Looking to spice things up at your next event? Games are a great way to raise additional funds, entertain, and keep guests engaged through participation. Raffles and wine pulls are familiar, but we’ve broken down a few more to help jog new ideas.

HEADS OR TAILS 
Guests must buy-in to participate, and then everyone stands before an announcer or auctioneer, who calls the first coin toss. Guests place hands on head to represent “heads” or backside to represent “tails”. Those who predicted the toss correctly remain standing and those who did not sit down. The game continues with guests changing their prediction and the announcer tossing the coin until only one person is left standing. That person is the winner! 

WINE PULL 
Also known as a wine grab or cork pull, guests can purchase a ticket to select a pre-wrapped bottle of wine, which is displayed on a table with all the solicited bottles. It’s best to collect mostly $15 to $25 bottles with a few more expensive ones mixed in. Guests randomly select a bottle to take home in the hopes it may be worth more than the amount of the ticket. Wine shopping for a good cause! 

Ask your donors, local wine shops, or local wineries or vineyards to donate any wine bottles with a value of $15-$25, with a few higher donations. Also ask your donors to take on the shipping costs so that this lowers costs on the organization’s end. Overall costs could include gift wrapping or boxes to send out the wine. 

To host a wine pull virtually, it might take a bit of additional shipping or delivery, but it can still be a fun surprise for your donors! Encourage donors to mail the wine bottles to one location by a certain date, and then sell wine pull tickets virtually. Add a note to purchasers that all wine bottles will be chosen at random and then mailed directly to them (even add a note if you’d like them to incur shipping costs). The excitement of a randomly chosen wine bottle can still be maintained, even if it’s virtual 

MYSTERY BOX
Like a wine pull, there are pre-wrapped gifts chosen by your community, such as gift certificates, small electronics, apparel, etc. Guests pay a preset amount for each box and enjoy the surprise of discovering a fun gift inside. 

The mystery box depends on donations, especially from local businesses, but there might be additional shipping or packaging costs to send the boxes to purchasers.  

Like the wine pull, this raffle can still be hosted virtually with a bit of additional organizing. Ask donors and local businesses to donate items for this mystery box and send them to one location by a certain date. Your organization can sell tickets virtually, with a teaser of the type of items they might receive in the mystery box and pick randomly to send to those who purchase. This can be especially enticing for businesses in your community – they can provide a small donation for their company name to be included on your website and it spreads brand awareness for them within your donor base 

WISH LIST
Also known as a wishing tree or giving tree, the wish list allows guests to make donations at various levels or branches. Organizations and schools use this visual to raise funds for a specific cause. It’s a way for guests to see exactly what the money is going toward, especially if this is visually displayed on the tree. Giving trees can be physical displays or digital on GiveSmart’s platform. 

This is a donation opportunity, so it does not add any additional cost to the organization! 

A wish list or giving tree display can help give your donors a better understanding of where exactly their donations are going. Your organization or school can create a few different levels of giving based on what you need – if you’re an organization providing medical supplies, then offer a $20 donation to provide 50 sets of gloves; if you’re a school, show a $30 opportunity to provide textbooks to students in need. This is a chance to illustrate just how your donors’ financial contributions will lead directly to good!  

BALLOON POP
Not for the faint of heart, and probably best for outdoor events, a balloon pop involves placing a number in each balloon and allowing guests to pop their balloons. Guests pay to participate, pop the balloon, then find the prize or gift corresponding to their number. Prizes can be collected immediately or at checkout. 

A display, balloons, and darts will need to be purchased or donated for this game. 

RING TOSS
Another game for wine lovers! Guests purchase a ticket for a chance to toss a ring around a wine bottle. If they make it then the wine is their prize. You can solicit wine donations from donors, just as you would for a wine pull. A variation includes selling different levels of tickets for closer distances to the bottles or for multiple toss opportunities. 

A display and rings will need to be purchased or donated for this game. 

TRADITIONAL RAFFLE
Organizations sell tickets on their GiveSmart site, from a bidding assistant with an iPad at the event, or at a designated table at the event. Guests place their tickets in a bowl or container before the drawing later in the evening. The prize can be a donated auction item and you can set your raffle ticket prices based upon the fair market value of the item. Be sure to set a few rules about entering – does the guest need to be present to win? Will you announce by number or have each purchaser write their name on the back of the raffle?  

If you’d like to sell tickets beforehand, you will need to be sure that each purchaser has physical raffle tickets entered on their behalf or given to them at check-in. While considering these factors, you’ll want to pick the most seamless process for your event team! For the event night, you’ll need to purchase raffle tickets.  

DIGITAL or ONLINE RAFFLE
This will be almost the same as a Traditional Raffle with prizes & rules (see above), but you will not need to purchase any physical tickets to distribute, nor will you have to worry about calling out numbers, if someone lost their raffle tickets, etc. Since everyone purchases the tickets online, you can start sales before your event night and easily select a winner from a random number generator (easily found online). This is no cost to your organization unless you decide to purchase a prize or get one donated.  

This raffle can seamlessly move to virtual since it’s all already digital! You’ll want to emphasize the prize by sharing pictures & details online. Once you pick a winner, you can contact them via text or email and then post the winner on your website.  

BASKET RAFFLE
Also known as a tricky tray, penny sale, or Chinese raffle, each item is its own raffle, usually with a jar in front of each prize. This format grants guests the opportunity to select the raffle item they care to enter a drawing for, as opposed to a first, second, and third place raffle drawing. Guests can purchase as many raffle tickets as they’d like to increase their chances. The price of physical raffle tickets and baskets; if hosted digitally, then there’s no cost! 

Basket raffles can be quite tempting for guests at your event, but this can transition over to virtual! Create an individual raffle item for each basket, show pictures, and describe what’s in each basket. Then, encourage donors to buy as many tickets as they’d like for as many baskets as they’d like! You can pull the winners just as you would for a digital raffle.  

REVERSE RAFFLE
In most cases, a reverse raffle would have the last ticket drawn as the winner instead of the first ticket pulled. For example, there are 50 raffle tickets sold, so all 49 tickets would need to be pulled first, but the 50th ticket is the winner. In most cases, so many raffle tickets are sold that this would take quite a bit of time! You can add a twist by saying that the 10th ticket chosen is the winner, instead of the first. Some variations on the reverse raffle include smaller prizes along the way (example: the 4th person chosen will receive a small prize, but the 5th person chosen is the actual winner), or being able to buy back in. If it’s a traditional raffle, then it includes the price of physical raffle tickets. If it’s a digital raffle, then there’s no cost 

Your organization can host this as a digital raffle with a prize, but be sure to share that the winner will be the ‘x’ number chosen, instead of the first chosen. You can communicate with this winner by text or email and then post the winner on your website. 

LIVE-AUCTION RAFFLE
Also known as “golden tickets,” are on-sale raffle tickets are sold leading up to your event. The winner automatically wins a live auction item of his/her/their choice. Since live auction items typically receive higher-priced bids, it’s best to sell fewer of these tickets for a higher price, ex: $100 tickets, only 75 available. This also creates exclusivity and encourages guests to buy quickly. If all live auction items were donated to the organization, it might be best to consider the average of expected bids and then decide how many tickets to sell and for what price, as to ensure you’re confident in your fundraising potential. For those that purchase the tickets, they now have a chance to bid in the live auction, which they might not have done before! For an in-person event, your organization can provide an envelope to be opened at a certain time, with only one envelope containing the “golden ticket.” You can also run it as a digital raffle and use a random number generator (see above) to choose the winner.  

If handing out physical tickets, then that’s your only cost. If it’s a digital live-auction raffle, then there’s no additional cost! 

Since there may be fewer live auctions in the virtual world, you can transition this to a silent auction raffle, and allow donors to enter for the chance to win a “golden ticket” to a silent auction item of their choice. This might lower the cost of the raffle ticket, based on your silent auction catalog, but it can still generate some excitement. Be sure to pull the winner before your silent auction is closed so that they can claim their item! It’s best to list the rules clearly so that the donor can be ready to pick their winning item, you can close bidding that item, and it won’t cause confusion with any other bidders.  

50/50 RAFFLE
This raffle takes the least amount of setup – you’ll ask donors for raffle purchases, and the more they purchase, the higher the reward is for both the winner and your organization! If you’re able to raise $300 through raffle tickets, then the organization will receive $150 and the winner will receive $150 (either given in cash or as a credit for any purchases). One perk – some winners end up donating the money back to your organization!  

A 50/50 raffle can easily transition online and run just as a digital raffle. You can sell raffle tickets online and add a description, explaining the 50/50 raffle to your donors. Add in details about the raffle end time and how you’ll contact the winner, and then you’re ready to go!   

WHEELBARROW OF CHEER
The winner of the raffle drawing gets a wheelbarrow full of whatever you’d like to gift the winner! The most common wheelbarrow of cheer is full of alcohol. The Wheelbarrow of Cheer is a fun way to show exactly what the raffle winner will receive, but it is managed the same as a traditional or digital raffle. The wheelbarrow is an enticing display at your event and can really build some excitement.  

Decide the theme of your wheelbarrow to then ask donors or local businesses for donations, whether it’s alcohol, gift cards, coffee, or beauty products.  

As mentioned above, this Wheelbarrow of Cheer is the prize of a regular raffle (see traditional or digital raffle above), so you can sell tickets virtually for the chance to win. While it’s fun to watch the winner take away an entire wheelbarrow of goodies at your event, you can still display it for all to see online! Encourage donors to send items to one location, put together the wheelbarrow, and then take pictures & videos to post to your website or social media while encouraging raffle entries. You can choose the winner digitally and then ship the winner the items (though maybe not the wheelbarrow!).  

CORNHOLE TOURNAMENT
Also known as baggo, bags, bean bag toss, and sack toss. This is a game that involves 4 bean bags that you toss across a distance and try to score in hole cut into a wooden board. This game is played with two teams of two. If the bean bag goes through the hole it’s three points, if it lands on the edge of the hole it’s two points, if it lands on the board it’s one point. The team to reach 21 points first wins. 

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Before adding one of these fun components to your event, be sure to check with your legal and tax advisors. Gambling regulations vary from state to state.

Kelsey Woodworth