Online Fundraising
November 1, 2021

5 Ways Gaming-based Fundraising Can Expand Nonprofit Reach

With over 1.5 million registered nonprofits in the United States (U.S.), standing out among donors is challenging. Most donors receive dozens of emails, phone calls, and in-person pleas asking for donations. So they have to choose which nonprofits to donate to. 

Proving your cause is worth supporting goes a long way. But so does finding innovative ways of asking for donations. This is where gaming-based fundraisers excel—they aren't a direct appeal for a donation. Instead, you ask donors to play a game for a chance to win. The more they play, the better their chances of winning, and the more money you raise. 

Gaming-based fundraising has been around for years. However, in more recent times, the increasing adoption of technology combined with the shift to virtual have led to the increased popularity of online fundraisers.

Asking for donations from the same audience can lead to donor burnout and donor fatigue. This is why you need engaging ways to attract new donors, keep them interested, and ensure there is a consistent flow of funds throughout the year. Gaming-based fundraising allows nonprofits to raise funds in a fun and profitable way.

In this article, we will look at how gaming-based fundraising can expand your nonprofit's reach and multiply the amount of money you raise.

What is online charitable gaming?

Online charitable gaming refers to any form of gaming done online to raise funds for a nonprofit or a charitable institution. Online charity raffles and sweepstakes are some of the most popular forms of gaming-based fundraising.  

50/50 Raffles: People obtain digital numbered tickets, each of which has a chance of winning a cash prize. The winnings are usually a percentage of the total funds collected through the sale of tickets. The remaining amount goes to the non-profit or charity organizing the event. One of the main reasons that makes online charity raffles so attractive is that donors get a chance to win money while supporting a cause. 50/50 raffles are a great option for nonprofits whose fundraising strategy and goals have a state or provincial geographic focus. 

Sweepstakes: They resemble raffles in a few aspects: sale of tickets, winner selection and prize distribution. A key area where they differ is that to enter a sweepstake, a participant doesn’t necessarily have to donate—this is the primary reason why sweepstakes are not considered as gambling and are permitted across all U.S. states. They are monitored by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to prevent abuse and unnecessary scams. If national and/or global exposure via social channels, websites, and email campaigns is integral to your fundraising and marketing strategy, then sweepstakes might be an option to consider.

Catch the Ace: This is known by many names—Chase the Ace or Queen of Hearts are just a couple of them. It is a weekly online and offline multiple-draw lottery that runs for up to 52 weeks or until the Ace is discovered. The winner selected in each weekly draw gets a chance to win a percentage of the proceeds from the sale of tickets from one draw as well as the progressive (cumulative) jackpot by choosing one playing card from a single deck of 52 playing cards. If the card selected is not the Ace of Spades, that card is removed from the deck and the progressive prize portion of the ticket sales for that draw is rolled over into the progressive jackpot for the next scheduled draw.

Related: Fundraising 101: Difference Between Online Charity Raffles and Sweepstakes

Scale up your fundraising game.

Get all your questions answered and learn how it all works.

How to expand nonprofit reach with online charitable gaming

Most nonprofits steer clear of experimenting with new fundraising strategies—the pressure to keep costs down compels them to stick to tried and tested methods. However, know that online fundraising is unlike other fundraising methods—online games/events are easy and cost-effective to set up, and demand very little financial and time investment. 

Here are some of the key reasons why gaming fundraisers are proving to be so popular:

1. Winning money is attractive

According to polls, about half of Americans take part in lotteries, meaning there are about 163 million people each year ready to take part in your online charitable game. We have all seen people become instant millionaires after hitting the jackpot. The prospect of winning large sums of money makes people want to try their luck, thus organically boosting interest and engagement for your campaign while promoting your cause. 

2. Players get a chance to do good

Research has shown that 69% of the population gives, meaning the majority of the population is already donating. What online charitable gaming does is incentivize the giving. If they donate, whether they win or not, their money goes towards a charitable cause. So winning is like a bonus. This has proven to be a powerful motivator for people who already take part in raffles as well as those who donate. Instead of playing in for-profit lotteries, charitable raffles and sweepstakes seem to be much better options.

3. Helps you reach a wider audience with a state or provincial license

To be able to run an online charity raffle, you need to get a license. Most U.S. states or Canadian provinces provide state or provincial raffle licenses, allowing you to extend your reach beyond a single town or city. This ensures you have access to a greater pool of people to tap into and solicit donations from. 

Related: Regulatory Guidance for U.S. States and Canadian Provinces and Territories

4. Attract younger donors

Online gaming tends to attract a younger demographic. Studies have shown that approximately 70% of 20- and 30-year olds buy at least one lottery ticket a year compared to 45% of seniors aged 70 or older. However, research also suggests that it’s mostly the older people who give. This means that while the younger population has the spending power, they aren’t necessarily donating. Charitable gaming gives you a chance to attract this segment of the population, thus expanding your reach.

5. Allows you to fully leverage social media for promotions

Websites like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter have changed philanthropy, allowing small nonprofits that can’t afford traditional promotional tools to have the same reach as bigger nonprofits. Social media is economical and allows you to make changes to promotions on the fly. And more importantly, it allows you to reach millions of people with a laser-sharp focus, allowing you to specifically target the promotions of your charitable campaigns to people who are more likely to purchase tickets.

Related: How to Use Social Media to Maximize Return on Investment (ROI) from Fundraisers

Over the past year and a half, online charitable gaming has immensely grown in popularity. An increasing number of nonprofits and charities are looking to fundraise with online charitable games such as raffles and sweepstakes. Those that don’t adapt to this growing trend are likely to be left behind. So, instead of waiting on the sidelines, it’s time to make a move with an engaging virtual fundraiser.

Get a monthly update from Ascend