Nonprofit Advice: Boost Your Donations With Raffle Tickets

Most nonprofit event teams have three primary drivers of event ROI — ticket sales, sponsors, and on-site donations. And, while the first two can help net you some serious mission-driving dough, it's the latter driver that can turn your semi-successful event into a world smasher.

On-site donations can be HUGE for your event. But how do you tap into it? What if we told you that the secret sauce to higher on-site donations and bigger, better event ROIs was a teeny-tiny piece of paper? We're talking raffle tickets! So, put on your Goodfellas suit, grab a few ticket stubs, and get ready to learn why the house always wins.


What Are Raffle Tickets?

thank 'que bbq raffle ticketA raffle is an on-site donation collection method using numbered tickets and a prize. It works like the lottery. People buy tickets, and each ticket has a chance to win the prize. In the end, you earn more from the tickets than the value of the prize. Simple, right?

Well, there are a few immediate problems that we should probably discuss.

First, you CANNOT hold a raffle in Alabama, Hawaii, or Utah. So, if your event is in any of those states, raffles aren't for you. Don't worry! You have other event revenue-generating options like selling merchandise that you can tap into.

Second, for-profit businesses should most likely avoid raffles. It's almost universally illegal to run a for-profit raffle (the government considers it gambling.) So, if you run a for-profit, it's probably best to be on the side of caution and switch gears to another strategy.

So, where does that leave us?

Well, raffles are best leveraged by nonprofits looking to boost their event ROI. But do they work?

You bet they do!

Raffles are an amazing way to jumpstart donations. Not only do they attract people who simply want to win the prize (some 50% of ALL people play state lotteries), but they can be the last nudge those almost-donors need to finally commit. After all, they get something in return now, right?

How to Throw an Amazing Raffle Event

paper bags in different colors and a basket and wine

Here are 4 steps towards raffle rapture!

1. Figure Out the Basics

Your first step is going to be figuring out how to run your raffle. Here are some questions you should ask yourself:

  • Are you going to give out a big prize and sell expensive tickets? Or are you going to give out a smaller prize and sell cheap tickets?
  • Is the raffle going to be a primary component of your event or a side display?
  • How many tickets do you need?
  • How are you going to fit the raffle into your time schedule?
  • Who is going to run the raffle? Host it?
  • How does this raffle fit into my mission statement?

Once you figure those out, you can start to plot your raffle. It's absolutely critical that you highlight your nonprofit mission instead of the raffle prize. You have to make the raffle about your goals — not just paint it as a gambling event. Let everyone know what their raffle money goes towards. It will boost donations and help people remember your cause.

2. Hire Staff

You need someone to organize and handle the raffle. Tickets have to be passed out, guests have to be able to pay and receive change, and someone has to do the, well, raffling. You can use volunteers for this part to save some money. Just make sure that you're managing them correctly to ensure that the same volunteer who trained for the raffle is running the raffle (here is a list of free software that can help you find volunteers!)

3. Pay Attention to the Tickets

Raffle tickets may seem like small pieces of paper, but they're the lifeblood of the raffle.

Not only are they the good that you're handing out, but they can also be a significant source of friction. Cheap quality tickets can tear constantly, and improper organization techniques can make handing out a stream of raffle tickets a nightmare. Make sure that all of your ticketing ducks are in a row.

4. Have Fun!

This is the single most important thing — make the raffle fun! Most of your attendees already want to donate to your cause. Otherwise, they probably wouldn't be at your event. Keep the raffle low-key, fun, and calm. A raffle can definitely help you pad your nonprofit's coffers, but it shouldn't overwhelm your event.


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