Are you considering running a charity raffle? Raffles are a great way to raise money and awareness for your nonprofit, but there are several things you need to know to do it right. That’s why we put together this handy guide.

Ready? Let’s dive in.

Benefits of a Charity Raffle

Charity raffles are an easy, affordable way to generate funds, create awareness, and capture new audiences for your organization. Let’s look at some of the benefits of holding a charity raffle.

1.    Easy

These days raffles can be conducted entirely online. That means that time-consuming ticket selling and in-person promotion are a thing of the past (though it can be a great way to get volunteers involved!). Everything from ticket purchasing, to advertising and promotion, to the draw itself can be done online—and the best part is that the broad reach of the internet will bring in a larger audience and more revenue.

2.    Affordable

Another great benefit of a 50/50 raffle is that there is no need to spend funds on obtaining a prize, as the prize is generated through ticket sales. As tickets are sold, the proceeds go into the winnings’ pot, and as the prize gets larger, ticket sales usually climb too. By the time a winner is selected the prize could be a life-changing amount of cash for the winner and a significant cash influx for your organization.

3.    A Great Way to Get Your Message Out

Raffle promotion is a fantastic storytelling opportunity for your charity. Social media posts advertising the raffle in the lead-up to the event allow you to share the good work your organization is doing and the impact a donation will make. Don’t be afraid to get testimonials from volunteers and those you’ve helped—donors love that personal touch!

4.    Database Building and Donor Retention

Donor retention can be tricky for many organizations and raffles are a great way to attract and keep new donors. Think about it, lots of folks will purchase a ticket for the chance of winning the big prize, but in order to purchase that ticket they will be given the opportunity to sign up for your mailing list (you’ll need their permission, of course). Now that you’ve got them on your list, you have the opportunity to engage them in your work and entice them to become further involved.

Who Can Run a Raffle?

While Canada allows charitable organizations to hold 50/50 raffles and other gaming events as fundraisers, a not-for-profit must first apply for the correct license to do so legally in their province. If you don’t have the proper gaming licence, you could be subject to fines or other legal troubles, so it’s essential to get your paperwork in order before starting.

The gaming application process

Each province and territory will have their own Licensed Charitable Gaming Rules that must be followed. Usually, these licences are dependent on the type of event being held. If you’re holding multiple events, each must have a separate licence. Obtaining the correct licences and opening gaming accounts (if you don’t already have one) can take several weeks, so keep these timelines in mind when determining your raffle launch date.

Electronic Raffle Systems (ERS)

When running an online raffle, you must also use an approved electronic raffle system provider for your province or territory. Electronic Raffle Systems (ERS) are online services offered by registered providers to conduct ticket raffles.

The provider will handle the online ticket sales through their website, with their payment and processing system, and deliver the tickets virtually to the buyer’s email. Come draw day, the ERS provider will select the winning ticket using a random number generator. This process ensures that the raffle is conducted fairly and securely.

You can find a list of government agencies in Canada that handle gaming licensing along with a list of Electronic Raffle providers in the Resources tab at

What Do You Need for a Successful Charity Raffle?

To hold a successful raffle there are a number of things that will be useful for your organization to have. These include:

  • An enthusiastic leader that will promote the raffle and create excitement
  • A team of volunteers and employees to share social media posts and sell tickets
  • A marketing budget large enough to create awareness and reach your intended audience
  • A strong and engaged social media following
  • Permission from Facebook to post about gaming events and contests (be sure to read their rules carefully)
  • A decently sized mailing list that receives regular correspondence from your organization

Raffle Rules

Licensed charitable gaming has become a highly popular fundraising activity for charities in Canada, and players enjoy it both online and off. But before you start planning a gaming event, you must make sure you’re familiar with your province’s or territory’s online charitable gaming laws and regulations.

These rules periodically change, but they generally concern issues such as:

  • Eligibility: Who is and is not allowed to participate in the game. Members of the board of directors and those in charge of the event are not permitted to participate. Additionally, many organizations do not allow their staff to purchase raffle tickets to avoid the possibility of negative optics if a staff member wins.
  • Venue: All licenced gaming events must be held in public places.
  • Disbursement of Prize Money: Gaming proceeds must be disbursed within certain time frames. Moreover, organizations are responsible for contacting and notifying prize winners within a specified period of time.

At the time of the draw, a list of winners must be completed, signed and witnessed, and the winners must provide a signature before claiming their prize.

  • Record Keeping: Be sure to submit all reports within the specified timeframe, and keep gaming records for the required number of years.
  • Sales and Advertising: Make sure to follow the sales and advertising rules for your area and platform. For example, different social media websites have specific rules around advertising contests—it’s important to know them!
  • Collecting Payment: All payment transactions must occur according to your license within your province or territory.  For 50/50 online raffles, eligible organizations are permitted to use a certified ERS Electronic Raffle Systems as mentioned above.
A women who is excited that she doesn't have to set up the raffle herself.

Setting Revenue Goals, Timelines, and Ticket Pricing

Revenue Goals

There are a few things you need to decide when considering the revenue goal. As a 50/50 raffle, the winner receives half the gross sales, while the charity retains the other half, less expenses. Some fees to consider are:

  • credit card processing fees,
  • marketing costs,
  • licencing fees,
  • fees for the electronic raffle system provider and
  • fundraiser’s fees (if you want someone like Do Gooders to handle the work for you.)

You have to consider your marketing budget and the level of awareness you can create to come up with a realistic goal. Some charities start with a modest gross revenue goal of $10,000.00 for their first raffle to gauge what type of response they will receive for their efforts.

Keep in mind that the raffle revenues should grow over time as you repeat the process and your constituents, and the public become aware of your raffle. In time, you should create a steady revenue stream for your organization.

Sales Duration and Setting Ticket Prices

An important question to consider is how long do you want to run the charity raffle for. You want the timeframe to be long enough to reach a large audience, but not so long that ticket buyers lose interest. Additionally,  you can time the raffle draw for a special day like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or just before Christmas and align your marketing with the holiday.

As for pricing, you must consider whether you want paper tickets or just online ones. The cost of paper tickets can be as low as 20 cents each from some ERS providers, and they handle the printing and delivery for you. However, going this route does mean using more resources in the form of volunteer and employee hours.

Pricing will also depend on who you are marketing to, as well as competing raffles in your area. You can choose the ticket pricing you think will appeal to your ticket purchasers. A popular method is to sell in bulk as it gives the perception of value. For example: 1 for $5, 3 for $10, 10 for $25.

How to Promote Your Charity Raffle

In our opinion, the two most successful marketing strategies are eblasts and social media posts. Engage the audience you already have by posting and emailing often and stressing the deadline date. Most people procrastinate, but if they are constantly reminded, they are more likely to buy.

Here are some other promotion methods you can try:

  • Sell paper raffle tickets in addition to selling them online.
  • Radio ads
  • TV ads
  • Place ads on popular local websites and in newspapers

Charity Raffles Have Many Benefits, but They Can Be a Lot of Work

Applying and promoting charity raffles is time-consuming. That’s why it’s a great idea to hire a not-for-profit support service like Do Gooders. We can take care of the process for you so you can spend your time on other important work. Contact us today to discuss all of your raffle and fundraising needs.

Kathleen Lemieux, CFRE

Kathleen Lemieux, CFRE

Do Gooders

Empowering not for profits

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