50/50 Raffles and Other Types of Raffle Fundraisers

Different Types of Raffles and How They Work

If you're looking for a fundraiser for your charity or organization, raffles are a great choice. They're a lot of fun, easy to run, and raise good money. But which type of raffle is best for your event? Here’s a review of the different types of raffles for you to choose from, along with the pros and cons of each one for the organizations running them.

Important Tip:

Before you get started, be sure to check out the raffle laws in your region to be sure that you're eligible to run a raffle and that you're following all the necessary rules and restrictions.

Traditional Raffles or Tombolas

Standard raffles, also called tombolas in the UK and other areas, are the most common type of raffle. Organizations collect raffle prizes ahead of time and then buy or make raffle tickets to sell.

Each raffle ticket has two parts with the same number printed on each one. One part is taped or glued to a prize, while the other goes into a box or bucket to be sold later. The person who buys a ticket with a number on it wins the corresponding prize. Many raffles also include tickets with no number on them so that not every purchase is guaranteed to win.


It's a good idea to be clear in advance as to whether every ticket is a winner or not.

If you want every ticket to be a winner, you can usually charge more for each ticket. If you want to keep costs down but don't want to disappoint any of your customers, you can also have very small and inexpensive prizes thrown in with the more tantalizing ones.

If you don't want every ticket to be a winner, you might only assign prizes to specific ticket numbers (like even numbers or numbers ending in zero). In other cases, the raffle tickets include losing tickets with messages like: "Sorry, try again!" along with the numbered tickets.

Standard raffles have the advantage that they are easy to run and easy for the people who are buying your tickets to understand. Buyers can see the available prizes and decide if they are worth buying a ticket.

Keep in mind that the prizes don’t have to be very high-value, which will make it easier to find donors.

Table Raffles, aka Chinese Raffles

This type of raffle works best when you have a few high-value prizes. The prizes are put out on a table for everyone to see. In front of each prize, you put out a container to collect tickets. A lidded bucket with a slot cut into the lid or an empty tissue box wrapped in attractive paper with a slot work well for this purpose.

People buy tickets and drop them into the container that matches the prize they want to win. When the time is up, a single ticket is drawn from each container to determine the winner.

This can be fun for entrants because they can try to improve their odds of winning by trying to win prizes with fewer people entering for them. It’s also a very simple way of giving away big prizes, and this raffle type costs nothing more than a roll of raffle tickets.

This kind of raffle can become time-consuming and confusing if you have a large number of prizes, though.

50/50 Raffles

50/50 raffles are quick and easy to run. You don’t even need to organize prizes in advance, though a roll of raffle tickets will make things easier.

This type of raffle is cash-based only. Participants buy tickets and all the money is put into a prize pool. When the tickets have been sold, a single ticket is drawn as the winner. Half of the cash goes to the winner, while the organizer keeps the other half.

This is hands-down the easiest type of raffle to run. You don’t have to do any preparation in advance, you don’t need a lot of room to display prizes, and it doesn’t take long to distribute the prizes.

On the downside, this may feel more like gambling than playing a game to some people, which could make them uncomfortable. If a certain amount of money is collected, you might also need to report the giveaway to the IRS or withhold money for taxes.

Lucky Squares Raffles

The idea behind this type of raffle is that your organization offers a game board consisting of a grid of squares. The grid can be set up in a checkerboard style or it can be superimposed over a treasure map or other image.

The organizers sets a prize for each square, and participants buy however many they want. You can have some areas of the map correspond to different prizes. You can even charge different rates for different areas. For example, squares in the "grand prize" area might cost more money than the rest of the map.

Once they've bought a square, the participant writes their name onto it. The winning squares have been pre-determined and will be announced at the end of the giveaway, usually by flipping them over to reveal a winning image.

Another option is to cover the squares with a film that participants can peel off to see if they have won, turning this raffle into a type of instant-win game.

The nice thing about this kind of raffle is that your organization can set up the board in advance and let people buy squares over time. It also makes a fun addition to something like a charity dinner or a Super Bowl bash.

Which Type of Raffle Is Right for You?

Raffles are a flexible way to raise a good amount of money for your good cause. With the wide variety of raffle types to choose among, you can tailor your fundraiser to your own situation. Which one is right for your fundraiser depends on the mood you want to set at your event, the time you have to plan, and the amount of organization you're able to put into your event.