Alternatives to Raffle Events

During our virtual symposium last week, we received many questions about raffles. While this may seem like an easy way to fundraise when everything is virtual, there are two reasons why GiveSignup | RunSignup is currently unable to allow raffles on our platform:

  1. Payment processors do not allow gambling activities. Raffles – even those for charity – fall under this broad category of gambling activities. As a payment facilitator, GiveSignup | RunSignup is required to follow payment processor rules.
  2. Complex state and local legislation around raffles. Some states do not allow any raffles for any purpose. Many states allow raffles for nonprofits but only with a license, and oftentimes with nuanced regulations and taxation. 
    1. The Council of Nonprofits has a good article that explains these complex raffle rules
    2. The IRS Publication 3079 is a good explanation for a federal perspective on tax exempt organizations gaming. 
    3. Harbor Compliance has a good set of links to each state’s rules.

Although we are unable to allow nonprofits to host raffles on GiveSignup | RunSignup today, we are working with our payment processors to see if there is a way to allow 501c3 organizations with the appropriate permissions and licenses to host raffles where 100% of proceeds are donations. 

There are endless fun, creative, and easy ways your organization can raise money in this virtual environment. Check out this list of the top six virtual ways our nonprofits are successfully engaging with their supporters while raising money and rewarding donors, attendees, and participants with prizes.

  1. Fundraising or Donation Competition: Your nonprofit can create a fundraising competition and award a prize to the top fundraiser with GiveSignup’s free standalone fundraising campaigns or as part of a virtual fundraising event. Alternatively, you can set prizes for fundraising milestones like May the Course Be With You. By launching a donation competition, you can offer a prize for every donor at different donation levels. Our flexible donation levels and free websites give you the ability to feature different tiers of prizes.
  1. Guessing Games: How many pieces of candy are in this jar? is an example of a fun and easy guessing game you can play with supporters. You can easily set this up by creating a ticket event and allow attendees to guess the number of pieces with ticket questions. Check out this website for a guessing game that 4 Words Foundation hosted last year.
  1. Virtual Trivia Night: A virtual trivia night is a fun and low overhead way to bring supporters together while raising money and awarding a prize to the top team. You can easily tie this event to your mission by adding questions related to your nonprofit’s mission. GiveSignup makes it easy for you to sell tickets, collect donations, and send an email with your event’s Zoom link to attendees. HiTOPS is planning a free virtual trivia night with donations in 2021.
  1. Virtual Food & Drink Events: Who says a happy hour has to be in person? Nonprofits are hosting fun and interactive virtual happy hours to raise money. You can easily add in games and competitions as part of your happy hour and award prizes to the winners. The El Paso Holocaust Museum hosted a successful Margaritas & Munchies event and the Mustard Seed Education Foundation is holding an activity-filled Cinco de Manhattan’s virtual taco event. A virtual charcuterie night – I’m doing the GRAZE! – is being hosted to raise money for BVRMC’s cancer patients who have uninsured expenses.
  1. Photo Contest: Use GiveSignup | RunSignup’s free photo platform to allow your participants and attendees to upload photos from your virtual, hybrid, and in-person events. Your nonprofit can pick the best photos and host a voting contest – best photo wins a prize! We’ve also seen nonprofits host the voting as a ticket event with $1 tickets for 1 vote. A great example is Atlanta PALS Pet Cotillion and best pet voting competition.
  2. Virtual Challenge Fundraising Campaigns: Create a virtual challenge as a unique virtual fundraising campaign to raise money for your nonprofit and engage your supporters. Offer prizes for the top participant – whether that’s most miles logged, most books read, or greatest number of good deeds accomplished.
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