Should you get dirty with a carwash, have grandma make an apple pie for a bake sale, or maybe host a hoity toity golf tournament to raise money for your favorite charity or for your own organization? We’ll explain why a cornhole tournament is the most awesome way to fundraise and how to run a righteous cornhole tournament. This article provides 10 steps on hosting a bonafide fundraising tournament, but many of the steps can be simplified for a smaller tournament.
To run a fundraising cornhole tournament you’ll need to consider a few things like the location, cornhole equipment, food and sponsors, tournament fees and rules, promotion, and managing the tournament.
Why a Cornhole Tournament is Really Awesome
Organizing a fundraising event can be costly and difficult. Not with cornhole – hot damn! Organizing a cornhole fundraising tournament is so much easier than those expensive and complicated golf tournaments, and it beats peddling snickers bars in the parking lot of Kmart.
First of all, cornhole is so doggone popular everyone will want to play. It should be easy to promote and attract fanatical cornhole players – and you will. Another great thing about cornhole is that anyone can play including young whippersnappers and old fogeys alike. A cornhole tournament is not expensive to conduct because the equipment and venue can be easy to obtain providing you with a better return on the funds you raise. The tournament can also be played indoors or outdoors providing more venue options and making it more flexible to weather changes.
10 Righteous Steps to Running a Cornhole Tournament
1. Planning your Cornhole Tournament
First things first – before you begin to coordinate your cornhole tournament it’s important to do a little stinkin’ planning. Decide on whether you want to organize a small, simple cornhole tournament for fun, raise a modest amount of money, or put on a larger, elaborate tournament and go for the gold. Of course, you need to determine if you have the ability and resources to plan a large event.
Tournament Elements to Consider:
Food and Drinks – Providing food and drinks can make the tournament feel like more of an event and the food and drink sales can be another lucrative way of raising money for your organization. If you plan to cook and sell the food yourself, many business like Costco and Wal-Mart are very willing to donate food and drinks to worthy causes. If you are able to secure these donations, then most to all the food sales would be profit.
The other option is to recruit a food vendor and charge them a fee to sell food at your event. This may be an easier approach since you will eliminate the chore of providing the food yourself, but you will probably not make as much money on the food sales.
Entertainment – For a happy and fun atmosphere, have some awesome music playing in the background. You can play music from your boom box or hire your cousin who’s a wannabe DJ.
To make the event family friendly, you may consider activities for the kiddos. What kid doesn’t love bouncing ‘till they drop in a jumping castle? You can also have a face painting booth, balloon animals, or other creative carnival games. Remember, parents spend money on their little bundles of joy.
Corporate Sponsors – If you’re all about raising a lot of money for your favorite charity or organization then company sponsors is where it’s at. Most companies with any kind of marketing or advertising program are familiar with event marketing. You can sell booth space where businesses can come and promote or sell their wares. They should be responsible for providing their own Easy-Up’s and tables.
Companies can also sponsor a hole. When sponsoring a hole a business branded sign can be placed at a cornhole playing field displaying that the hole is sponsored by the company. You may even sell a package deal for both a hole and a booth sponsorship. Brilliant!
When brain storming possible sponsors to approach, think about companies that have an affinity for your charity or organization – they may be more likely to agree to donate money to your cause. Also, think about organizations that would benefit most from the cornhole audience that will be attending your event. Obviously, cornhole related companies would be ideal but how about companies associated with BBQing, tailgating, camping, RV’s, motor cross, etc. The point is that it’s important to approach companies that have an incentive to market to your audience because that audience may buy from them now or in the future.
Raffles – Another good way to raise money is through selling raffle tickets for prizes. Technology gadgets are always popular prize items. Just make sure you can sell more tickets than it cost to purchase the prizes. Another easy raffle idea is the 50/50 raffle, where the winner of the raffle and the charity split the proceeds of the raffle evenly.
2. Cornhole Equipment
Once you know exactly the type of tournament you plan to have you’ll need to consider how you’ll drum up cornhole boards for the tournament because without boards, there is no righteous tournament.
Players Bring Boards – Many of the cornhole players signed up for the tournament will surely have cornhole boards, so one option is to ask those players to bring their own boards. But let’s admit that may come across a bit chintzy.
Cornhole League or Builder – Another option would be to contact a local cornhole league or cornhole builder and asking them to sponsor the tournament by providing the boards in exchange for marketing and promotion at the tournament. These organizations are always looking for easy and affordable marketing opportunities and this can be a good opportunity for them to get in front of a lot of cornhole enthusiasts without any real out-of-pocket expense. When you approach these organizations be sure to sell the benefits of their sponsorship by sharing that they will have marketing and branding opportunity in front of a large group of people who love cornhole.
Rent or Purchase – Otherwise, you may be able to rent the equipment from a cornhole shop or ask a cornhole shop to give you a discount on a large bulk cornhole boards purchase.
3. When and Where
The next step is to decide when and where to host the tournament. The “when” should obviously be based on your particular needs and schedule. The “where” should be based on the size and type of cornhole tournament and the expected weather on the date of the tourney.
The great thing about cornhole is that in can be played anywhere. For a fun and festive atmosphere, hold your cornhole tournament outdoors. You will just need to make sure that you have the proper approval and city permits, if needed, for your outdoor tournament.
Parks – Many outdoor tournaments are held at parks or open fields.
Beaches – The beach can also be a fun tourney location.
Parking Lots – Tournaments can also be held in parking lots. Since a cornhole tournament would attract plenty of players and spectators, many businesses may welcome a tournament in their parking lot as a way to draw attention to their local business.
If the tournament is occurring during the winter months or the weather doesn’t allow for an outdoor tournament, no prob, just have it indoors.
Gyms – Many indoor tournaments are held in local school or community gyms.
Halls or Convention Centers – Host your tournament in a large hall or convention center.
Bars or Restaurants – Many bars or restaurants may also agree to holding tournaments in their establishments because it means that they will profit from the food and drink sales of the tournament.
4. Cost of Entry and Winning Prize
An average entry fee would be approximately $20 - $50 per team (half of that for individuals). Just make sure the fees you collect are enough to payout the winning prizes and enough left over for your charity. Usually entry fees are split 50/50 by the organization and the winning prizes.
You’ll need to decide if you want to payout a prize to the Top 3, Top 2, or a Winner Takes All.
Top 3 – Payout may be a split 60%-30%-10% of half the entry fees
Top2 – Payout may be a split 80%-20%, or 70%-30%, or 60%-40% of half the entry fees
Winner Takes All – The winner is super stoked
5. Tournament Type and Rules
Before you begin to promote your tournament and sell tickets make sure you have established the rules for the game so that you can print them on fliers or any marketing materials and eliminate any player’s confusion. The cornhole tournament should be played based on ACA Official Game Rules. Deciding on what type of cornhole tournament to hold should be based on the number of players and time allotted for the event. Tournament types:
Single Elimination – Teams are matched-up in a bracket format and any team to lose a game is eliminated. The winning teams continue playing until a winner is crowned. You may have trouble attracting teams for this type of tournament because of the chance of losing one game and being done! However, you can make the single elimination a best 2 out of 3 format. The first team to win 2 out of 3 against their opponent wins the game, and this at least guarantees that every team will play two games.
Double Elimination – Teams are matched-up in a bracket format and any team that loses two games is eliminated. The winning teams continue to play until a winner is crowned. There are many creative ways to organize double elimination games. Here’s the most typical example:
Example: If you have twelve teams, have the teams play each other in the first round – Team 1 vs. Team 2, Team 3 vs. Team 4, and so on. The winners go to the winner’s column and the loser to the loser’s column. At the end of the first round you will have six winners and six losers. In the second round, reward the winning teams by matching-up the winning teams against the losing teams – Winning Team 1 vs. Losing Team 1, Winning Team 2 vs. Losing Team 2, and so on. Continue to play and eliminate teams with two losses. In the event that you have an odd number of teams playing, reward the team with highest winning point margin with a bye.
Round Robin – A round robin tournament is when all teams play each other once and the team with the most wins ultimately wins the tournament. So, if you have 12 teams each team will play 11 games. This may be the longest type of tournament.
Playoffs – A playoffs tournament is when the games are combined with a round robin and a single elimination tournament at the end. Teams play a round robin at first to obtain a “seeding” based on winning percentage. When the round robin format is over, an even number of teams are chosen to enter the playoffs round – the top 6 teams, 8 teams, 12 teams, etc. If the number of winning teams from the first round would not result in an even number of teams playing in the second round, then some teams will have to be given a bye in the first round. The playoffs are a single elimination round and the games are played until a winner is crowned.
Example: If you have 14 teams, the team with most wins in the round robin is the #1 seed, second most wins is the #2 seed, etc. The top 8 teams make the playoffs – #1 vs. #8, #2 vs. #7, #3 vs. #6, etc.
We feel this is the best type of tournament and the best way to determine the true championship team.
Try to make it as easy as possible for people to register for your cornhole tournament. Provide multiple ways for people to register and pay.
By Phone, Mail, or Email – Create a registration form that can be filled out over the phone, mailed in, or emailed and returned with a check for payment.
Online – Make it possible for people to register online, which can easily be done through Paypal or EventBrite. Paypal and EventBrite allow you to accept payments online for a small fee. This convenient payment method for the player and your reduced hassle of collecting checks may be well worth the minor cost.
At The Tournament – You may also allow players to sign-up on the day of the event for those procrastinators.
7. Promote Your Tournament
The success of your tournament will be based on how well you market and how many players and people attend the event. When promoting the event, make sure to communicate the type of cornhole tournament and winning prizes. Read “50 Ideas to Promote Your Fundraising Event”, for more ideas on how to market your fundraiser.
Social Media – Create a Facebook and Twitter account around your event or spread the word through your company and personal social media channels. Create a Facebook event and invite everyone you know.
Online – Promote the tournament on you company website or blog. If you don’t have a blog, one can easily be created for free on Tumblr.
Pound the Pavement – Fliers may be a bit old school but they can still work. Create some fliers and post them at local businesses, community centers, apartment complexes, or anywhere people gather. Make sure to communicate clear instructions on how to register.
Word of Mouth – Get the word out. Tell everyone you know. Email everyone. Tell your friends and family and ask them to pass it along. Ask everyone in your organization to recruit two teams.
Sponsors – Ask your sponsors to help you promote your event. You should also recruit your sponsors to play in the tournament. You may even include the tournament play as part of the sponsorship package.
Press Release – Write a press release and publish it online and/or distribute it to the local media. Read “If You Write a Great Press Release, Media Coverage Will Come“, to learn more about how to write and distribute a press release.
Paid Advertising – You can pay for Facebook ads that target people in your local area or use more traditional forms of paid advertising like local newspapers and radio.
8. Tournament Set-Up
The big day has arrived and there’s a lot to do like setting up the sponsor booth spaces, food stand, registration table, cornhole playing fields, etc. Make sure you get started early and be set-up on time!
Have Plenty of Boards – Make sure you have enough boards for the tournament and extra cornhole bags in case one rips or breaks from an enthusiastic toss. You will also need a scoring method for each playing field.
Set-Up Playing Fields – Try to have the cornhole playing fields set-up an hour before the tournament begins to allow the players to warm up.
Brackets – Based on pre-registration, you should have a good idea on how many teams will be playing. If you estimate that 15-20 teams will be playing, print out the appropriate brackets and have them ready. – find cornhole brackets here
Form Teams – Many players will have already signed up as teams, so there will be no need to form those teams. If you accepted individual players it will be important that you accept an even number of them to be able to form teams. Those teams can simply be formed by drawing names from a hat.
9. Start the Tournament
A clear plan of tournament operation will ensure that your event runs smoothly. Here are some important steps to perform when beginning and operating a cornhole tournament.
Explain The Rules – Before the games begin, gather all the players and explain the rules so that there is no confusion. You may want to provide each team with a copy of the game rules as well. The games should be played based on ACA Official Game Rules. – Printable Game Rules
Seeding – For the first round of play, simply pick teams from a hat and place them on the corresponding bracket line until all teams have been matched up. If playing a double elimination game or combination game, the subsequent seeding should be based on winning percentage.
Referee – Make sure to assign a decisive referee that can “make the call” on game conflicts. Make it clear that any disputes will be settled by the referee’s ruling.
Coin Toss – Start each game with a coin toss. The winner of the toss can choose whether they would like to toss first and which side of the board they would like to toss from. In order to be more accommodating, allow the players to toss from any side they would like.
Keep The Games Going – Games and tournaments can go long so keep the games going at all times. Always have games being played on any open cornhole fields if possible and periodically announce the team standings.
Championship Game – If the tournament has a championship game, make it a big deal. Remove all the other playing fields and have one glorified championship field remain. Play the “Rocky” movie soundtrack as you announce the final teams. Yell out the Michael Buffer “Let’s get ready to rumble!” slogan.
Play Until There’s a Winner – Have fun, congratulate the winners and losers and play until there’s a champion.
10. Crown the Winner
The end of the tournament is the perfect opportunity to celebrate a successful tournament, congratulate all the teams, and thank everyone for their attendance and support.
Award The Prizes – Announce the winning teams and award them their prize money.
Announce The Champion – Leave the best for last. Announce the Championship team and award them their prize money.
Raffle Giveaway – If you had a raffle, pick the raffle winners and award the raffle prizes.
Say Thanks – Take the opportunity to congratulate the players and thank everyone for their support for a successful tournament and helping you raise money for a worthy cause.
It’s important to mention that it is a big task and you will need to delegate many of the responsibilities of planning, organizing, and operating a successful cornhole tournament. Below is a list of all the links and attachments such as cornhole brackets, printable tournament rules, tournament formats, etc. that are included in this article.
Good luck on hosting a righteous cornhole tournament!