Any large undertaking needs a blueprint for success, and the folks at Carmel Country Club in Charlotte, N.C., have put together a master plan for one they now plan to hold each year.
In August 2017 the property held a benefit concert, featuring country music artist Cole Swindell, on the Friday night during the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte.
This year the event—featuring Old Dominion, the Academy of Country Music’s 2018 Vocal Group of the Year, and Parmalee, a North Carolina country band—was moved to the first Friday night in May, during the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow.
“We chose the date to coincide with the Wells Fargo Championship. That’s where it will stay for the immediate future,” says General Manager John Schultz. “People are in town, and they’re in a partying, ‘staycation’ mode.”
The event raises funds for the Carmel Staff Scholarship Fund, started in 2013 to provide education scholarships to the club’s employees and their family members, and the Folds of Honor Foundation, which provides educational scholarships to children and spouses of American service members who have been killed or disabled while serving the nation.
While the event has been highly successful, feeding and entertaining 2,000 people is no easy task for a facility that still must run on a day-to-day basis.
As Schultz points out, however, timing is of the essence. “We have the concert when there is something going on in town, to create opportunities to invite business associates and clients,” he notes.
Schultz also enlists the aid of experts to put on the concert, which is held on Carmel’s driving range. “We have a lot of support from a member who runs one of the largest country music festivals in the country,” he explains.
Sponsorships—along with showing appreciation for sponsors’ efforts—are a vital component as well, and Schultz has found that reaching out to local businesses and corporations that can offer substantial financial support is another key to success.
VIP sponsorship levels for the Carmel concerts range from a $75,000 platinum package for up to 75 people, to $5,000 bronze packages for up to 15 guests. Customized sponsorship packages are also available for vendors.
The VIP area, located on a raised area overlooking the concert, offers special seating and dedicated cocktail service. Top-tier sponsors also have access to pre-concerts and meet-and-greet sessions with the performing artists. “That allows us to thank them and to elevate the event,” notes Schultz.
Carmel relies on in-kind donations and resources from vendors as well. In addition, by running the staff scholarship fund through 501(c)3 status, the property is eligible to receive alcohol donations for the fundraiser.
The fundraising element also helps to generate enthusiasm for the event. Through fundraising efforts including the two concerts to date, Carmel has raised more than $225,000 for the Staff Scholarship Fund and almost another $65,000 for Folds of Honor.
“We started the staff scholarship fund as a way to do more for our employees and staff, than just the normal employer-employee relationship,” says Carmel Board President Dave Mauney. “They do a wonderful job for us and make this place the special place that it is, so it was something that we could do to give back to them.”
Last year Maj. Dan Rooney, who founded Folds of Honor, spoke at the event, and this year Wesley Baugess, whose husband Larry was killed in Pakistan in 2007, spoke to the audience.
“The Folds of Honor Foundation has come alongside us,” Baugess says. “They have let us know that we are not forgotten. My husband is honored and revered. They have stepped in and provided scholarships so I can educate our daughters the way Larry would want us to.”
Even the performers appreciate being part of something bigger than themselves.
“This means a lot to us that we were asked to bring our music to help people. I think that’s something that we never really thought about when we were kids dreaming about music,” Matthew Ramsey, lead singer for Old Dominion, told the audience. “We thought about how it could help people through their day, help people get over a breakup, help people fall in love, and things like that. But we didn’t really think about raising money to help people who really need it.”
Carmel CC promoted the event to its membership through e-blasts, postcards, and the newsletter. The staff also fine-tuned the event for its second year by increasing the number of food trucks from four to seven, adding more restrooms and alcohol locations, and improving coordination of setup and ticket sales.
“Both of these [causes] are near and dear to our heart,” says Ty McBride, the concert chairman.
“At the same time we offer a unique experience to our membership, we’re out here to have a good time, as Carmel is known for having. It also raises money for two great charities. We’re so happy to be part of it.”