A fundraising raffle is a contest in which tickets are sold to supporters of a Nonprofit cause or mission for their chance to be drawn as the winner of a grand prize. Veterans of this fundraising method will tell you that raffles are easy to set up, require little to no upfront cost and demand minimal time to manage. When a fundraising raffle is done right it can raise tens of thousands of dollars for an organization!
For a raffle to raise a significant amount of money, it depends on three things:
- The Prize
- Ticket Price
- Selling Tickets
A successful raffle must have a grand prize with enough perceived value to entice supporters to purchase a lot of tickets at a higher price point than your typical $1 carnival raffle ticket. Fundraising raffles are unique because people are more likely to pay a higher price per ticket knowing their money is going to support a cause, but the prize still has to be exciting.
NOTE: Before you decide to host a raffle, check the raffle laws in your state. Some states do not allow raffles at all or require certain permits that must be applied for in advance.
1. The Prize
What has broad appeal and might motivate someone to take a chance on a $20 raffle ticket? Cars are always very popular, but they are prohibitively expensive and very difficult to get donated. Electronics - such as big screen TVs and stereos - are good incentives but they tend to only appeal to the guys. What about a nice relaxing vacation? Leisure travel is an activity everyone enjoys.
Traditionally, using vacation travel as a raffle prize has been difficult because fundraising committees had to rely on donated airfare, hotel stays or vacation homes to put together ad hoc packages. They also had the option of spending weeks with a travel agent putting together a unique – and usually very expensive – vacation package.
A better solution? Winspire Experiences offer a no-risk alternative that requires zero upfront cost and no extra work for the planning committee. The entire catalog of Winspire Experiences is available at no-risk which means your organization doesn’t purchase anything until after winner is declared. This lets you offer a selection of Experiences for the winner to choose from.
“Winner’s Choice” Prize
What’s better than winning an incredible vacation in a raffle? How about the ability to choose where you go and what you do?
In a "Winner's Choice" raffle the organizing committee preselects a set of packages from the Winspire catalog, giving the winner a choice of their favorite Experience. Following are some of the benefits of a “Winner’s Choice” raffle:
- Appeal to more people: Offering the winner multiple Experiences to choose from helps you to appeal to a much wider audience of potential ticket buyers. You can offer the Indy-Style Open-wheel Racing for the guys or New Orleans Jazz & Dining for couples and a Royal Caribbean Cruise for young families. Something for everybody!
- Save valuable time: Reserving Winspire packages for a Winner’s Choice Raffle takes less than 5 minutes, and deciding on which Experiences to offer can be covered in a single meeting. This leaves more time for your committee to sell tickets and promote the raffle among donors and in the community.
How many Experiences should I offer?
We usually recommend selecting anywhere from 3-5 Experiences for winners to choose from. Any more than five Experiences gets complicated and confusing for potential ticket buyers. The most successful raffles usually limit their offering to three packages because it is easier to promote and still allows for a range of Experiences that will appeal to a wide audience. Sometimes offering five packages will actually give the winner too many to choose from. We’ve had winners spend over a month trying to decide which package they want, which delays your purchase and final fundraising tally.
The second most important part of organizing a lucrative raffle is establishing the ticket price. The price needs to be high enough to raise a substantial sum of money, but low enough to entice almost anyone who is asked. As previously mentioned, people are generally willing to shell out more for a raffle ticket that supports a cause they believe in. The thought process goes something like, “What the heck… If I don’t win – at least it’s for charity!”
So how much should I charge?
To figure out how much you should charge, it’s important to first establish your monetary goals for this fundraiser. A concrete goal will not only help you set the ticket price but also figure out how many raffle tickets you need to sell.
In this case, our goal is to make $10,000. Don’t forget to figure in your costs - such as the price of the travel package and promotional materials - when setting your revenue goals.
Let’s take our example from earlier with the Open-wheel Racing ($2,300), New Orleans Jazz ($2,350) and Royal Caribbean Cruise ($2,350) packages. Take a look at the Nonprofit Cost (not Suggested Retail Value) of each package. Always use the package with the highest Nonprofit Cost when you are setting your goal. In this case, two of the packages have a Nonprofit Cost of $2,350. If you figure roughly $150 for printing tickets and promoting the raffle in your community, that means we have to sell $12,500 worth of tickets ($10,000 + $2,350 + $150 = $12,500) to raise $10,000.
Now that we have a revenue goal, we can start looking at how much we should charge per ticket. Set up a spreadsheet in Excel or Google Spreadsheets and create three columns. In the third column put your Revenue Goal and in the second column put a range of ticket prices. In the first column, divide your Revenue Goal by the Ticket Price and you will have the number of tickets you need to sell in order to reach your Revenue Goal:
The price you choose depends on whom you are selling the tickets to. If you have an intimate group of supporters who have a vested interest in your cause (such as parents at a small private school), then it makes sense to charge $50 or even $100 per ticket – especially if everyone knows the odds are as low as 1 in 120 they could win! On the other hand, if you plan to sell hundreds or thousands of tickets to a much larger audience over a longer period of time, it might make sense to charge less. Oftentimes organizations will offer a special for purchasing multiple tickets (i.e. $25 per ticket and $100 for five tickets).
Montana State University Athletics Department sold $32,000 in tickets over the course of an entire school year. Beginning in the fall, roughly 300 student athletes were asked to each sell at least 10 raffle tickets for $10 a piece to friends, family and the rest of the student body. The prize was a “Winner’s Choice” of three Winspire Experiences that included getaways to Lake Tahoe, Napa Valley and Cabo San Lucas. The winner chose the Lake Tahoe Weekend Getaway ($2,550 – which happened to be the cheapest package) so the department netted a total of $29,450.
Marin Primary and Middle School sold almost $22,000 worth of raffle tickets by involving the entire student body and their parents. The grand prize was a choice of one of four once-in-a-life-time trips provided by Winspire, including trips to Mexico, San Diego, New York and Whistler. Raffle tickets were sold for one month leading up to their annual fundraising gala for $25 a piece or $100 or five tickets by students and their families. The Association challenged student with a contest, enticing them with a big party or field trip going to the class who sold the most tickets. They held parking lot rallies, selling both event and raffle tickets in the morning as parents dropped of their kids. See the full press release here.
3. Selling Tickets
Create Raffle Tickets
You have a couple of options for what you can use as raffle tickets. If you are on a budget, you can go to the nearest dollar store and get a spool of 2,000 red raffle tickets for $10. If you want to get a little more creative, you can design and print your own raffle tickets and get them printed and cut at a local print shop.
Tickets don’t need to be complicated. Marin Primary & Middle School made their own tickets and simply included the name and location of the event on one side, and the participant’s name and phone number on the other. If you decide to design you own, check out this article for a list of recommended information to include on each ticket.
Check it out! We've developed templates that you can use to create raffle tickets, flyers and use in your email newsletter. Download them here!
Each ticket should have a corresponding “ticket stub” with the same ticket number and contact information as it appears on the buyer’s ticket. When a ticket is sold, one goes to the buyer and the corresponding ticket stub is kept and returned to the raffle organizer for the actual drawing.
NOTE: States have varying regulations for what information needs be included on each raffle ticket and ticket stub. Check local policy before designing your own raffle tickets or deciding to use simple numbered tickets from the dollar store.
Establish a Timeline
Start selling tickets at least 2 months before the raffle drawing and set goals each week to keep your team motivated. Have weekly meetings with your team to collect tickets stubs and discuss which strategies are working and what could be changed to increase sales the next week.
Who do we sell tickets to?
You can sell to anyone! Friends, family members, donors, families of donors, even people who are new to your cause. One of the best ways to drive sales is to assign members of your committee and organization at large to each sell a certain number of tickets. How many you assign each person depends on the price per ticket and how many people you have selling them.
If your organization has students, athletes or other enthusiastic youth who benefit from your cause, run a contest to see which individual or group can sell the most - with a small incentive for the winner. Set up a “Ticket Sales” thermometer in a prominent spot with your goal and update it daily. Use Social Media networks like Facebook and Twitter, as well as email campaigns to your donor base to spread the work and increase sales. Marin Primary & Middle School also created a wonderful auction flyer promoting the raffle (Look for templates like these coming soon!)
What happens if we don’t sell enough tickets?
Simply extend the timeline. You know how many tickets you need to sell to reach your goal, so you can wait until you’ve reached it before drawing a winner. If for some reason you can’t reach you revenue goal but you’ve still sold enough to make a profit, you can choose to close ticket sales and still hold the drawing.
One of the best times to draw the winner is alongside another event, such as a fundraising gala. Not only will it add to the excitement and draw more people to the event, but you can take advantage of the crowd that night to sell more tickets. Marin Primary & Middle school made over $2,000 selling raffle tickets the night of the auction event.
Drawing a winner is by far the easiest part of hosting a raffle. All the hard work selling tickets is done! Once a winner is drawn and they select a travel package they want, Winspire takes care of the rest, fulfilling their once-in-a-lifetime Experience down to every last detail.
Are you interested in hosting a “Winner’s Choice” Raffle as a fundraiser for your organization? Request a Free Consultation and one of our professional Event Consultants will get in touch will get you started.
Do you have any experience running a fundraising raffle? We want to hear about it! Leave a comment with any tips or feedback for other fundraising professionals who might be considering this fundraising method.
With an extensive background in marketing, design and event production, Ian’s role is to develop external communications for the Winspire community. Ian serves as the Editor-in-Chief for Winspire News, creating and managing blog content, newsletters, eBooks and other resources designed to help Nonprofits maximize their fundraising revenue.