Raffles can be part of your nonprofit organization's event or run separately in person and online. There are several types of raffles, but the idea is a lottery where people purchase tickets for the chance to win prizes.
Successful raffles can help nonprofits raise money, connect with a broader audience, and build relationships with new donors. In this article, we'll discuss how a raffle works and outline the different steps to host a successful raffle:
- Define Your Fundraising Goals
- Choose a Date and Time for your Raffle Drawing
- Set a Budget
- Choose Raffle Prizes
- Design and Print Raffle Tickets
- Promote and Sell Raffle Tickets
- Host the Drawing Event
- Thank Participants and Sponsors
- Evaluate and Report
Bonus tips and resource:
- What are some alternatives to a classic raffle you can choose?
- Example of a Successful Raffle Fundraiser
- Download our Free Raffle Instructions Sample
How Does a Raffle Work?
A raffle is a type of lottery where people purchase tickets to win prizes. Nonprofits must adhere to state and local laws regarding permits, prize values, and how they use the proceeds.
When running a raffle, nonprofits must provide clear instructions about how to purchase raffle tickets. Nonprofits must also be transparent about the raffle prize value, raffle ticket prices, and their fundraising cause.
9 Steps to Run a Successful Raffle
1. Define Your Fundraising Goals
As with any fundraiser, the first step is to decide on your raffle’s fundraising goals. Are you running a raffle to help cover your organization's operational costs, or will it raise money to provide new programming or fund a specific project? Choosing a compelling cause will help you promote and sell raffle tickets.
2. Choose a Date and Time for your Raffle Drawing
Several factors will determine how much you can raise with your raffle. One of these factors is when you choose to hold your raffle. If you run a raffle as part of an existing event, you'll have access to a significant amount of your donor base. Online raffles can also help nonprofits reach a broader audience.
Once you've decided on your raffle's fundraising goal, it should be easier to determine which type of event and raffle drawing will encourage the most participation.
Get the Required Permits
After choosing a date, you must contact your local municipal government building to apply for necessary raffle permits. States and local governments typically have different raffle laws and regulations. Before running a raffle, your nonprofit organization must check online to ensure you follow all state and local laws. If necessary, report results after your event to local authorities.
3. Set a Budget
Once you've determined your raffle fundraising goals, it's time to set a budget. As we've already discussed, several factors may determine how many tickets you sell, including:
- Prize value
- Ticket price
- Donor base
- Time of year
- Fundraising cause
- Date and time of drawing
- Raffle online or at an in-person event
4. Choose Raffle Prizes
Hosting a successful raffle fundraiser is largely due to your chosen raffle prize. You must find a raffle prize that fits your donor base and community. This can range from cash to a grand prize, like a dream vacation. You can also run a raffle with multiple prizes. In this case, you'll want to choose smaller, more unique items or create raffle baskets. Gift certificates can be excellent options for smaller raffles.
5. Design and Print Raffle Tickets
Most raffle fundraisers encourage donors to buy tickets to win prizes. Nonprofits can design raffle tickets with their branding colors and other images that draw the eye, and add their logo, and a tagline.
How much should the tickets cost?
Various factors may play a part in determining the price of your raffle tickets, including:
- Prize value
- Target audience
- Event purpose and goal
- Legal Considerations
Most tickets range between $1 to $20, but if the prize is exciting enough, like a week-long vacation or trip, you can sell tickets for over $100.
Run Your Raffle With Tickets and Without
Each raffle ticket should have a unique number or code to make it easier to draw and identify the raffle winner. Most printed raffle tickets include space for the donor to enter their name, phone number, and other contact information. Nonprofits can design and print their own tickets or purchase them from big box stores like Office Max.
Printed tickets aren't necessary if you’re running an online raffle. Online fundraising platforms like Zeffy allow nonprofits to sell online raffle tickets. Nonprofits selling tickets online can design the sales page with branded colors and their logo and price tickets individually or in bundles.
6. Promote and Sell Raffle Tickets
Now it's time to promote your raffle in person and online. You can post flyers around your community with details on your raffle and drawing date and add a QR code to sell them directly. You can also share images and details on your raffle prize or prizes, along with information on your raffle and a link to your online sales page.
Nonprofits can sell tickets at their facility, other physical locations, and during events. Organizations can also sell tickets to a broader audience with an online fundraising platform. Adding a raffle to your peer-to-peer fundraising campaign can be an excellent way to raise more money.
With this campaign, nonprofits can ask volunteers to share raffle details with friends and family in person, with emails, and by posting on their social media accounts. Volunteers can then sell raffle tickets in person and with an online sales page.
7. Host the Drawing Event
Nonprofits can choose to run their drawing in person or online. You can excite supporters with a live stream of your event and the raffle draw or record drawing to share with all donors.
Transparency is crucial during raffle drawings. Nonprofits must follow several steps to ensure an ethical and fair raffle process.
- Ensure you follow all local laws and regulations
- Make sure to extensively publicize the raffle and prize and raffle
- Sell and track all tickets sold
- Ensure accessibility to raffle drawing
- Determine a method of drawing (pull tickets from a hat or box, random number generator, or computerized)
- Make the drawing public or live stream the drawing to maintain credibility
- Ensure all tickets sold are in the container and mixed thoroughly before drawing. Make sure to randomly select the ticket without seeing a number or name beforehand.
- Announce the winning ticket number or name to the audience. If the winner is not present, make arrangements to contact them and clearly explain how they can claim their prize.
8. Thank Participants and Sponsors
After your raffle drawing, you must thank all participants, sponsors, and volunteers. If you sell raffle tickets online, you can find a platform that allows you to send automated receipts. Otherwise, you send a thank you card to everyone who buys raffle tickets. While you should send sponsors a tax receipt and personal acknowledgment, it's important to explain that donors' purchase of a raffle ticket is not tax-deductible in the US or Canada.
9. Evaluate and Report
A successful raffle fundraiser can help nonprofits raise thousands of dollars and give you a simple way to promote your organization and cause with a new audience. After your event, you'll want to run reports and evaluate whether you met your fundraising goals, what worked, and where improvements are needed.
You should also collect contact information for all supporters who bought tickets. You can add these details to your organization's donor database and tag them to invite them to your next raffle event.
Alternatives to a Classic Raffle
A classic raffle is where participants purchase tickets to win prizes. Winners are randomly selected with a drawing. If you'd like to be a little different, here are several other raffle types you can try:
Attendees purchase tickets and half the money collected from ticket sales goes to the winner. The other half goes to the nonprofit organization. This type of raffle works best when winners are present at the drawing.
Individuals can buy raffle tickets and put them in jars or boxes next to various prizes. There is typically no limit to the number of tickets people can buy or add to a specific prize.
Raffle tickets correspond to specific dates on a calendar. Prizes are listed on the calendar and drawn every day, every other day, weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly.
Like with a 50/50 raffle, half the money collected from ticket sales goes to the winner, but this time, the last ticket drawn wins instead of the first in this raffle.
Nonprofits can choose one winner or ask the last ten ticket holders if they want to share the final amount. This can build suspense as the drawing progresses.
Gives ticket buyers multiple chances to win one of various prizes. Participants who don't win in earlier rounds may still have chances to win bigger prizes later.
Door Prize Raffle
All event attendees are automatically entered into a raffle for a prize.
Participants buy a scratch-off or tear-off ticket that immediately reveals if the ticket holder won a prize.
If you don't want to sell tickets, you can hand out keys to participants that may unlock a prize. This type of raffle works best when connected with an event.
Case Study: Example of a Successful Raffle Fundraiser
Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of St. Thomas-Elgin holds a Gift of Flight Raffle to help create a brighter future for children. Winners receive two round-trip tickets to any WestJet location.
BBBS sells its raffle tickets for $5 each or $20 for five tickets and has started using QR codes on its emails and other marketing pieces. BBBS uses Zeffy to sell 1,500 tickets online, combined with the 1,500 tickets sold in person.
Each Gift of Flight raffle brings in $3,000 annually. Thanks to Zeffy's 100% fundraising service, they do not have to waste money on fees and can keep every penny!
Download Our Free Raffle Instructions Sample
Raffle Instructions Template:
Welcome to our [Raffle Name] on [Date] at [Location]!
- Buy a ticket for [$ Amount] for the chance to win [Raffle Prize]
- Raffle ticket funds help fund [Organization's Fundraising Cause]
- Raffle tickets must be purchased by [Date/Time Raffle Closes]
- Winners must be present at the time of drawing or must log to [Organization Name]'s website using the link stated on the raffle tickets
- Raffle tickets will be drawn at [Event Name]
- Winners will be announced at the drawing and online
- Winners can collect their prizes [include details here]
In the United States and Canada, a donor’s purchase of a raffle ticket at $[Amount] is not tax-deductible.
As per the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requirements, on the day of the drawing, [Nonprofit Name] must withhold 25% from cash winnings over $5,000 and must report the prize amount to the IRS. Noncash prize winners must pay [Nonprofit Name] 25% of fair market value minus the raffle ticket amount.
Contest prizes and winnings are not taxable in Canada, so donors do not have to report it on their Canadian tax returns.
Organize your Raffle with Zeffy
Zeffy allows nonprofits to run 100% free raffles online! With Zeffy, nonprofits can sell raffle tickets on their website, via email, QR code, or in person.
Nonprofits can customize raffle forms to include branding colors, images, and a custom banner. As tickets go on sale, organizations can scan and track ticket sales and send automatic tax receipts to raffle participants.
- Offer early bird tickets and ticket bundles
- Offer a Discount Code
- Create raffle forms in English and Spanish (US only) and French (Canada only)
- Sell tickets at your event with Tap to Pay (only your iPhone is needed)
- Accepts all credit cards, Apple Pay, Google Pay, ACH, PAD, and Cheque
Absolutely No Fees!
"We love that Zeffy allows us to do fundraising events for our non-profits and automatically issues the tickets for saving us money on printing costs and also saves us from manual tracking. The fact that they don't take any money and allows our non-profit to keep 100% is amazing. I have recommended them to several other non-profits I am associated with and will continue to do so."
Anabella D. H., President & CEO
FAQ About Raffles and Zeffy Online Raffle
Who can host a raffle?
Nonprofits, companies, groups, and individuals can host raffles, but you must do your due diligence to ensure you follow all local laws.
How to run a raffle without tickets?
Running a raffle online is more cost-effective and does not have to include printing tickets. Zeffy automatically generates and sends a numbered e-ticket to donors after their purchase. Nonprofits can scan and track these raffle tickets with a QR code.
How to create raffle tickets?
Nonprofits can design and print raffle tickets, purchase pre-made tickets from big box stores like Office Max, or create customizable raffle forms with Zeffy to sell online.
Should I put the winning ticket back in the box for the next raffle prize?
It's vital to remove winning tickets when drawing raffle tickets to ensure winners only win one prize. Fairness and transparency are critical for nonprofits.
Can the person running the raffle be in the drawing?
It's best to limit raffle participation to individuals outside the event committee. Under no circumstances should the person running the raffle enter the drawing.
How do I draw the winner?
Depending on the raffle type, you must have a transparent process to draw the winner. You should have one individual draw the winner and an additional person to oversee the process.
Can I create ticket bundles?
Zeffy allows nonprofits to sell raffle ticket bundles. Choose "Options" when creating your raffle page to create a ticket bundle, and enter the number of tickets and the amount for your bundles.
Can I do an ongoing raffle?
Ongoing raffles are a great way to build excitement, raise more money, and reach a broader audience. 50/50 or Reverse Raffles are the best choice for an ongoing raffle. Winner takes half the pot at each drawing, and the nonprofit can transfer the other half to the next drawing to encourage greater participation.
Ongoing and calendar raffles require numerous dates for their raffles. Nonprofits can create unlimited raffle forms with Zeffy, sell limited quantities and ticket bundles, manage multi-date sales, and track ticket sales as they come in.
Can I sell tickets in person?
Zeffy allows you to customize your raffle and sell tickets online and in person, either through the Tap to Pay App or by manually adding a payment. Zeffy generate automatic tax receipts and send tickets to all participants!
Can I merge an event and ticketing form?
Zeffy allows nonprofits to add online and offline ticket sales to any online campaign. We also keep track of ticket purchases, send automatic tax receipts, and add participants' information to your donor database.