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How to run an online raffle

 In-person event auctions were all the rage pre-COVID-19, but in post-pandemic times, nonprofits continue to think outside the box to offer events and fundraising campaigns with a more hybrid approach.

Online raffles can be one way to set your nonprofit apart and raise money without the added stress of in-person, auction-style events.

Check legal requirements

Each state has its own set of rules and regulations related to online raffles. Before you begin, ensure you know what is required and map that into your process. Here is an article to get you thinking about the types of answers you may need; it’s meant as a starting point and not legal guidance. We recommend speaking with your organization’s representation or otherwise so you are set with specific requirements for you.

Choose raffle prizes

You may raffle off a big-ticket item such as a vacation getaway or sporting event season tickets donated by a board member, or you may raffle a handful of small to mid-size prizes depending on raffle ticket amounts and your fundraising goal. Ideas may include:

  • Themed gift baskets
  • Electronics (i.e.: TVs, AirPods, etc.)
  • Vacation getaways
  • Watercrafts
  • Vehicles
  • Golf packages
  • Winery tours
  • Dinner party
  • Celebrity meet-and-greet

Solicit raffle prizes

The list above is great, but it’s likely you don’t have those items at your disposal. Start with board members or prominent members of your organization to see if they would be willing to donate memberships, timeshares or seasons tickets they already have. Next, consider approaching local businesses or large corporations. Make your ask specific (in nature of the ask and to whom you are making the request). Create a wish list of companies you will approach and divvy the list between your team. While you may be able to start with letters or emails, be sure to set phone call follow-ups so that you can speak to someone in person.

Outline how winners are chosen

Be clear about how winners will be chosen. Will you set this up to be done automatically, through a software system or other method? What will you use to communicate your raffle winners? Ideas include:

  • Social media posts
  • Live video (Facebook, Instagram)
  • Email
  • Home page of your website

Set up your ticket sales page

You’ll want to work with a provider to host your online raffle ticket sales, process payments and ensure donations come directly to you. Outline raffle ticket amounts, set parameters for contact information you’ll collect from those purchasing tickets, ensure your raffle rules are accessible on the page and build your page with nice visuals and information as to why you’re putting the raffle on.

Much like effective donation pages, your ticket sales page should speak to your ‘why’ and entice donors to buy one (or more!) raffle tickets because they’re excited about supporting your cause. The giveaway item(s) is icing on the cake.

Examples of additional options during raffles

In addition to the above, here are some tips from Heartland Dental Foundation and SMART Moms with bonus ideas on how they were able to spread the word for effective online raffles.

Heartland Dental Foundation partnered with 4aGoodCause client Southeastern Illinois Community Foundation to sell raffle tickets. The secret sauce in this endeavor? Ongoing communication and email outreach. “The Heartland Dental network is very generous; we raised more than $50,000 [through the raffle]. Most of that came in the last 24 hours. The fundraising committee kept the momentum going with weekly emails to the entire network and emails to regional leaders. [Heartland’s] network structure has a steady flow of communication and they love the cause they’re supporting,” mentioned the Southeastern Illinois Community Foundation.

Bonus: For those not interested in raffle tickets, the foundation offered online donation options. This opened up the potential for additional funds raised during the campaign.

SMART Moms recently ran a raffle to raise money for their ministry that supports single mothers. They were raffling five 4-packs of tickets to Disneyland. The organization raised over $3,000 online. Even better? One of the winning families donated their tickets back to SMART Moms which gave them the opportunity to run a second-chance raffle event to raise more.

Bonus: In both raffle examples, each organization used Facebook Live to announce raffle winners. Each of the events’ fundraising pages was set up on 4aGoodCause to manage ticket sales and online donations.

Get your volunteers involved

The power of social media can help online raffle events in that you’re able to ask your board members, volunteers, committee members and staff to spread the word. Create customized social media images or posts that these people can share on your behalf. Another idea? Give them a little competitive channel—see who can refer or sell the most raffle tickets and provide a prize for the winner.

Online raffles are a fun way to build momentum around your nonprofit and get others involved at the local and national level—when you host a raffle online, there’s less of a limitation as to who you’ll reach.

Looking to set up online raffle ticket sales for your nonprofit? We’d be happy to help. Contact us for information.

Ronald Pruitt

Ronald Pruitt

Ronald is the President and Founder of 4aGoodCause, the fundraising CRM that makes recurring, monthly giving a breeze for small nonprofits.

For over 25 years, Ronald has had the joy of doing what he loves, building online solutions that make a difference in the world. He’s helped raise millions of dollars online for small nonprofits across the country. Connect with Ronald on LinkedIn.

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