Nonprofit Raffles and Sweepstakes

Nonprofit organizations play a vital role in society, often filling gaps left by both the private sector and government agencies. They address a wide range of issues, from fighting poverty and protecting the environment, to promoting arts, culture, education, and health. These organizations are driven by the mission to bring a positive change in our communities and the world at large.

Fundraising is an integral part of a nonprofit’s existence, as it allows these organizations to secure the necessary resources to carry out their mission. Here are some common fundraising methods:

  • Fundraising events or galas. These formal events include dinner, entertainment, auctions, and appeals for donations.
  • Crowdfunding campaigns for specific projects or needs using sites such as GoFundMe or Kickstarter.
  • Donation drives – Nonprofits collect donated items like food, clothing, books, etc. to support their cause.
  • Direct mail/letter campaigns – Nonprofits send out appeals and information by mail asking supporters to donate.
  • Membership programs – Nonprofits offer exclusive benefits and events to members who donate set amounts each year.
  • Charity events such as walks or runs – Participants collect pledges and donations for completing a 5K, marathon, etc.
  • Donation programs – Nonprofits accept donated cars, boats, RVs and many other valuable items which they can sell at auction.
  • Corporate sponsorships – Nonprofits partner with corporations for cause-marketing campaigns, event sponsorships, etc.
  • Celebrity endorsements – Celebrities lend their star power to fundraising campaigns.
  • Merchandise sales – Nonprofits sell branded apparel, bags, mugs, etc. to raise unrestricted funds.
  • Planned giving or bequests – Nonprofits encourage supporters to name them in their wills and estate plans.

One method that is often combined with the above-mentioned methods is the winner drawing. We will take a deeper look at how nonprofits use winner drawings for fundraising, the regulations surrounding raffles, best practices for organizing and marketing winner drawings, and real-world examples of effective winner drawings.

Winner Drawings for Nonprofits

Winner drawings can be a mighty tool in a nonprofit’s fundraising arsenal. They offer a unique way to engage donors, motivate higher spending, and attract a broader audience.

People are more likely to donate if they know they could win something in return. Even small prize drawings can boost donations. The allure of winner drawings lies in the potential for a win-win situation – donors contribute to a worthy cause and simultaneously stand a chance to win a prize. This double incentive can make the donation experience more exciting and personally rewarding for the participant.

Unlike a traditional donation where the giver receives a thank-you note or a tax write-off, the competitive element of a drawing adds an element of fun and anticipation. Prizes often vary from small tokens of appreciation to grand prizes like vacations, cars, or even houses, further stimulating interest and participation.

A well-executed winner drawing can encourage individuals to donate more than they usually would. The prospect of winning an appealing prize can motivate donors to increase their donation amount, the size of the donation can raise the number of entries in the drawing.

Moreover, drawings can attract a wider audience – people who may not have previously considered donating to a particular cause might be enticed to contribute due to the added benefit of the potential prize.

Raffles or sweepstakes can build your donor email list. To enter drawings, people need to provide their contact info.

It’s also worth noting that winner drawings can generate buzz and publicity for the nonprofit organization. As people share it with their friends and family, the organization and its cause can reach a larger audience. This can lead to increased awareness about the nonprofit’s work, attracting new donors and volunteers.

As with any fundraising strategy, it’s essential to implement the drawings in a transparent and ethical manner, ensuring that the process is fair, and the focus remains on the causes that the organization serves.

Drawings work for non-profits of any size. From local charities to large national groups, winner drawings are an accessible and effective fundraising tool. The format is easily scalable.

Be Transparent – Fairness Is Critical.

Fairness is important to feel like a legitimate chance to support a cause, not just the specific fundraising event. Transparency builds good faith with donors and sets proper expectations about your organization.

Use a random number generator or other impartial method like publicly pulling tickets from a bin to select the winner. Have the drawing supervised or conducted by an independent third party to verify fairness. This could be a public notary, or lawyer. Another option is using a third-party drawing service to remove bias and make the drawing verifiably random. Yes – that’s when RandomPicker comes into play.

Keep contest rules simple. Overly complex rules create loopholes and confusion. Clearly disclose number of tickets, prizes, rules for participation, and other important information.

Did you know that Nonprofit Day is celebrated on October 2nd and International Charity Day on September 5th every year? These observances highlight the invaluable contributions of nonprofit, NGOs and charitable organizations and individuals in making a positive difference in the lives of others.

Participant and Entries

How do you actually collect participant entries and choose winners? While the old-school methods still work, new online options streamline the process.

Traditional Offline Entry Collection: The classic way to collect drawing entries is by selling physical paper tickets. This involves printing numbered ticket stubs and distributing them to sellers around the community. Buyers receive the stub as proof of entry. All stubs then get collected and thrown into a hat or bin for the drawing. You can also collect entries by accepting names, emails, and phone numbers written directly on paper sign-up sheets. Compiling these into a spreadsheet allows you to assign each a number. Print the list, cut into strips, and add to the drawing bin.

While these manual methods work, they mean lots of paper to organize and store. Transferring information to spreadsheets is also time-consuming and prone to data entry errors.

Streamlined Online Entry Options: For digital-friendly nonprofits, online forms simplify collecting drawing entries. Online entry collection saves nonprofits time by eliminating manual data entry. Digital access also makes it easy for supporters to participate from anywhere. For drawing management that’s easy, efficient, and engaging, digital entry collection is ideal for modern nonprofits.

You can create a basic submission form using an online form builder like Google Forms, MS Forms, TypeForm, MailChimp, SurveyMonkey or any other form solution. For WordPress websites, there are several form plugins like WP Forms, Ninja Forms and others. They allow participants to submit their information so you can easily download the list and process the entries. RandomPicker supports imports from several different file types (xlsx, csv, txt).

RandomPicker also provides a registration form feature that collects entries and stores them directly in the platform for easy drawing. You can choose from several different drawing mechanics:

  • Participants get random prizes; every participant has the same chance of winning.
  • Participants get random prizes; each participant can have a different chance of winning (the more tickets they buy, the higher is the chance to win).
  • Participants can win their preferred prize by allocating their tickets into the specific prize/s.

Raffle Prizes

The prizes offered are one of the most important factors in a nonprofit raffle. Attractive prizes entice participation, help sell more tickets, and enable you to raise more money for your cause. Taking time to curate exciting prizes tailored to your audience is key: handpick prizes your supporters would love to win.

One big prize or many small prizes?

Offer multiple prizes. Having only one prize means very low odds. Multiple prizes give more people a chance.

Rather than just one standout prize, having multiple prize levels and options broadens appeal. Offering both the chance at a big prize along with consolation prizes increases participation. Prizes like gift cards, gift baskets, and branded merchandise can have lower costs while still exciting donors.

It’s recommended to keep total prize values under 10% of your fundraising goals. You can also try to find prize donors or negotiate sponsorship deals with local businesses to reduce out-of-pocket expenses. Here are some useful tips for negotiating prize sponsorship:

  • Make a wish list of ideal prizes and reach out to relevant businesses that could donate those items. Clearly explain how they would benefit from the exposure/publicity. Frame the sponsorship as an opportunity to align their brand with a meaningful cause that fits their target consumer or improve relationship with local communities.
  • See if you can trade marketing exposure to your base in return for no-cost or discounted prizes. Offer sponsor logos and mentions in all raffle promotions and materials as well as web and social media recognition. Sponsors are often interested in advertising value and website backlinks.
  • Leverage any connections board members or key supporters have with local businesses and get introductions to decision-makers.
  • Negotiate deals of partial monetary sponsorship and partial in-kind donation if needed to offset costs.
  • Propose creative co-promotional opportunities around the prize:
    • Sponsor sets up a booth/table at the event to engage attendees and promote their business.
    • Raffle tickets sold at the sponsor’s retail locations.
    • Sponsors mentioned in all promotional announcements about the prize they are providing.
    • Digital ad or video ad from the sponsor plays at the raffle drawing event between announcements.
    • Sponsor provides coupons or samples to all raffle ticket purchasers.
    • Sponsor is invited to announce their sponsored prize at the event.
    • Raffle winners are announced on the sponsor’s social media as well as the nonprofit’s channels.
    • Sponsor name/logo on keepsake certificates for raffle ticket purchasers.
    • VIP tickets for sponsor executives to attend nonprofit’s event.

Raffle Prize Ideas for Nonprofits and Charities

The goal is to tailor prizes that appeal to each nonprofit’s unique audience and mission. Prizes don’t have to be luxurious and expensive if meaningfully aligned with the cause. Practical prizes with clear ties to the cause make relevant, attractive options.

Of course, general prizes might work well, too (camping and outdoor equipment, sport equipment, garden or DIY tools, consumer electronics, gadgets, tech accessories, food, drinks, vouchers to restaurants, wellness, books, entertainment and many other).

Current event and next events:

  • Celebrity Meet & Greet
  • Backstage tour pass
  • Free VIP tickets to the next annual gala
  • Subscription boxes

Animal Rescue/Humane Society:

  • Pet supply gift baskets
  • Dog/cat toys, treats, quilts
  • Pet photography session
  • Custom pet portraits
  • Vet services gift cards
  • Adorable adoptable pet

Environmental Nonprofit:

  • Electric bike
  • Solar chargers/devices
  • Reusable water bottles
  • National parks annual pass
  • Camping/hiking gear
  • Eco-friendly gift baskets

Medical Research Organization:

  • Luxury vacation packages
  • Health/wellness experiences
  • Fitness trackers and devices
  • Massage/spa gift certificates
  • Nutrition counseling packages
  • Yoga/meditation classes

Youth/Education Organization:

  • Scholarship fund contribution
  • Tech devices – laptops, tablets
  • Amusement park tickets
  • Museum/attraction passes
  • Sports/concert tickets
  • Gift cards for books, games, music

For art and cultural nonprofits:

  • Tickets or season passes to museums, theaters, concerts, events
  • Backstage tours with VIP access
  • Art, pottery, or photography classes
  • Music lessons
  • Signed books, albums, artwork
  • Custom art commission prize

For social service nonprofits:

  • Grocery or gas gift cards
  • Care packages with essentials
  • Meal delivery service certificates
  • Career coaching sessions
  • Professional clothing package
  • Home/auto repair service certificates

For youth nonprofits:

  • Game consoles and video games
  • Sporting equipment and uniforms
  • Camp, adventure, or experience prizes
  • Electronics like phones and headphones
  • College application fee waivers
  • Dorm room makeover package

For church:

  • Digital bible
  • Christian books bundle
  • DVD bundle of faith movies
  • Bible study journal set
  • Devotional candles
  • Scented candles
  • Trip to a spiritual place
  • Free childcare services during church events for a specific time period
  • Reserved VIP parking spot at the church for a year
  • Custom stained glass art piece with religious themes
  • Ticket package to Christian concerts or events

For war veterans nonprofit:

  • All-inclusive trip to Washington D.C. to visit war memorials and historic sites
  • Tickets and meet & greet passes for a USO show
  • Custom patriotic backyard fire pit set up
  • One year membership to the local gun range or golf course
  • Gift certificate for an adaptive recreation activity like kayaking
  • Ticket package to local professional sporting events
  • Premium whiskey or cigar package
  • Car detailing and auto repair service certificates
  • Grilling/BBQ set with steaks and assorted meats
  • Fishing boat excursion charter trip

Drawing Winners

Here are some of the most common methods used for selecting winners:

Traditional methods:

  • Drawing tickets out of a hat or bin – This classic method involves compiling all ticket stubs and drawing them at random.
  • Spinning a prize wheel – Names of participants are attached to a spinning wheel that is used to pick winners.
  • Roll of dice – Assign each entry a number then roll dice to generate the winning number.
  • Random number generator – An automated random number picker can select the winning entry.

Online & Digital Selection Methods:

  • Spreadsheet formulas – Use Excel’s formula to pick a random row from your entry spreadsheet.
  • Online random generator or raffle apps – tools like allow you to input names for instant randomized drawings and select winners in a unbiased and transparent way. You can show the drawing live – seeing it happen in real-time boosts trust.

The key is using a demonstrably fair and tamper-proof randomization method to ensure legal compliance and participant trust. Automated online drawing tools provide convenience, transparency, and credibility.

We recommend announcing winners publicly. Share their names across your platforms. Avoid any appearance of hiding winners.

There are several keywords used in connection to the winner drawings – raffles, lotteries, sweepstakes and giveaways. They are used interchangeably but have different meanings in relation to the law, so it’s important to highlight the differences, especially for nonprofits.

Raffles require participants to pay for a chance to win a prize, with winners selected randomly. Nonprofits are typically allowed to organize raffles, but state and local laws regulate this, for example:

  • Organizers must obtain required state gaming/raffle permits and licenses.
  • Limitations by local rules on eligible organizations, allowable prize values, and raffle frequency.
  • In some countries/states, interstate raffle ticket sales without multiple state approvals are not allowed.
  • The odds of winning and raffle rules must be disclosed publicly.
  • You must select winners randomly using a verifiable process.
  • Prizes must be awarded as promoted and comply with tax reporting requirements.
  • There are often limitations for raffle participation to people within country/state borders.
  • Some states require a certified gaming manager.

Sweepstakes are contests that do not require payment or consideration to enter. Entrants may have to complete a form or submit an email address. Nonprofits can organize legal sweepstakes. Sweepstakes are often preferred to raffles for lower legal requirements.

Giveaways simply award prizes at random requiring no purchase or submission from participants. Nonprofits can organize giveaways freely.
All raffles and sweepstakes require disclosures, eligibility restrictions for minors, and transparency in winner selection and prize awarding.

Lotteries also involve paying for the chance to win but are strictly regulated by state governments who operate them. Nonprofits cannot organize lotteries.

Adhering to laws and best practices for integrity and transparency in the winner selection process is crucial for both legal compliance and public trust. In most countries, there are strict legal requirements surrounding raffle winner selection that nonprofit organizations should keep in mind. As the requirements differ country by country, consulting an attorney familiar with local gaming and nonprofit regulations is recommended to ensure you meet all requirements and avoid any violations based on the specifics of your drawing and location.

Local laws may also require certain raffles and drawings to have a neutral third party or witness present during the winner selection process.

Comprehensive terms and conditions for your raffle is essential to protect you, your organization, and also your participants from any possible disputes or misunderstandings. Here are some important aspects you should consider including in your raffle terms and conditions:

  • Entry Instructions: clear instructions on how to participate. Are multiple submissions permitted and do they improve the odds of winning? Use of automated tools to submit entries, or non-compliance with all federal, state, and local regulations might result in disqualification.
  • Entry Period: the exact start and end dates.
  • Prizes: clearly describe the prizes, their value, and any restrictions or limitations that may apply to them.
  • Eligibility: clearly define who is eligible to participate, specifying age, location, and other relevant restrictions.
  • Winner Selection: explain how the winner(s) will be chosen (e.g., randomly or based on specific criteria). Include details regarding the odds of winning, if applicable. You can mention as the selection platform.
  • Winner Notification: specify how the winner(s) will be contacted and the timeframe in which they must respond to claim their prize.
  • Sponsor & Administrator: identify the company or individual responsible for the raffle/sweepstakes and provide contact information for inquiries or concerns.
  • Rights and Permissions: obtain consent from participants to use their information, content, and images submitted during the raffle/sweepstakes/giveaway for promotional purposes. This will protect your brand from potential copyright issues.
  • Record-keeping: keeping records on details like entrants, winners, donations for a minimum time period.
  • Liability and Disclaimers: limit your liability for any potential issues, such as technical malfunctions or disputes.
  • Law and taxes: state which country/state’s laws will govern the raffle/giveaway and any disputes that may arise. Liability for any local tax obligations.
  • Privacy Policy: inform participants how their personal information will be used and protected.
  • Right to Cancel or Modify: reserve the right to cancel, terminate, or modify the raffle/giveaway if unforeseen circumstances arise.