Second Swing Hits Big!

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How the Kelowna Golf Fundraiser Grew Tenfold in Two Years

Success is something that usually takes time to build, but that wasn’t necessarily the case for the Kelowna Golf Fundraiser headed by James Cookson, district manager of City Electric Supply (CES) Kelowna.

The inaugural year of the Kelowna Golf Fundraiser benefitting the Make-A-Wish® Foundation brought in a little under $1,000. In only their second year of hosting the event, Cookson and his district raised over $10,000 — a tenfold increase, begging the question, “How did they do it?”

Learning from the past

Reflecting on the tournament’s progress, Cookson and his team thought back to what they learned from their first year.

“We had around 110 people attend our first year. It takes a bit to grow, and we learned a lot about collecting, getting everyone together, and assigning tasks. I’d say it was challenging, but it was also fun,” Cookson said with a laugh.

This year’s biggest challenge, Cookson explained, was mastering organization. “There are so many moving parts in an event like this! The first time, you don’t really know what you’re forgetting; then you have it, but you’re learning how to organize it.”

The hard work paid off; Cookson and his team were able to raise $10,246 for Make-A-Wish®! They also created substantial demand for their event — not only maxing out sponsorships, but establishing a wait list for interested vendors.

A day on the green

After great anticipation and determination, the tournament finally arrived with great success. Participants had a great time hanging out, improving golf swings, and enjoying a beverage or two.

“It’s a great place to connect with people and enjoy the day. Everyone’s having a fun time and it makes all the hard work and organizing well worth it.”

Prizes awarded to the event’s winners included items from Milwaukee Tool, Klein Tools, golf bags, and golf balls. A local brewery set up kegs on one of the holes, and Cookson noted that an additional $1,500 in cash was raised on the day of the tournament.

While much fun was had, Cookson’s greatest takeaway of the event was the ability to give back to the community through the Make-A-Wish® Foundation.

Granting a wish

Coming into the second annual Kelowna Golf Fundraiser, Cookson was determined to achieve a masterstroke. 

“It takes about $10,000 to grant a wish, so that was our goal. We challenged ourselves to grant a wish with one tournament. We all love the charity, so it was a great goal for us.”

Make-A-Wish® was so impressed with what Cookson and his district did that they invited the team to witness a local child in Kelowna get their wish granted. For Cookson, the opportunity to help a family in need was more than enough; the fact that it was within his own community was just a bonus.

“Make-A-Wish® sent a girl and her sister, along with other families in similar tough situations, to Disneyland for a week. It was a big event; we brought them a bunch of toys, and they even had their own plane and hotel. The kids were so excited to go. It was nice to see firsthand the impact our fundraiser can have on people like these.”

Building connections

“This event isn’t just a fundraiser; it’s also a chance to involve our partners and friends within the industry,” Cookson said.

One hundred electrical companies attended the tournament. Given the slower pace of the sport, it created an opportunity for vendors to spend extended time with electrical contractors.

“Our incredible success is a testament to the branches and the relationships they’ve built,” said Cookson.

Looking toward the future

Cookson is proud of the success achieved with the second Kelowna Golf Fundraiser, but he doesn’t plan on stopping there; he aims to drive this tournament into something even bigger.

“We’ve thought about different ways to grow it and we’re excited to see what we can do next. Just like with our business, we’re always looking to improve.”

In advice to other branches and districts considering a fundraiser or similar outreach activity, he emphasizes the relationships that make it all happen. Cookson expressed his gratitude to all who were involved in the Kelowna Golf Tournament.

“Thank you for the support. Our customers and vendors understand it’s for a great cause and they want to be there. We really enjoy it, and we look forward to watching it continue to grow.”

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