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6 Unique Online Fundraising Techniques for Your Nonprofit (Part 6 of 6)

Lori Halley 03 January 2008 2 comments

This post has been contributed by Lance Trebesch and Colt Lapham from TicketPrinting.com

6.  Online Raffles

Online raffle events present great possibilities to raise substantial funds for your organization.  It is possible to sell an astounding number of high priced raffle tickets for a high value item, or reach many small groups interested in unique, diversely priced, raffle items and bundles.  In addition to the great proceed generating opportunities of online raffles, you can also greatly to expand your email list by diligently gathering new participant information.

Five Steps for a Widely Successful Online Raffle

1. Gather Supporter Data and Develop Profiles

Gather as much data on your supporters as possible.  This information will aid in prize selection, considerations for prize donors, as well as auction item selection.  Collect needed data when surveying new supporters for your e-mail campaign, or by placing a simple survey on your homepage.  Keep in mind that collecting data that is specific to each supporter will allow you to send targeted e-mails informing them of future prize offerings they might find interesting. 
Analyze data on your supporters carefully.  Develop profile groups based on potential interest in particular types of raffle items.  Profiles should be determined by individual interests, past auction item purchases, amount spent on past raffle items and donations. 

2. Use Supporter Profiles for Donor and Prize Selection

Use your supporter group profiles to determine optimal raffle items or raffle item mixes that appeal to each supporter profile group.  Also, include data from past raffle item performance to aid in your selections.  An optimal prize mix should be derived from its ability to attract supporters and generate the largest amount of proceeds based on the size and nature of supporter profiles.  Obtaining these desired raffle items will be the challenging part.  Your success will ultimately depend on prior and future donor selection, your relationships with these donors, and the number of raffle items you are willing to purchase.

Small Items - Items with raffle tickets in the $1 to $20 range attract people that want to help out, but are not willing to purchase high priced raffle tickets or bid on large auction items.  Raffling smaller items will also generate more revenue than auctioning them.  The key to a successful small item online raffle is extensive supporter segmentation for item selection and promotion.

Large Items - Big incentives equal big returns.  If your online raffle events always focus on large, high value items that many people would be interested in, there is not nearly as much need for extensive profiling for prize selection and promotion.  With sufficient online exposure, this type of event will often gain viral attention, creating tremendous potential for raising substantial funds.  St. Madonna School, located in San Jose, conducted a raffle with a $1.8 million, 2800-square-foot dream home as the prize.  They set a benchmark to sell 26,000 tickets at $150 each to give the house away.  They fell short with only 19,137 tickets sold.  Despite this, they gave $1 million to the top winner and $141,000 to the remaining 319 winners, and still managed to raise $1 million for themselves.  This is a great example of the effective creation of the two basic elements needed for a viral effect - incentive to participate, and incentive to spread the word.

3. Promote Through Partnerships

The next logical step is to reach enthusiasts of your items beyond your supporters.  The best way to do this is to form joint ventures with websites that have visitors that may be interested in your raffle items.  For example, if one of your raffle items is an Alaskan ski trip, you may want to contact SkiCentral.com.
Email or call the organization and tell them that you are hosting a raffle featuring items of interest to their visitors.  Ask if they would be willing to send a notice to their e-mail list outlining the details of the raffle.  Tell them how they will be rewarded as a sponsor.  If you are adamant about receiving exposure from a high traffic Website that is not receptive to sponsorship, offer them proceed sharing opportunities.  You can also contact other nonprofits that may have supporters with similar interests to your organization.
Joint ventures like these not only present a cheap and very effective way to attract a number of participants interested in your upcoming raffle, but can also offer tremendous opportunities to expand your e-mail list and recruit new supporters for the future.  If your partners don’t mind, add their contacts to your online raffle e-mail list.

4. Use Your Blog to Promote

If your organization maintains a blog, be sure to blog about your upcoming raffle in the days before the event happens.  Also, reach out to other bloggers in your network and see if they are interested in sponsoring, donating, or participating.  They might even be willing to help publicize your event through their blog, or sell tickets.   

5. Track, Record, and Communicate

During and throughout your raffle event, track and record item donors, potential item donors, volunteers, sponsors, participants, and winners.  Weeks before the event, send personalized e-mails to sponsors and item donors telling them what they need to do to participate.  Also, outline the details of the partnership.  Be sure to include details on exactly how each partner will benefit.  Contact supporters with your targeted e-mail bulletins weeks before the drawing.  Remember to include details such as your organization’s mission, how the proceeds will be used, time the event will occur, and featured raffle items of particular interest.  Also, do not forget to include a note reminding supporters to spread the word.  Then, send a reminder a few days before the event, and a “last chance” notice when raffle ticket sales are near an end.  Once your event is over, be sure to thank everyone involved.  Also, remember to keep track of high and low earning items to add to your data for future prize selection. 

This is the end of our six part series on online fundraising.  Thank you for reading.  We hope our ideas will help your non-profit reach its future fundraising goals.

Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Published Thursday, 03 January 2008 at 2:32 PM


  • Michael Ben-Nes said:

    Wednesday, 09 January 2008 at 6:30 AM


    If you are interested in a new alternative for online fundraising, take a look at GiveStream ( http://www.givestream.com ). It offers a set of free and easy-to-use online fundraising and community-building tools that help nonprofits create their own branded easy giving center.

    Please let me know if you have any questions.

    michael (at) givestream (dot) com

  • Kelly said:

    Monday, 09 March 2009 at 11:45 AM

    Here's an example of online raffles at work, and in a manner that actually benefits ANY nonprofit who wishes to participate - it's pretty much the only model of its kind on the Internet.  http://www.i-raffles.org and http://www.charityraffles.org - both nonprofit funding mechanisms of the paws4people(TM) service dog foundation.

Sorry, this blog post is closed for further comments.

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