7 Creative Variations for Your Fundraising Raffle

For those guests who want to take a chance, you might want to include some kind of raffle. The best raffle items bring in bigger donations than the raffle prize would have made in the auction alone.

Before settling on the standard raffle format however, consider these variations to give your guests a new experience.

Best-of-Live Raffle

How It Works

  1. Sell a limited number of tickets during the Silent Auction for either $50 or $100.
  2. Have an honored guest or emcee draw the winner right before the beginning of the Live Auction.
  3. Let the winner gets to pick any item they wish out of the Live Auction.

Pro Tips

  • Make sure that the total amount raised by the sale of raffle tickets will more than offset the fair market price of the most expensive item in the Live Auction. If the most expensive item would have sold for $5,000, you might sell 100 tickets at $100 each for a total income of $10,000.
  • Talk to donors of Live Auction items to see if they would be willing to donate the item a second time if their donated item is picked as the Best-of-Live prize.
  • It is possible to set limits on the Best-of-Live Raffle. For example, if you are a school and have class projects, you can restrict the winner to anything except class projects. You can also limit the choice to only items of equal or lesser value than the amount raised in raffle sales.

50/50 Raffle

How It Works

  1. Sell as many raffle tickets as you can.
  2. Tally the total revenue.
  3. Draw a ticket, and award the winner half the total proceeds.

Pro Tips

  • Tickets for this raffle can be sold for any price that is legal in your state, and the goal is to sell as many tickets as possible.
  • Offer price advantages to people who buy tickets in bulk.
  • The winner does not necessarily need to be present to win, and you could even sell tickets well in advance of the event.
  • If you’re lucky, the winner will donate back their winnings to your cause!

Bucket Raffle

How It Works

  1. Sell bidders a long strip of raffle tickets.
  2. Let bidders place tickets in buckets, boxes, or pots that represent each available prize.
  3. Pull a ticket from each bucket and announce the winners.

Pro Tips

  • Raffle items of different values so participants can choose whether to take a long shot at a high-value item, like a weekend getaway, or increase their odds by vying for, say, a hat.
  • Draw multiple winnings for the low-value items. The more winners at the end of the night, the better, even if they win something small.

Diamond Bar

How It Works

  1. Etch 100 champagne glasses with your event logo or your organization’s logo.
  2. Wrap a felt bag around the stem of each glass. All but one of the bags contain a cubic zirconium with the exception being a real diamond.
  3. Set all 100 glasses, full of champagne or sparkling cider, out on a table, and sell the glasses for $25, $50, or $100 each.
  4. Set up an “Appraisal Station” for a jeweler to examine each person’s stone to identify the real diamond.

Pro Tips

  • Partner with a local jewelry store who can upsell participants to buy the matching earing or necklace, in exchange for donating the diamond and cubic zirconiums.
  • Put the “Appraisal Station” by the cocktail bar or other places you want to drive traffic.
  • If you can’t get a jeweler onsite, number the bags to identify the winner.
  • Limit the number glasses you sell and increase the price. Sell 200 glasses at $50/glass, and you’ve done well!

Opportunity Boards

How It Works

  1. Collect the many gift certificates you procure that will not display well on a silent auction table.
  2. Pin certificates of similar value to the same board. For example, certificates with values from $50 to $100 can be combined on the same board.
  3. Participants can buy anything on a board for a fixed price. Items on the $50-$100 board can each be purchased for $50.

Pro Tips

  • Let bidders give their bid number to a volunteer standing by the board so they can pay for the certificate at the end of the event.
  • Don’t pin hard-to-read certificates to the board. Copy the pertinent information to custom cards to improve legibility and swap in the real certificate upon purchase.
  • Create a version of the Opportunity Board that ties in with your theme. Some themes we have seen that work well are ‘‘Angel Boards’’ (tied to a holiday theme), where the guests selected their certificate by placing an angel sticker with their bid number on it, and ‘‘Star Boards’’ tied to a Hollywood theme.

Balloon Sales

How It Works

  1. For each gift certificate you procure, put a slip of paper representing it in a helium balloon.
  2. Sell the balloons for $25, $50, and $100. Put certificates worth $25 to $50 in the $25 balloons, certificates worth $50 to $100 in the $50 balloons, and those worth $100 and up in the $100 balloons. Each denomination is color-coded.
  3. Guests pop the balloons to see what they won.

Pro Tips

  • Pin your balloons to a board and let guests throw darts at them. You may color code the balloons based on the ones holding the most valuable certificates.
  • Alternatively, instruct everyone to pop their balloons at the same time. It creates quite the fun moment!

Treasure Chest

How It Works

  1. Fill a safe, treasure chest, or other locked box that matches your theme with valuable items.
  2. Sell keys that all look the same to your guests for a price, such as $25 per key.
  3. Over the course of the Live Auction, people will try their luck at unlocking the Treasure Chest.

Pro Tips

  • Do NOT allow anyone to test one of the keys in the lock until all keys are sold.
  • Offer more than one treasure chest or consolation prizes.
  • Match the “treasure chest” to the theme of your event. For example, use a locked piece of luggage as the treasure chest if your event is travel themed.

Since raffles are considered a gaming activity, please make sure you follow all the rules and regulations.


This post is adapted from The Big Book of Benefit Auctions by Jay R. Fiske and Corinne A Fiske.

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A nationally recognized benefit auctioneer and consultant, Jay Fiske has helped raise millions of dollars for a wide variety of organizations. Additionally, he authored The Big Book of Benefit Auctions.