Canada’s first nationwide 50/50
One organization decided to double down on fundraising efforts.
In July, the Canadian Olympic Foundation (COF) launched Canada’s first multi-provincial 50/50 raffle. Dubbed “Team Canada 50/50,” it aims to raise money to train the next cohort of Canadian Olympians. With prices ranging from $10 to $50, players across all provinces and territories except Newfoundland could purchase tickets online.
The launch of the Team Canada 50/50 draw coincided with a historic Olympic push: Ottawa sent 371 athletes to the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, the largest delegation since the 1984 Los Angeles Games. In a radio interview earlier this month, Cindy Yelle, a 1984 Olympic swimmer who is now CEO of the COF, said that the path to the Olympics was a “long road,” characterizing athletes’ Olympic dream as a collective effort.
It’s a sentiment shared by Michael Kramolc, the Manager of Ascend’s Customer Success Team. For six months, he had worked with colleagues to help kick-start the national 50/50 raffle for the COF. A hockey lover, Kramolc relishes the Olympic spectacle, “Summer, winter, it doesn’t matter!” he said. As a sports fan, he appreciated the opportunity to contribute to a program whose proceeds go directly towards training Olympic and amateur athletes.
“Three to six years from now, we want to look at Canadian medal wins and feel that we had a real hand in them by providing the fundraising for their training,” Kramolc said. “The purchasers can also feel a part of that gold medal win.”
Planning for a successful multi-provincial 50/50
It was an ambitious plan—previous online raffles unveiled by charities were simply Provincial or Territorial. Licensing requirements vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and donor bases can be geographically concentrated. In supporting an Olympic cause bearing considerable influence and prestige, the COF wanted the online raffle to reach as many Canadians as possible.
To make it happen, Ascend not only provided the technology but also helped the COF with a three-pronged strategy:
- Licensing advice: Kramolc’s team provided the COF ample guidance, including advice on licensing requirements.
- Legal consultation: Ascend’s legal team was looped in to help ensure compliance before the national 50/50 rollout.
- Marketing support: Ascend provided best practices across all of the different Provinces/Territories for what has worked best locally. Additionally, Ascend paired the Foundation with an external marketing firm to craft a strong social and paid search campaign that would help promote the online raffle program.
The COF succeeded in getting the word out: Team Canada 50/50 winners, for example, were announced on the CBC, along with social media mentions from high-profile influencers about the raffle program. Additionally, Kramolc’s team worked with the COF throughout the countrywide raffle program, offering expertise to the COF around best practices.
For any organization looking to launch a multi-provincial program, Kramolc has two pieces of advice: (1) Start the licensing application early as it takes “a lot of bandwidth”; and (2) assemble a separate, dedicated team to craft a marketing plan well in advance of your launch.
Go big online
North America has witnessed a spike in individual giving, and nonprofits have transitioned online to tap into the swell of donor enthusiasm. Already, the United States (1.44%) and Canada (0.77%) lead the world in individual giving, measured by the share of it as a percentage of national GDP. In both countries, individual giving surged in 2020, driven by causes related to animal welfare and health.
According to a 2020 survey on global trends in donation, 63% of American and Canadian donors prefer to give online. Among them, 47% of donors opt for online raffles and sweepstakes, compared with about 24% who prefer auctions.
All told, online fundraising has incredible potential to yield great returns. An online 50/50 raffle—be it regional or national—can boost your reach, attract a larger donor base, and help you reach or exceed your fundraising goals.