It's important to put yourself in the shoes of your attendees and really consider the driving factors that influence them to show up at your event. Often the associated people top the list of reasons why an event was worth visiting, so naming an event in honor of someone is a surefire way to attract a target audience, whether close friends and family of the honoree or simply guests who relate to the traits that person exhibited.

Such is the case with the 22nd Annual Heinie and Dan Ridler Memorial Golf Tournament, a yearly event that has raised almost $214,000 for Rice Hospice (Willmar, MN) and celebrates the lives of two married cancer patients who shared a passionate love for the game of golf. “Heinie and Dan were avid golfers and well-known in the community of Willmar,” says Director Mary Beth Potter. “Heinie worked at the golf course and Dan was a businessman in the community, and because they were so well-known and loved, community members wanted to do something to honor their memory while at the same time benefitting a local nonprofit organization.”

Potter offers her advice for planning successful honorary events.

  1. Choose well-known honorees to maximize reach. “The fact that Heinie and Dan were so well-known in the community and also the fact that their children are well-known and engaged in the community makes a big impact,” Potter says.
  2. Involve family in event committees. “Maybe it is because we are a smaller community, but we have always had close contact with the family,” Potter says. “One of the Ridler daughters is a member of our Rice Hospice Community Advisory Committee, and we discuss the fundraising event at these meetings.” Taking steps to keep the family close to fundraising efforts helps apply a “face” to the event.
  3. Share your honoree's story across multiple platforms. “We share the story of Heinie, and now Dan, in the brochure we create and send out each year,” Potter says. “Telling your honoree's story and why the nonprofit was important to that person goes a very long way in creating a successful event.” Rice Hospice also shares these details via its website and a Facebook event page, which is managed by the Ridler family.
  4. Have your marketing team work with family members. “We have a core group of staff from our hospice and the hospital marketing department that meets several times throughout the year with some of the Ridler children to plan the event,” Potter says.
  5. Use funds raised to support relevant departments and services.“The monies raised have gone toward direct patient care items and bereavement services,” Potter says. “The Ridler family especially appreciates when we designate the money to be used for something specific, such as one of our complementary therapy programs.”

Source: Mary Beth Potter, RN, BAN, CHPN, CHPCA, Director, Rice Hospice, Willmar, MN. Phone (320) 235-4543. E-mail: Website: