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What is a raffle ticket drawing?

A raffle ticket drawing is a type of lottery where participants buy numbered tickets for a chance to win a prize. The winner is determined by randomly drawing a ticket number at the end of the event. Raffles are commonly used as fundraising events by charities, schools, churches, and other community organizations. They offer the excitement of a random drawing along with the satisfaction of supporting a good cause.

How do raffle drawings work?

Raffle ticket drawings involve the selling of numbered tickets which are then entered into a random draw to determine the winner. Here is a typical process:

  • The organizers choose prizes to be raffled off, which may include cash, gift cards, event tickets, baskets of goods, or big-ticket items like cars or vacations.
  • Tickets are printed with sequential serial numbers. Prices are set per ticket, often $1-$20 each.
  • Tickets are sold at the fundraising event, through presales, or both. Sales may last days, weeks, or months leading up to the drawing date.
  • Drawing dates allow time for maximum ticket sales. The number of prizes may be determined by sales thresholds.
  • On the drawing date, ticket stubs are collected and placed into a barrel, box, or raffle drum. Mixing ensures a random draw.
  • For large raffles, a neutral party may draw tickets and verify results.
  • The first ticket drawn wins the top prize, the next wins the second prize, and so on until all prizes are awarded.
  • Winners must show their ticket stubs to claim their prizes. Alternates may be drawn in case of no-shows.

Raffles rely on an element of chance, but follow organized rules. Prizes, drawing dates, and procedures are established upfront to ensure fair odds for participants.

Are raffle drawings legal?

Raffle legality depends on state and local gambling laws. In most of the United States, nonprofit organizations can hold raffles using the following guidelines:

  • The raffle must be for fundraising purposes, not private profit or commercial gain.
  • The nonprofit must register with the state if required.
  • Tickets may only be sold within state borders.
  • There are caps on cash prizes or the overall raffle value in some states.
  • Proper permits must be obtained and all winners should be eligible under state law.

Some states have tighter restrictions or do not allow nonprofits to hold raffles at all. Churches often have more leeway to hold small raffles without gaming licenses. Raffles with very high ticket prices or prizes may be classified as illegal private lotteries. It is important for organizations to research their state Charitable Gaming Division rules before conducting a raffle fundraiser.

Are raffle tickets taxable?

Tax rules vary on raffle tickets and prizes:

  • Purchased tickets are not tax deductible. Their cost is not a charitable contribution for buyers.
  • Nonprofits pay no tax on raffle ticket sales revenue.
  • Prizes and their fair market value are taxable income to winners.
  • Winners are responsible for applicable federal and state taxes owed.
  • For prizes over $600, the nonprofit must collect winner’s identification and SSN to prepare IRS reporting forms.

If raffle prizes are donated to the nonprofit, the donor may be able to claim their value as a charitable deduction. Consult a tax advisor on individual circumstances.

Why do nonprofits use raffle fundraisers?

Raffle drawings have a number of benefits that make them popular with nonprofit groups:

  • Generate significant revenue – Even small tickets sales add up, especially with big ticket incentives. Popular raffles can earn hundreds of thousands for a cause.
  • Engage community support – Buying tickets allows many people to get involved beyond just donors. Small purchases fit most budgets.
  • Create exciting interest – The chance to win big prizes captures attention. Suspense builds as the drawing nears.
  • Add event participation – Raffles encourage attendance when held at galas, banquets, festivals and other events.
  • High profit margins – Low overhead costs mean most money raised goes directly to programs after prizes are awarded.
  • Promote awareness – Ticket sales increase exposure of the nonprofit to potential new supporters.

Successful raffles require upfront planning, volunteer engagement, community outreach, and adherence to all legal requirements. Done right, they are an effective way for charitable organizations to generate funds.

What are some popular types of raffle prizes?

Raffle organizers get creative with prizes to attract buyer interest. Different prize options seen at many charity events include:

  • Cash – Top prizes from $100 to $1 million jackpots. Overall cash pools depend on projected ticket sales.
  • Cars – New autos or classic vehicles appeal to many. May be donated by dealerships.
  • Vacations – All-inclusive getaways and airline tickets to exotic destinations.
  • Experience packages – VIP access to concerts, sporting events, awards shows.
  • Gift cards – From top retailers and restaurants. Easy to procure.
  • Gift baskets – Themed assortments of specialty foods, wines, spa products.
  • Home electronics – Game systems, TVs, tablets, and appliances for the home.
  • Jewelry – Diamonds, gold, silver, watches. High per ticket value.

Bigger ticket sales allow nonprofits to offer more valuable prizes. But even low-cost items can incentive buying if displayed attractively. Themed prize packages also boost interest.

What are best practices for raffle management?

Well-run raffles take work but achieve better results. Some key tips include:

  • Obtain necessary permits and follow all regulations.
  • Price tickets affordably to encourage volume sales.
  • Promote early and often through social media, email, and press releases.
  • Offer incentives for top ticket sellers to gain their support.
  • Give clear event details like drawing location, date, time, and prize claim requirements.
  • Secure desirable prizes from reputable donors.
  • Account for all ticket numbers printed to ensure accurate drawing results.
  • Have a lawyer review raffle rules and official paperwork to limit liability.
  • Be transparent about use of funds raised to build community trust.

Raffle management takes time yet yields valuable funds. Many nonprofits enlist a dedicated raffle committee to share the workload. Experienced volunteers can streamline the process year after year.

What are some creative ideas to make raffles more successful?

Smart strategies can boost raffle fundraising. Ideas to improve results include:

  • Partner with local businesses on prize donations and ticket sales.
  • Add games and activities at the raffle event to grow participation.
  • Offer early bird discounts to incentivize advance ticket purchases.
  • Conduct social media contests for free tickets to gain followers.
  • Introduce pull tabs and raffle boards for impulse sales at the event.
  • Partner with radio stations for free promotion and celebrity guest appearances.
  • Stage SMS text-to-win mini raffles before the main drawing.
  • Set sales goals and share progress to generate a competitive spirit.
  • Make the raffle drawing a bigger experience with food, music, and attendance prizes.

Creative enhancements make the raffle more engaging and exciting. Nonprofits can try new ideas while honoring traditions that have worked well in the past.

How can technology help manage raffle sales and promotions?

Today’s software offers many features to streamline raffle administration:

  • Online ticket sales – Websites allow sales beyond the event itself for more revenue.
  • Mobile sales – Text-to-give campaigns and QR codes placed on posters or table tents facilitate impulse buys.
  • Payment processing – Software integrates with PayPal, Stripe and other payment gateways for credit card sales.
  • Donor management – Collect participant contact info and track ticket numbers purchased.
  • Email and SMS – Send confirmations, reminders, and promotional messages by text or newsletter.
  • Sales reporting – Review real-time sales activity and demographics.
  • Digital ticketing – Email printable or scannable tickets to customers instead of paper.

Raffle technology removes manual work so organizers can better focus on marketing and operations. Cloud-based programs offer robust features with no software to install.

How can you increase security and transparency in raffle drawings?

Measures to ensure honest drawings include:

  • Have a reputable CPA firm handle monies collected and prize payments.
  • Assign oversight to a neutral community leader not affiliated with the nonprofit.
  • Conduct drawings openly in front of event attendees.
  • Use clear raffle drums that allow public visibility.
  • Perform multiple mixing spins before drawing tickets.
  • Have winners verify IDs and show ticket stubs to claim prizes.
  • Post rules clearly and stick to the procedures announced.
  • Report raffle proceeds and expenses accurately afterwards.

Integrity protects the nonprofit’s reputation and ability to operate future raffles. Handled ethically, raffles can become a sustainable annual fundraiser.

How can you get volunteers excited to sell raffle tickets?

Volunteer recruitment tips include:

  • Offer incentives like prizes or cash commissions on sales.
  • Appeal to their desire to support the organization’s mission.
  • Make it social by organizing teams and competitions.
  • Give them materials and training to be effective salespeople.
  • Set up an online portal they can use for ticket management and promotions.
  • Recognize top sellers at the time of the drawing.
  • Make it easy to participate on their own schedule.
  • Share stories of beneficiaries who are helped by their fundraising.

People want to know their efforts make an impact.ffent shows of support and gratitude keep volunteers engaged.

What are some common raffle fundraising mistakes to avoid?

Watch out for these missteps:

  • Failing to understand all legal requirements upfront.
  • Setting unrealistic financial goals beyond likely sales.
  • Procrastinating on launch and promotions until the last minute.
  • Making ticket prices and prize values misaligned.
  • Not documenting ticket numbers for the drawing audit trail.
  • Letting ongoing event sales delay the drawing.
  • Selecting complex prizes that are hard for winners to redeem.
  • Neglecting to collect winner data for tax reporting.

Careful planning and organization prevents many headaches. Experienced nonprofits rely on checklists to ensure they follow proper procedures.


Raffle drawings provide a time-tested fundraising model for nonprofits when executed lawfully and ethically. Ticket buyers get the excitement of participating in random chance drawings. At the same time, deserving charities receive support to sustain their missions. New technology and creative promotions keep the raffle relevant. With the proper upfront work, raffles engage communities in giving back while offering the thrill of winning big.