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50/50 Raffle or Chance to Win

June 21, 2012 - Author: Jenelle Taylor, CAI BAS

Ha, I got to chuckle today with one of my clients when she read my opinion on 50/50 raffles and e-mailed back:

No – wait – tell me how you really feel. =)

Clearly, it IS an issue I feel strongly about, as I had typed to her:

Why give half the money back???

That’s always the question, and the reason I don’t ever recommend it. I mean, there’s no logic to it. It’s collecting a pool of available disposable income from the room and then giving half away, almost like paying for consignment at 50%.


50/50’s have been around forever, and for anyone who doesn’t know, it refers to selling chances to win 50% of the cash pool that’s collected through ticket sales.

Setting aside the fact that “raffles” per se are illegal in many states

(check your state’s gaming statutes here), why give money back?


A smart fundraising strategy is to offer a desirable prize

that’s 100% donated and keep all the proceeds.


If you can’t get the right kind of item donated that will undoubtedly compel folks to try and win it, then at the very most, aim for a cost-to-net proceeds ratio below 30% (as in, paying $250 for an iPad which spurs  at least $950 in chance-to-win sales, netting $700 or more).


For this particular event, we already have 2 proven chance-to-win opportunities. Three would certainly be too many, and the cruise had a net of $2750 and iPad had a net of about $750, so those are clearly popular and serving their purpose of providing a low-end price point for folks to participate in the fun and the fundraising.


My client wrapped up her e-mail thanking me for the consultation and guidance:

 I knew you had a strong reasoning for why you didn’t like them, although a lot of places must do them since everyone keeps bringing them up.  To hopefully quell their desire for this “wonderful idea,” I will stress your point that if we have the cruise and the ipad – both proven successes – adding a third would dilute the mix and potentially bring in less income for the Gala.

I was at an event a few weeks ago that had one and I think there was only $75 to win –  a lot of work for $75.

Does your NPO (non-profit organization) do a 50/50? Have you analyzed the results in comparison to other chance-to-win options?

Agree or disagree with me today? Tell us in the Comments section below.

Categories: Consulting, Other Money Makers, Raffles/Chance Drawings - Tag: , , , , , , , ,