In April, Stone Creek Club & Spa in Covington, Louisiana, celebrated 10 years of partnership with the Rich Mauti Cancer Fund. Over the past decade, the two organizations have joined together for the well-known Rich Mauti Tennis Classic, the charity organization’s largest annual fundraiser hosted at Stone Creek’s facility.
To celebrate this partnership, Stone Creek recently dedicated a tennis court to the Mauti family and the committee of the Rich Mauti Cancer Fund — a 100 percent volunteer, non-profit organization dedicated to providing funding in the local community for cancer screenings, education and support to cancer patients.
Over the past years, the Rich Mauti Tennis Classic has raised $640,000. In addition, the event was awarded the title of “Louisiana Charity Tennis Tournament of the Year” by the Louisiana Tennis Association in 2009, and received the “Louisiana Tennis Tournament of the Year Award” in 2011.
Here, Stephanie Coulon, the member services and marketing manager at Stone Creek Club & Spa, shared what has contributed to the event being so successful, in addition to best practices for fundraisers.
CS: This event has been awarded “Louisiana Charity Tennis Tournament of the Year,” among other accolades. What do you think has contributed to the event being so successful?
SC: I think there are a couple of important factors that have made this tournament so successful. First and foremost, it’s the passion and hard work of the tournament committee. Each year they strive to make the event fun and memorable for players and spectators. Their goal is that the players feel like they got a tremendous value for their money, but they never lose sight of their fundraising goals. People have commented that the event feels like a four-day festival with some great tennis thrown in. All of the food and fun surrounding the tennis keeps people at the event longer — it builds the feeling of camaraderie and community. Their authentic passion is certainly contagious — they’re a wonderful group to work with, and our team at Stone Creek truly enjoys partnering with them each year. It truly has become a team effort.
Secondly, players and sponsors alike know 100 percent of the proceeds from the event stay local. Our staff, the players and sponsors know this event has a real and direct impact for people in our own community, so it feels very personal — it’s like neighbors helping neighbors or friends helping friends.
We have all been affected by cancer in one way or another — we’ve all seen or experienced first-hand the impact it can have on an individual and on the family and friends of a cancer patient. Over the years we’ve personally met many of the people who have benefitted from the funds raised by this tournament, and that always reignites the passion to continue this much-needed work.
CS: Why is it important for clubs to invest in their communities?
SC: We’ve found that people feel a much deeper connection to Stone Creek because of our community efforts. It’s an important differentiation for us. Competition is tough, and we all know people can pursue their fitness and wellness goals in a million different ways. But when the club starts to feel like more than just a “gym” or “fitness center” — when staff and members feel like a part of something bigger than themselves, it creates an entirely different culture and a sense of community.
We are involved in the community because it’s the right thing to do. Since the beginning, we’ve built Stone Creek on the foundation that if you do things for the right reasons, people will notice. Members have told us how much they appreciate our dedication to our community and our charitable efforts. We’ve found people want to align with businesses or brands that have a heart.
CS: What tips would you share with other club operators for hosting successful fundraisers?
SC: First, do it for the right reasons. Choose a cause that has meaning for you and your members. Fundraisers are a lot of work, but when your team is excited and passionate about the cause, that energy shines through to your members and to the community.
Is there an existing charity or event in your community that could benefit from your club’s help? What causes are your members involved with? Partnering with an existing group that already has some awareness and momentum can make your team’s job a lot easier and can take their fundraising to the next level!
Differentiate and make it authentic. Think about how your event can be unique and memorable, and then allow plenty of time to plan and to communicate your message to your members and the community. Follow up by showing the impact of the event — celebrate how much was raised and/or how it helped the community. Make it personal.
Rachel Zabonick is editor-in-chief of Club Solutions Magazine. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.