“It went well,” she says, admitting that the task of putting together a first-time golf fundraiser was a mountain of work for the completely volunteer taskforce. “We did everything manually, tracking information in a spreadsheet, and getting everything set up. It was weeks of work, and we had never done it before, so collecting and organizing everything and then actually promoting the event were especially challenging.”
This year’s tournament will run quite differently thanks to a little help from GolfStatus, which provides its golf event management platform to organizations like Hope Center Uganda at no cost. Features like seamless online promotion and registration, integrated payment processing, simple team management and hole assignments, and the ability to instantly print tee sheets, cart signs, and other materials save weeks of time and resources for the organization and the golf facility. “Using GolfStatus has allowed us to take a big deep breath,” says Barbie, who, instead of focusing on logistical tasks, has been able to channel the organization’s limited time and resources into engaging and stewarding donors.
The software also positions the event to raise additional dollars and engage more donors in the cause through a number of previously untapped touchpoints. Barbie and her team are able to sell sponsorship exposure through various channels, including live mobile and clubhouse leaderboard sponsorships, in-app digital hole sponsorships, and automated custom rewards that allow sponsors to engage golfers on the course during the event and prompt additional donations online and in the app. They've also taken advantage of GolfStatus's custom pin flags, branding each with the Hope Center Uganda logo; two of the flags will be given away to Gold-level sponsors as a keepsake. Promotion is also easy, thanks to the event’s custom website, where players and corporate partners can quickly and easily register and purchase sponsorships.
It all rolls up into a better fundraiser that’s easier to manage, and serious about serving its cause and its donors. “Last year, people could tell we scrambled to put the event together,” Barbie admits. “With the GolfStatus platform, we’re able to provide a more polished and engaging event that casts our organization in a more legitimate and professional light.”
Driving More of What Matters
For the team at Hope Center Uganda, it’s about being open to new fundraising avenues and technologies capable of raising more of the mission-critical funds this organization needs to continue serving the children whose lives it so profoundly impacts. “It’s challenging,” says Barbie. “But these children need us, and with the right tools, resources, and support, we can not only sustain—we can do even more.”
Learn more about Hope Center Uganda and its mission at
This article first appeared in the spring 2019 edition of GolfStatus magazine.