‍Fundraising Games of Chance to Raise Funds for Charity

Fundraising Games of Chance to Raise Funds for Charity

Many nonprofits use events like games of chance and auctions to raise funds, but often without realizing that these activities are regulated and can actually be illegal in many states if not done correctly. So, that exciting poker night or silent auction that got everyone talking—make sure the talk isn’t about your nonprofit facing legal trouble.

Even when it's for a good cause, like a charity auction, it could bring unexpected problems for both donor supporters and nonprofits unless you understand and play by the rules. From fantasy leagues to casino nights, the relationship between nonprofits and these kinds of games is a tricky area that many people don't fully understand, and it's easy to accidentally step into legal trouble.

Introduction to Fundraising Games of Chance 

When it comes to these nonprofit fundraising events, it's key to wrap your head around what is meant by a "game of chance." Simply put, if you can spend more money to boost your chances of winning, that activity falls under the game of chance umbrella. In essence, the more tickets you snag for a raffle or bingo cards you grab during a bingo night, the higher your odds of winning become, classifying these activities as games of chance.

While games of chance can truly work wonders for your nonprofit organization on multiple fronts, these game of chance auctions and fundraising events aren't just about raising funds—they're magnets that draw in new donors to learn about what your charity stands for. ​Did you know charities in the U.S. and Canada rake in over a billion in donations each year through these game-based events? It's quite a big deal! 

But hey, while having fun is awesome, it's super important not to forget the rules. There are some regulations tied to these games, and skipping them could cause problems for your charity. 

So, here's the deal: if you've got a plan that works and sticks to all the rules, you're set for a fantastic fundraising event with plenty of tickets to sell.

Popular Fundraising Games of Chance

Here are five exciting fundraising event ideas to explore:

50/50 Raffle

Imagine a 50/50 raffle as your typical raffle but with a cool twist. Instead of having a set prize, you get to share a whopping 50 percent of the ticket sales with the lucky winner, while the other half goes towards the cause you're supporting. Nonprofits often run a virtual 50/50 raffle for about four to six weeks, and you can either make them a regular thing throughout the year or mix them up with other fundraisers.

So why go for a virtual 50/50 raffle? Well, picture this:

  • Everyone Gets It: A raffle is like the comfort food of fundraisers—familiar and loved by most donors.
  • Budget-Friendly: You get to keep raffle costs in check, making every dollar count toward your cause.
  • Team Player: This raffle plays well with others. You can seamlessly blend it with your other big fundraisers, creating a vibe that's both online and buzzing with excitement.
  • Easy-Peasy: If you're short on time and want a stress-free fundraiser, a raffle is your go-to. It practically organizes itself, giving you more time to focus on what really matters.


Let's dive into Sweepstakes—it's like a raffle but with a cool twist. What's the twist, you ask? Well, to get in on the action, people don't have to buy a ticket or toss in a donation. And here's the fun part—it's not even considered gambling in the U.S., so it's a green light in every state. Now, up in Canada, there's a bit of a catch—pure games of chance are a no-no. So, for a sweepstakes to fly, there's a little skill test involved. Usually, that means answering a question—turning it into a game of both luck and skill.

Why give sweepstakes a shot for fundraising?

  • Go Big or Go Home: Reach out to donors far and wide without the hassle of ticket-buying.
  • License-Free Zone: No need to deal with licenses and permits—less headache, more fun.
  • Prize Time: Get ready to hand out some awesome prizes and make someone's day.
  • Marketing Magic: Brace yourself for a bit of marketing magic—it's the secret sauce to make your sweepstakes the talk of the town. Get ready to spread the word!


Bingo, the timeless game that brings people together in a burst of excitement. As the host calls out numbers, players eagerly mark them off on their scorecards. The magic happens when someone completes a row—whether it's up, down, or diagonally—and shouts out that sweet word, "bingo!" It's not just a game; it's a social experience that lets organizations form real connections with the players.

Why go for a bingo fundraiser for your nonprofit? Well, here's the scoop:

  • Keep It Simple: If you're after a stress-free, no-fuss fundraiser that's quick and easy, bingo is your go-to.
  • Low-Key Investment: It's not going to break the bank. Bingo is perfect for those looking to fundraise without a big financial commitment.
  • One-Time Fun: Hosting a gala or another major fundraiser? Bingo is the perfect sidekick—a one-time interactive game that adds a splash of excitement to your nonprofit event.

Catch the Ace

Meet Catch the Ace, the game that's all about thrilling wins every week and chasing that growing jackpot. Here's the lowdown: You grab a ticket, pick your card, hoping it's the Ace of Spades. Win the weekly draw with the Ace, and boom, the jackpot is yours. If not, no biggie—the card's out, and the jackpot's gearing up for the next round.

Why Catch the Ace for your nonprofit?

  • Budget-Friendly Fun: No fuss with prize budgets; it's a piece of the ticket sales pie.
  • Switch It Up: Adds a cool twist for your donors already into traditional raffles like the 50/50.
  • Stand Out Move: Shine in a sea of 50/50s and be the talk of the town.
  • Long-Term Buzz: A full 52-week program keeps the excitement going week after week.
  • Investment Payoff: Sure, it needs time, resources, and some marketing magic, but trust us—it's a blast.
  • Weekly Cheers: Keep the vibe alive with weekly draws, more tickets sold, and a jackpot that's always on the upswing.

Video Game-Based Fundraisers

Video Game-Based Fundraisers, where gamers live-stream their epic gaming sessions, and you can join the fun by donating before or during the live show. It might sound a bit out there, but guess what? It totally works! Just look at GuardianCon—they pulled in a jaw-dropping $3.7 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in a single weekend.

Why Dive into a Video Game Fundraiser for your nonprofit?

  • Gamer Vibes: If your donor squad is all about gaming to raise funds, this is your golden ticket for your nonprofit.
  • Live and Unfiltered: Get ready for real-time action as gamers live-stream their adventures. It's like being there without leaving your couch.
  • Live Tech Adventure: Got the gear for live-streaming, or ready to dive in? You're all set to make it happen.
  • Youthful Buzz: Connect with the younger donors in a way that's not just fun but lets them actively be part of the action. It's not just a fundraiser; it's a live gaming party for a good cause!

Legal Considerations and Compliance 

Nonprofits can organize gaming events like raffles, bingo, poker tournaments, and casino nights to fundraise in many states. But, the catch is, the rules, licenses, and law are all over the map. Before diving in, it's crucial to check out what your state and local area require.

In most states, you'll need a state license for these charity gaming gigs. But, here’s the twist—each state has its own game plan. Some states issue separate licenses for different games – raffles, bingo, you name it. Hold up, it’s not just the state; your county or city might need permits too. If you're running various games at different spots, brace yourself for possibly needing more than one license.

Here’s the kicker: some states slice and dice their licenses based on the prize item, price, or player numbers. They might even give a break to smaller nonprofits with exemptions.

Now, in a few states like Alabama, Florida, Maryland, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming, state licenses aren't a thing. But, they've got their own set of rules to follow. Then there's Utah and Hawaii—no-go zones for nonprofits hosting gaming events. Although Hawaii might loosen up a bit for limited raffles under certain conditions.

Now, bagging that golden ticket for a gaming license for your nonprofit? You’ll need to check certain boxes. Stuff like having IRS tax-exempt status, being registered in your state, and a solid non-profit track record. And guess what? There's paperwork galore—applications, forms, fees, and documents like your incorporation papers, bylaws, officer lists, and all the event specifics. Oh, and the folks running the games might need to apply separately too.

Planning and Organizing a Game of Chance Charity Fundraiser 

Alright, let’s get this nonprofit fundraiser planned out like a pro! These ten steps will guide you through the process, ensuring your fundraiser is a hit from start to finish.

Setting Clear Goals

Before anything else, let’s define what success means to your organization. Pin down specific targets, like the amount of money you aim to raise, and consider broader objectives and ideas such as connecting with new donors or shining a spotlight on your cause.

Choosing the Perfect Event Type

Think about your donors and what they’d find super exciting. Consider where they live, what they love doing, and how the weather might impact your event. Remember, your goals should shape the kind of event you settle on, and whether it should be online or in-person.

Smart Budgeting Moves

It’s time to crunch those numbers! Take into account every possible expense for your fundraising event—from the venue to entertainment, food, and marketing materials. Oh, and don’t forget to explore potential sponsorships that could lighten the load and help you raise funds.

Forming Your Dream Team

Who’s going to take charge of what? Assign roles for various aspects like setting up the venue, reaching out to sponsors, and handling ticket sales. Clear responsibilities mean smoother sailing.

Marking Your Calendar

Now, let’s find that perfect fundraising date! Pick a day that gives you plenty of prep time and, if it’s an annual event, try to stick to a consistent schedule. Avoid dates that clash with major holidays or other big events.

Spreading the Buzz

It’s time to get the word out! Harness the power of emails, social media, and good old-fashioned flyers to reach your audience. Figure out where your donors hang out and tailor your marketing strategy accordingly.

Selling Those Coveted Tickets to Raise Funds

Let’s get those raffle tickets rolling! Offer different packages for tickets and make sure buying them is a breeze for your supporters. A smooth ticketing process makes everyone happy.

Prepping for the Grand Day

The stage is almost set! Coordinate with performers, deck out the venue, rally up your volunteers, and set up those charitable auction items. It’s all about those final touches before the main event.

Savoring the Eventful Day

Once the big day arrives, mingle with your guests, go live on social media, and soak in the good vibes before the play begins. Show your gratitude and have a blast—it’s your time to shine!

Following Up with Donors and Your Team

Even after the event, your work isn’t done! Send heartfelt thank-yous to everyone involved and gather feedback through surveys and email. This helps you spot what worked wonders and what tweaks you can make for an even more incredible play for the next event.

Planning a game of chance fundraiser that truly stands out demands meticulous planning. Stick to these steps, and you’ll host an event that not only raises money but also leaves a lasting impact!

Maximizing Revenue and Engagement 

Different fundraising methods and ideas have proven effective in generating revenue during events. Here are strategies to optimize each approach and achieve maximum fundraising outcomes.

Engage Sponsors Effectively

Seek potential sponsors early in the events planning phase and propose tiered sponsorship packages tailored to different budget levels. Clearly outline the benefits of sponsorship, emphasizing increased brand visibility throughout the event.

Strategize Ticket Sales

Set clear pricing and promote your event across various platforms, including social media, email marketing, and local publications. Offering early-bird or group discounts can incentivize early ticket purchases.

Elevate Live Auctions

Secure high-value auction items to attract substantial bids and consider employing a professional auctioneer to maintain an engaging atmosphere.

Curate Compelling Silent Auctions

Source items at different price points, organize them thematically, and present them attractively to encourage bidding. Employ mobile bidding technology for easy guest participation.

Optimize Raffles

Select desirable prizes that appeal to a wide audience and offer raffle tickets for sale during the event.

Craft Persuasive Fund-a-Need Campaigns

Establish clear fundraising goals and communicate the impact of donations through storytelling. Offer various donation levels and consider integrating mobile donation platforms.

Leverage Text-to-Donate

Promote text-to-donate options through social media and email campaigns. Provide clear instructions and dedicated contact information for seamless donations.

Harness Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

Encourage supporters to create fundraising pages and share them with their networks, and provide them with tools and resources to facilitate their involvement.

By strategically implementing these fundraising methods, your events can significantly contribute to your cause and create meaningful change within your community.

Ethical Considerations in Games of Chance Prizes 

Ethical considerations are pivotal in games of chance used for fundraising, fostering integrity and trust within communities.

Play With Transparency

Nonprofits organizing fundraising games of chance must maintain absolute transparency:

  • Clearly communicate game operations, winner determination, and fund allocation.
  • Build trust among participants and donors by openly discussing fund allocation.

Play With Fairness

Ensuring equal opportunities for all participants is crucial: 

  • Implement unbiased mechanisms for winning to avoid biases or favoritism.
  • Uphold fairness by ensuring an equal chance for every participant.

Responsible Gaming Practices

  • Adhere to laws and legal age restrictions and prevent gambling-related harm.
  • Offer support for individuals affected by gaming-related issues.

Ethical Marketing

  • Avoid manipulation or coercion in promotional strategies.
  • Truthfully represent the event's purpose and impact of contributions.

Consideration for Vulnerable Groups

  • Implement safeguards to protect at-risk individuals from potential harm.
  • Responsibly organize events while considering the impact on all participants.

Feedback and Improvement

  • Welcoming feedback allows nonprofits to address concerns and enhance ethical practices.
  • Commitment to continual improvement ensures ethical standards are upheld.

In essence, ethical success in fundraising games of chance involves transparency, fairness, responsible practices, ethical marketing, protection for vulnerable groups, and a commitment to continual improvement.

Case Study: A Successful Games of Chance Fundraiser

GuardianCon's Fundraising Success for St. Jude in 2019

GuardianCon, an annual video-game based event, achieved an extraordinary feat in 2019 by amassing a remarkable $3.7 million in support of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Initially spearheaded by Ben 'ProfessorBroman' Bowman, Cory 'KingGothalion' Michael, and Kevinxvision, this charitable initiative flourished into a monumental fundraiser due to the avid participation and support from the gaming community.

The contributions from Bungie's team, notably Dylan 'dmg04,' significantly bolstered the event. However, the pinnacle moment arrived during Ben 'DrLupo' Lupo's concluding streaming segment, culminating in an astounding $920,343.98 raised.

FAQs on Fundraising Games of Chance 

Are raffles and similar games legal for nonprofits to conduct?

Yes, in many states, nonprofits can legally organize raffles, bingo, poker, and other games, but regulations vary by location.

Can nonprofits make money from these game of chance events?

Yes, these events can be lucrative for fundraising, but the primary purpose should be charity support.

Are there innovative ideas for game of chance events that work well for fundraising?

Absolutely! Some nonprofits have success with themed event ideas, unique prize structures, or interactive gaming experiences.

What are some cost-effective game of chance ideas for smaller nonprofits?

There are many! Just to name a few ideas, there's online gaming, virtual raffles, or community game nights with donated prizes which can all be budget-friendly options.

What's the best way for nonprofits to learn about game of chance regulations in their area?

Contacting state gaming authorities or seeking legal advice from experts familiar with local regulations is highly recommended.

Are live auctions effective for nonprofits?

Yes, a live auction can be highly effective for nonprofit fundraising, especially when coupled with engaging auction items and a lively auctioneer.

Do fundraising games of chance events typically require a professional auctioneer?

Not always necessary, but a skilled auctioneer can add excitement and boost bids in a live auction event, enhancing the fundraising potential of nonprofit auctions.

What kinds of auction items are usually available at fundraisers with a game of chance and auctions to gather money?

Items up for auction at a live auction vary widely, including the potential to win unique experiences, travel vouchers, collectibles, and more, offering diverse benefits to guests while helping gather money for the nonprofit cause.

What's bidding like at a live auction fundraiser?

Placing a bid in a live auction event is like a friendly competition! Guests try to win items by offering a higher bid than others. They signal their bids to the auctioneer, and the highest bid wins the item when the bidding closes.

How can peer-to-peer fundraising tie into events involving a game of chance and wine tasting?

Peer-to-peer fundraising encourages individuals to fundraise on behalf of the nonprofit organization, potentially amplifying the reach of the charitable event and funds raised during game of chance events, including wine tastings.

What benefits do guests gain from attending fundraisers with a game of chance and auctions?

Guests benefit by giving support to a worthy cause and enjoying engaging events with chances to win exciting prizes and actively contribute to the fundraising efforts of the organization.

Where can guests learn about and find news about upcoming games of chance and auction events organized by the organization to raise money?

Guests can learn about and find event updates and news on the organization's website, social media pages, or when they subscribe to newsletters, aiming to raise money for the fundraising event.

What makes a Live Auction different from a Silent Auction?

Live Auctions are like real-time bidding battles led by an auctioneer. It's a lively show where people bid out loud, and things get pretty exciting.

How's the vibe at a Silent Auction compared to a Live Auction?

It's a more relaxed event. You browse items quietly, write your bids, and hope yours is the winning offer.

Can you give an example of a wine-themed Silent Auction?

Think elegant wine lots or private tastings. Guests discreetly write down their bids, creating a calm yet competitive scene over fantastic wine.

Fundraising Games of Chance: Final Remarks

As you step into the world of charity fundraising using games of chance, keep in mind that genuine success is built on honesty, trust, and following the rules.

Are you excited to take your fundraising to the next level? Dive into PayBee, your go-to all-in-one fundraising platform that effortlessly merges with your events. Elevate your fundraising efforts and make a real difference today!

Start Fundraising

I am a...

Looking for...

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Nonprofit Fundraising
Anastasia-Alexandra Nenova

Born and raised in South Africa, Anastasia-Alexandra is a Bulgarian writer and fighter. When she isn't writing, she's busy training or competing in Judo for South Africa. She's passionate about Judo where she is a 2nd Dan, other martial arts and fitness overall. Her dream is to qualify for the Olympic Games in Judo, and she's doing her best to turn that dream into reality.

Latest Articles


OneCause Hidden Fees and Charges

Read Article

Navigate the world of nonprofit fundraising solutions with our comprehensive article. Decipher the hidden fees eroding your budget, and compare industry leaders OneCause and Paybee. Learn how Paybee’s transparent pricing model, practical features, and low-cost and free options empower nonprofits to realize their fundraising potential. From seamless ticketing to fully fledged galas, Paybee stands alone as the most powerful fundraising event solution. Choose clarity, flexibility, and innovation - choose Paybee.


Event Fundraising Software Subscription: From Managing Events To Maximizing Your Fundraising 

Read Article

Our guide to event fundraising software subscriptions. Learn about top platforms, such as PayBee, and more. An in-depth look at useful features, pricing structure, and benefits. Learn how to evaluate and choose the right software, use it effectively, and boost donor engagement. Whether you're a nonprofit considering subscription models or navigating customization and integration, this article provides valuable insights to raise your fundraising strategy, make informed decisions, enhance your event management, and achieve greater success in your nonprofit fundraising events.


Unlocking Creative Raffle Prize Ideas: A Dive into Winning Raffle Prizes and Innovative Ideas

Read Article

Dive into the world of creative raffle prizes with Paybee, a seamless fundraising platform. Explore diverse prize ideas, from themed baskets to high-value items. Learn strategies, advantages, and IRS reporting for successful fundraising. Elevate your charity raffle with Paybee's support for an unforgettable campaign.