|   Posted: February 09, 2022

Matt Vermeer is a sponsor in Michigan who co-founded an annual golf tournament that has raised $120,000 for Compassion and helped find sponsors for 17 children over 10 years!

From Mini Golf to Six Figures

Matt Vermeer is a sponsor in Michigan who co-founded an annual golf tournament that has raised $120,000 for Compassion and helped find sponsors for 17 children over 10 years!

Matt and Kristi Vermeer

As sponsors of five children, one now graduated from Compassion’s program, my family recognizes our blessings. We are eager to help even more people living in poverty and to ease the suffering of the poor. Hosting a fundraiser seemed like the obvious way to do that — but we set out to create a fundraiser people actually wanted to attend.

Together with my friend Brent Kehrwecker (also a child sponsor) and a supportive community of generous people, I launched a fundraiser that in 10 years raised over $120,000 for children living in poverty! Here’s how we did it. I hope our story inspires you to use your unique hobbies or passions to help children in poverty.

Mini Beginnings

Our story began when Brent and I embarked on a journey to help children in need through Compassion International. Seeds for the event were planted many years before that, when my wife and I sponsored our first child at a Michael W. Smith concert.

We saw how our sponsorships were helping children in poverty, and we wanted to use our talents to launch a fundraiser that inspired our community to join the fight against poverty. During our careers in commercial banking, Brent and I have attended plenty of golf fundraisers — some more fun, organized and successful than others. We’ll call our first fundraising year 0.5, as it wasn’t the official start of what would become a decade-old golf outing.

The closest we got to actual golf during year 0.5 was a miniature golf course at a family entertainment park. The idea was to raise money by selling tickets. As noble as the concept was, it ultimately didn’t have the desired results. Why did we fall short? Because we dreamed too small (literally) with the mini golf idea! We needed to trust God to do something much bigger.

A Bigger Vision

Even though golf fundraisers are a tried-and-true way to help charity, we were initially resistant to the idea because we worried there were too many of them already packed into Michigan’s short summers. Nevertheless, we decided to “just do it” — trusting Jesus that our basic golf outing knowledge and relationships in our community would, in a small way, allow us to fulfill his commands to care for the poor, widows and orphans.

Our community is what brought our bigger vision into focus. Brent (pictured below with his family) knew the owners of Diamond Springs Golf Course, and we leaned on their course pro to learn best practices to make this an event that people wanted to attend year after year. Then we started reaching out to friends and colleagues, asking them to participate in or donate toward a golf event. Because Brent and I both have confidence in Compassion and the great work they do, this part was easy.

In 2020, we celebrated our 10th successful annual golf fundraiser, despite the pandemic. We had expected to cancel the event due to COVID-19. However, this is an event that many participants have come to look forward to each year, and we began to receive inquiries from many of them. In a year that was fraught with hardships for many, the event included 96 golfers and raised $18,000 for Compassion, along with one child sponsorship!

$120,000 and 17 Children Sponsored

Over 10 years, the outing has seen 17 children sponsored and approximately $120,000 raised for Compassion. That includes $6,000 for mosquito nets, $26,000 for safe water systems and $88,000 to the Unsponsored Children’s Fund. We also know that seeds were planted that produced fruit outside the outing, such as additional child sponsorships and donations.

Not to us, LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.

Psalm 115:1 (NIV)

About the author: Matt Vermeer is a Compassion sponsor and advocate who lives in Michigan with his wife and their four children.