The Tricky Tray, also known as a basket raffle or penny sale, is a common fundraising game used to draw in donors who can only give a little, but enjoy the art of competition and games of chance. Essentially, the Tricky Tray is a combination of a silent auction and a raffle concept.  

How it works: 

Donors can purchase any number of raffle tickets or raffle entries to the Tricky Tray and then they peruse a catalog of items available to win. For each item, there is a basket, jar, or some container (even Manilla envelopes) where each ticket can be placed in an effort to win that item. The donor can put all their tickets in one tray or they can differentiate based on what they are interested in. The items are displayed online or live depending on your event. 

tricky tray

How do we run a tricky tray virtually?

If it is a virtual event or an event online, you can set up a google sheet to manage submissions as well which allows you to randomize selections of the winners with any of the random number generating tools out there. At the end of the raffle or event, the winners are picked from the raffle tickets submitted to each item and they pick up their items just like any auction winner would. The items for your tricky tray can be set up as Instant Buy Items or Vote Items. Instead of selling a physical sheet of tickets, you can allow donors to pay for every “ticket” they drop in the bucket they desire. So for example, if you pay $1 per vote on an item that you want, if you pay $10 you’ll have 10 entries added to the selection pool for that item. Let us know here if you want us to show you what that looks like with GiveSmart’s software.

This post is full of virtual tricky tray and raffle examples.

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Why should we do a Tricky Tray fundraiser? 

If you are trying to incorporate new donors or younger donors who can’t afford to make large donations but they would be interested in some of your fun or unique auction packages, this is a great chance to add them to the fold by selling them something they could afford and rewarding them with something they enjoy. That’s a great donor stewardship opportunity and it also allows larger donors to give a little bit more on the fly at an event or through a campaign. 


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As always, consult your local gaming commission about raffle rules and regulations.

Talk to us about running your trick tray fundraiser online. 

Brandon Stec
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