Fundraising Tips

Create Successful Charity Raffles and Lotteries

June 25, 2020

Organizing raffles and lotteries for your nonprofit can seem challenging to set up with regulations in place - Here's a guide to help you!

With so many great organizations in Canada looking to stand out, it’s important to create new ways to engage with your donors. This means using interactive and fun fundraising! Although charitable lotteries are nothing new, they are a great way to attract donors and increase revenue to grow your impact. That being said, creating a successful lottery for your organization  can seem daunting due to the various provincial regulations. Don’t let this dissuade you from taking this opportunity to grow your organization’s community!

Lotteries for organizations are different from ordinary fundraising tactics. They offer a reward to the person giving to your cause. 50-70% of ticket buyers are motivated by the prizes, not your organization’s mission (Charity Village). This creates an opportunity to attract participants who wouldn’t be inclined to donating normally. What’s great is that even if they first got involved because of the lottery, you can use this opportunity to increase your new supporters awareness of your cause.

Here are the steps to start a successful lottery:

  • Choose the type of lottery
  • Create your tickets
  • Get legal approval

Choose the right type of lottery

When you host a lottery for your organization, you are raising money by selling numbered tickets, with which the winners will be drawn at random according to their number and given a prize. You can hold different types of lotteries. The most relevant for charities like your own are raffles, 50/50 draws and bingo. For raffles and 50/50 you sell individual tickets that are numbered. When the winners are drawn, in the case of a raffle they will receive a prize, in 50/50, they will receive 50% of the money that was raised. For a raffle, the total value of the prizes usually represent 30-40% of the amount predicted from ticket sales (Charity Intelligence).

As an organization, you can choose your fundraising strategy depending on the audience you are targeting. If people know your mission well, you may want to maximize the income you can make in order to further your mission, so choosing a raffle may be  best. If you want to reach people motivated mainly by the prize, hosting 50-50 might be better! For a bingo, you will need to sell bingo cards, which can be paper or electronic. Bingo is most often held as an event with participants attending and the draw completed in person, so if you are looking to have a game mostly online, this might not be the best option for you.

You must also set a date for your draw, well in advance so you have time to prepare. This is important because although lotteries are fun, they do take time to plan. The date should be set a minimum of 3 months in advance to allow for the preparation explained below.

Set up your lottery tickets

You need to create your tickets, which will have to include all the necessary information required by your provincial gaming regulatory body. There are requirements for the ticket and the stub that the buyer will keep. The information required on the ticket may include:

  • Date and time of draw
  • Location of draw
  • List of prizes
  • Individual prize value
  • Number of tickets
  • Ticket number
  • Price of the ticket
  • Date of deadline to claim prize
  • Location of prize pickup
  • Lottery license number

Be sure to add the sponsors for your event! This template is a great example of what your tickets should look like. This one was made using a ticket template on Canva, it’s quick, easy and free!

Lottery ticket for organizations
ticket 2 - lottery for your organization

Contact your regulatory body

After establishing your prizes and a date for your draw, you will need to contact your province’s gaming regulatory body to receive a license for your lottery. This must be done before announcing the game to the public, because you must meet multiple criteria to get a license. The rules, requirements and prize limits are different in each province.

We’ve sorted through all of these regulations for you. Check out what you need to know by clicking on your province:

*If you would like to perform your raffle in a way that is not outlined by your regulatory body’s licenses, contact them directly to discuss your options.*

Reach out to sponsors

To have a successful lottery for your organization that interests people in buying tickets, you are going to need great sponsors and prizes! To get these prizes donated, you’ll need to reach out to current donors as well as companies that have shown interest in supporting your mission. Start with those in your community, who will have a closer tie to your organization. When you are reaching out, present the opportunity as a collaboration by emphasizing what’s in it for them. You are providing free advertising for the company, they just need to offer a prize! Their advantage is to develop a greater impact in their community and receive publicity, especially when you share how amazing the winners experience will be with their product. If you have a point of contact or are approaching a local business, make the request in person. If not, send a formal email. Many large companies have donation requests forms on their websites. They usually indicate how far in advance you should be making your request, but for most big companies, the earlier the better because they use up their yearly donation quota quickly.

Not all prizes have to be merchandise – they could include services, experiences or gift cards. It’s important to get creative and use your entire community when looking for prizes, because the more exciting they are, the more people will want to participate.

Sell and distribute tickets

Now that you have your template, how do you plan on selling your tickets? These days, using both online and in person sales is a great way to get the word out. Setting up this type of ticketing is also easier than ever. Keep in mind that every ticket needs its own serial number, meaning if you want to have a lottery with a mix of online and paper ticketing, they need to be numbered in a sequence. Zeffy offers easy and free ticketing services, that allows you to customize the sale of your tickets. Using our platform, you can create a ticketing form, for online, separate printed tickets and mixed pricing. You can also integrate the buyer data you collect from your sales to any application you use.

Depending on the rules set out by your regulatory body, you may be permitted to sell your tickets solely online, both online and offline or in some cases, only offline. Zeffy can help you with all of these options! We can generate and send tickets to participants, or you can simply use the platform to make the transactions. It will all depend on the regulations in your province and the type of raffle you are running. You must ensure you conform to the rules set out by your regulatory body. If you are unsure, it is best to consult with your gaming commission on the best use of Zeffy.

Promote your lottery ticket sale

Once you’ve set up the administrative part of your lottery, you have to find ticket buyers! This is where you can flex your fundraising skills. You are now providing entertainment and not just asking for donations, so selling tickets will be easier. Target groups within your community that you want to get more involved in your mission. They will be able to reach others and spread the excitement about your lottery. This means contacting local shops to sell your tickets in, engaging with youth groups or encouraging companies to share it their employees.

If you have hosted lotteries for your charity in the past, get people excited by sharing past winners’ stories! Post online about what they did with their prizes and how the money raised from the event was used towards achieving your organization’s mission. This part is just as fun as winning, because your community gets to share in the excitement of their impact!

Benefits of online ticketing

Online ticketing can be really interesting, because it allows you to save the participants’ contact information. When selling actual paper tickets, you might record participants’ information, but online ticketing allows you to organize and store their data. This is useful to reach out to participants for future events and campaigns.

Online ticketing also allows you to easily manage mixed price ticketing. That way, you can sell different types of tickets, with different prices. The variety in prizes will intrigue potential buyers!

Now that you have all the steps to follow, it’s time to start planning your lottery and make it a success!