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

Sweepstakes are easier than raffles. There. We said it. While raffles are a powerful fundraising tool, they aren’t always accessible due to raffle laws.

You might think that sweepstakes are just the domain of big, nationwide brands who want to conduct far-reaching promotional drawings. 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, raffles of any kind are 100% against the law in Alabama, Hawaii, and Utah. Thus, lots of nonprofits can’t even host a raffle draw, or, if they can, there are restrictions that make doing so a hassle.

Wondering why raffles are high maintenance? Raffles are a game of chance in which participants pay for the chance to win, which is a form of gambling. Therein lies the rub.

On the other hand, charity sweepstakes are legal in just about 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 all 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 because of their legality. You are not limited by your state’s borders and 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 the main difference between a charity raffle and a charity sweepstakes:
  • 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. The good news is that Eventgroove Fundraising provides built-in, legally compliant official rules for 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 to participate since the cause is charitable, and 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 a simple breakdown together 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.

Our all-in-one fundraising and events platform and ready-made campaign templates make setting up your charity sweepstakes website a snap.  All you must 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 definitely comes out on top. Additionally, charity sweepstakes have the power equal to—and may exceed the money raised by—raffles, hence our earlier assertion that sweepstakes may indeed be a better option than raffles for many nonprofits.

Ready to give a charity sweepstakes fundraiser a whirl? Create yours now! Our all-in-one fundraising platform and friendly customer service team are ready to help. If you’d rather learn more, please feel welcome to visit Eventgroove or schedule a quick demo. We’d be delighted to show you around and answer any questions.

Want to see Eventgroove in action?

We’d love to show you! Schedule a one-on-one demo with our expert sales team.

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