Raffles can be a great motivator to get people to open up their wallets. Everyone loves the thrill of thinking they might win a really cool prize. And although effective by themselves, raffles can be a great way to raise more money at your fundraising event. Say you’re hosting a ticketed event or auction: selling raffle tickets at the door, table-to-table, or even online, can be an excellent (and easy) way to boost your bottom line.
What is a raffle?
At its simplest, a raffle is when you sell tickets with unique numbers on them. Each ticket’s other half (with the same number on it) gets placed in a bowl, barrel, or similar vessel, shaken up, and then someone pulls out a ticket and reads off the number. The purchaser with the corresponding ticket number wins a prize of some kind. We’ll go into some more detail about raffle prizes later. For now, here are nine nifty raffle game ideas to spice up your raffle and make your event even more memorable and fun.
9 Fun Raffle Game Ideas
People love a mysterious, valuable prize: no gag gifts here! Pick one of your great prizes to wrap up or put in a secure box, bag, jar, etc. You could offer this alongside prizes that they can see, especially if they’re of similar value and/or contents (this will help convince fence-sitters that it’s worth taking a chance on the mystery prize). For example, if they know every prize is sports memorabilia they might really want to try the mystery bag. Or if they see the values of all the other travel packages to bid on or buy tickets for, they’ll be very excited if you tell them that the mystery package is the biggest value of all.
Boost your ticket sales by telling participants that the winner will get to keep half the jackpot. If you sell $600 of tickets, your winner gets to keep $300 and your organization keeps the other $300. Make sure you tell people periodically how high the jackpot amount is getting to keep up interest!
This one is perfect for dinner fundraisers, mother’s day, or date-night-ish evening events. Ask a local florist if they can discount or outright donate roses for your fundraising event, then giveaway a rose with each raffle ticket sold. (We suggest you sell each rose for $20: it’s a fundraiser after all and roses aren’t cheap!) Each ticket sold will also be entered to win a prize (or several, if you have one grand prize and a few smaller ones). A rose raffle is particularly great if your fundraiser is a fancy gala where your guests can lean into the romance, or if your cause supports women’s issues.
This is a perfect raffle game for holiday fundraisers. Say you’re hosting something around Thanksgiving: hand out sheets of paper and pencils, ask your guests to close their eyes, and draw a simple scene. Tell them to first, draw a cooked turkey, then add a dish of mashed potatoes to the left. Now, draw a water glass (or wine glass, know your audience) to the right. Finally, draw a plate, knife, and fork below everything. Everyone’s drawings will get a big laugh as you go around and assign points based on whether their turkey is in the middle of the paper, if each addition is on the correct side of it, etc. This activity is best for smaller gatherings, although larger ones could have a captain of each table to assign points to each drawing. The winner from each table could be entered to win the raffle prize, or each person could get as many tickets as they had points, with the option to buy more, of course.
Wine Pull (or Sucker Pull, or Rose Pull, or Yarn Wall, etc.)
Say you have many donated bottles of wine, ideally a variety of types at different prices and from different countries or areas. There are two ways to do this: each could have a raffle ticket stuck to it or written on it and people can buy several bottles to improve their shot at the grand prize (and get lovely wine). Or, you could choose some bottles to be automatic prize winners as well as entering them to win the grand prize (everyone likes that game of chance). This raffle game is easy to customize to the theme of your event.
Heads or Tails
This raffle game is great for events with kids. Have everyone who purchased a raffle ticket stand up, then have your emcee flip a coin and ask everyone standing “Heads or tails?” Participants have to guess by putting their hands on their heads or their, well, tails. If they guessed incorrectly, they sit down. You continue until there’s only one winner left and they get the prize!
Guess How Many?
This is an old classic raffle game but it stays popular because it’s so customizable. You can put almost anything into a jar, barrel, tub and have people buy a ticket in order to submit a guess. You could even sell three chances at a guess per person (keep track so they can’t double back and buy more). Whoever gets closest to the actual number wins. Do this with Legos, pennies, candies, tennis balls, or whatever you can package up. The winner can even receive the jar as their prize or part of it.
This raffle game is a great addition to large fundraising events. Ask guests to empty their pockets and offer one ticket per coin to every guest. You could do this in addition to selling a limited number of tickets per person, so that the only way to get more chances to win is to scrounge up some pennies or dimes.
There are at least two different raffle games that go by this name, but here’s the one we think is the most daring. First, limit the number of tickets sold and set them at a much higher price than usual. For example, if tickets are $50 each, set out to sell exactly 100 of them (or 200, or 500, etc., but decide on a certain, achievable number in advance). Make sure everyone knows upfront that this is the jackpot, because this will be a 50/50 raffle, where the winner takes home half and the nonprofit keeps half.
When it’s time to call numbers you could really reverse things and call out all the numbers that didn’t win until you only have one winner left (gauge your audience’s patience for this against the number of tickets you sold). Even better, your organization can decide whether to keep and use that half of the jackpot, or to add it onto a second jackpot and keep people buying tickets for the new, larger 50/50 chance.
This event could garner a lot of media attention and social shares—you could even do a livestream if that’s in your wheelhouse.
What Makes a Good Raffle Prize?
There’s no one answer to this, not even “bigger is better.” If you price your raffle tickets accordingly, even small prizes can get lots of ticket sales. The key is to know your audience. Is your event open to the whole town? Then you might want to keep tickets affordable. A private event where you know “high-rollers” will be in attendance calls for a much larger prize or jackpot.
The real question is what can you offer for a prize? If you’re a nonprofit or charity you’re probably looking for donated items to raffle off. Be sure to stay polite and persistent: sometimes it’s hard to get the attention of business owners and other potential donors. Check out our list of tips on how to ask for donations so you can get the greatest prizes people will be excited to buy tickets for.
Did You Know You Can Run Raffles Online?
It’s not only possible it might be a lot easier. If you’re not hosting a live fundraiser or event you can still have a raffle: no need to buy those big rolls of paper tickets. Even if you are hosting a live, in-person event, not everyone carries cash these days, making it a challenge to sell tickets anywhere but your main check-in booth (unless you can arm every volunteer with a square reader). Selling your tickets online with raffle software like ours allows guests to buy raffle tickets from their phones. You can let people buy as many or as few tickets as you decide, put up leaderboards for people to see where things stand, and pick one or several winners randomly. Easy for them, easy for you.