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Charity Sweepstakes or Raffles—Which is the Better Nonprofit Fundraiser?

Sweepstakes are easier than raffles. There. We said it. Not that raffles aren’t terrific fundraising tools—the problem is that, due to raffle laws, they aren’t accessible to all nonprofits. When you think of sweepstakes, big, nationwide for-profit brands might leap to mind. However, as we’ll explain below, charity sweepstakes are actually a super alternative for nonprofits that can’t host raffles due to state laws.

Why Charity Sweepstakes Are a Great Option Over Raffles

Whether virtual, in-person, or hybrid, charity raffles are an effective way to raise money for your nonprofit (case in point, the $9,420,506 raffle organizers on Eventgroove have earned for their causes since November 2019). However, raffle laws vary from state to state—in several states (13, the last time we checked), online raffles are flat-out illegal. Furthermore, all raffles are 100% against the law in Alabama, Hawaii, and Utah. Thus, lots of nonprofits can’t even run a raffle draw, or, if they can, there are so many restrictions that it’s too much of a hassle. The reason raffles are so high maintenance is that they’re considered gambling since raffle participants pay for the chance to win.
On the other hand, charity sweepstakes are legal in almost all 50 states. They are not considered gambling because participants aren’t required to pay an entry fee. We know you’re asking yourself, “Why on earth would a person pay anything when they don’t have to?!” When it’s for a good cause, people are more than willing to donate (check out this article about the psychology behind charity). There’s proof of that in the numbers, too. The average sweepstakes revenue on Eventgroove is 59% higher than what we typically see with charity raffles.
“One misconception we hear regularly relates to sweepstakes’ free Alternate Method of Entry. Organizers generally worry that people won’t buy entries if they can get them for free,” states Cynthia Culver, Eventgroove’s Head of Customer Success. “Eventgroove doesn’t advertise or publicly list fundraisers, meaning organizers control the audience. The truth is that the majority of an organization’s audience believes in the cause and wants to support it. There is great potential in leveraging this confidence.”
Benefits of Charity Sweepstakes vs. Raffles
Charity sweepstakes are scalable outside of your geographic location because they are not considered gambling and thus legal. In other words, you are not limited by your state’s borders! Plus, they’re perfectly legal online, which means your fundraiser is open to everyone in the country. Sweepstakes also offer the possibility to expand your fundraiser internationally as they’re legal in many countries.

Things to Keep In Mind When Running a Charity Sweepstakes

The following points help illustrate how a charity sweepstakes is different from a charity raffle:
  • Entries: All purchased tickets in a sweepstakes have a chance to win any prize.
  • Official Rules:  Your sweepstakes must have official rules that detail the terms of the campaign. When you use our fundraising platform for your campaign, legally compliant official rules for each sweepstakes. are built into each sweepstakes. Plus, the rules cover a worldwide drawing where people can pay the entry fee to win any prize listed on your fundraising page.
  • Alternate Method of Entry: For a sweepstakes to be legal, you must offer a free entry option. We find that most people are willing to donate since the cause is charitable. Those who enter for free are still introduced to your charity and cause.
  • Types of Drawings: You cannot run a 50/50 drawing or a drawing in which different entry donations are assigned to specific prizes (as in a basket raffle). In a sweepstakes, every entry has an equal chance of winning any of the prizes.
  • Terminology: Be careful never to use the word “raffle” when referring to your charity sweepstakes.

Is a Charity Sweepstakes Right for Your Nonprofit?

We’ve put together a simple breakdown to help you determine which option is right for your nonprofit. If you’d like more details, grab the full sweepstakes vs. raffles cheat sheet.

How to Run a Charity Sweepstakes Fundraiser

Sweepstakes must be run online, and you can’t include physical entries. In addition, sweepstakes winners must be chosen using a random number generator. This is where a fundraising platform enters the chat. There are several options out there from which to choose! We’d love for you to consider Eventgrove, and to that end, here’s a little about why we’re great for running a charity sweepstakes. Our all-in-one fundraising and events platform makes setting up your charity sweepstakes website a snap. All you have to do is follow the prompts to create your nonprofit’s unique fundraiser. Your sweepstakes campaign is automatically equipped with an auto-number generator for winner selection and the necessary official rules to keep things legal. To see how easy it is to set one up and to get a feel for all the promotional, analytics, and management tools that are at your fingertips, have a look at our quick how-to video:

What Sort of Prizes Work Best?

Similar to raffles, your fundraiser’s goal and target audience should factor into the prizes offered. Eventgroove sweepstakes organizers have given away everything from cars to gift baskets! Cynthia, our Head of Customer Success, offers this advice for any nonprofit hosting a sweepstakes, “Big ticket prizes may seem like a risk for an organization to invest in, however, if marketed well, the proceeds will compound.”

Get Started!

At Eventgroove, we’re all about making things easier. In the ease-of-use department, a sweepstakes campaign comes out on top. Charity sweepstakes offer numerous benefits and may be a better option than raffles. Not only are sweepstakes campaigns easy to set up and run, but they also have the potential to reach a wider audience. So, we boldly assert that charity sweepstakes are better than raffles and encourage your nonprofit to give one a try!

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