Online Fundraising
January 5, 2022

Fundraising with Catch the Ace: 6 Things You Should Know

To raise money, you need to spend money. The more you spend, the more you raise, right? Wrong. Enter Catch the Ace, an online charity raffle that's low-cost to run and yet brings in a great return on investment (ROI). 

In this article, we will take a detailed look at Catch the Ace and also share 6 of the most important things you need to know before you organize this type of raffle for your nonprofit. 

What are online charitable gaming-based fundraisers?

An online charitable gaming-based fundraiser refers to specific types of games run online to raise money for a charitable cause. Popular gaming fundraisers include 50/50 raffles, sweepstakes, and Catch the Ace

Related: An Introduction to Online Gaming-based Fundraising for Nonprofits

What is Catch the Ace?

Catch the Ace is known by many names—Chase the Ace or Queen of Hearts are just a couple of them. It is a progressive raffle in which a participant purchases a ticket for a chance to win in the weekly jackpot and also the progressive jackpot. When buying the ticket, the entrant also chooses a card from a standard deck of 52 cards. The goal is to catch the Ace of Spades.

This game may run for up to 52 weeks or until the ace of spades is caught. Each week, a draw is held where one ticket is randomly selected as the winning ticket. The person with this ticket wins a percentage of the week's ticket sales. At the same time, the card they pick is revealed.

If the card chosen is not the Ace of Spades, that card is removed from the deck and the progressive portion of the ticket sales is rolled over to the next scheduled draw. This means the progressive jackpot keeps growing each week. However, if the card is revealed to be the Ace of Spades, the person then also wins the progressive jackpot and the draw is concluded.

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6 things you should know about Catch the Ace

1. No limit on entries

A Catch the Ace raffle allows multiple entries. This is why the pricing model is set to encourage more ticket sales. Usually, the more tickets you buy, the lower the price per ticket. And the more tickets someone buys, the higher their chances of winning. 

2. Players get two chances to win

Every player has two chances of winning—the weekly jackpot made of the week’s sales and also the progressive jackpot, which is the accumulation of all the other progressive jackpots from the previous draws.

3. Chances of winning big increase with each draw

After each draw, if the card that was revealed was not the Ace of Spades, it is removed from the deck. This means that chances of catching the Ace of Spades, and winning the progressive jackpot, get better each week. Most Catch the Ace games run for 30 weeks or more, by which time (depending on the ticket prices) the progressive jackpot can potentially be worth millions. 

4. How the prize is split

Usually, 30% of each week’s ticket sales goes to the progressive jackpot, 20% to the weekly winner, and 50% to the nonprofit organizing the raffle. For instance, if in the first week you sold a total of $100,000 tickets, then $20,000 will go to the winner of the weekly draw, $30,000 to the progressive jackpot, and $50,000 to your nonprofit. Since the prize is made up of ticket sales, you don’t need to worry about setting a budget for the prize, lowering the initial setup cost. 

5. Rules you have to be aware of

Catch the Ace is a form of a raffle, and as such, it is treated as gambling—people have to pay (or put something on the line) to participate. So, it is a regulated game in most U.S. states and Canadian provinces. You will need a state or provincial license to organize this game. 

Usually, the license is valid for a year, requiring you to apply for a new one each year. The rules and regulations differ in most jurisdictions. To find out more about all the legal requirements, the state’s Attorney General's office is a good place to start in the U.S. while in Canada, you can find more information from the respective provincial Alcohol and Gaming Commission websites.

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

6. Fees associated with running Catch the Ace

Organizing a Catch the Ace raffle is cost-effective. Often, you will need to pay the licensing fee. Other costs to be dealt with are promotional and marketing-related as you may need to run ads on social media and other online channels. Also, there will be costs related to payment processing, email campaigns, software, etc. However, these will usually be minimal when compared to other forms of raising funds.

Case example: Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH) 

Catch the Ace Delivers $1.24MM for OFAH

OFAH had previously been promoting its annual conservation lottery to its 75,000 strong member base. This was a large and highly manual endeavor—lots of ticket books to print and mail and then lots of mailed back stubs to receive and process. After printing and mailing costs, but not factoring in extensive labor costs, it would net $600,000 in donations. 

Therefore, they were always on the lookout for new, innovative online fundraising programs that would get this type of result while also driving awareness. Finally, they discovered Ascend’s online weekly progressive CTA program and decided to get onboard.

OFAH’s CTA program ran for 24 weeks. Over 30% of the CTA players were net new to the database. The program generated over $1.24 million in ticket sales. It awarded $230,000 in weekly draws and a jackpot of almost $400,000 to the lucky Ace of Spades winner. After prizes, fees, seeding the initial pot and media spend the program netted the Federation $425,000. OFAH also invested $1,200-$1,400 in paid media every week, which drove an average of $7,000 in new sales. That’s an over 5:1 return on investment—and the organization did this with far less labor as compared to the manual ticket books.

View the case study

Your donors are the lifeblood of your organization. This is why you need to show them that you value their contribution. And rewarding them with prizes is one way of doing that. Not to mention, a program like Catch the Ace is a great way to attract donors who might not have paid attention to your cause while allowing you to raise more money.

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