How to Use Scratch Cards for Fundraising

by Joe Garecht

For smaller organizations with large volunteer bases, I like the concept of using scratch cards for fundraising.  Concepts like scratch cards, candy bar sales, or cookbook fundraising shouldn’t replace your organization’s efforts to build strong donor networks and annual giving programs, but programs like these can and should supplement your revenue and provide a good activity for your current volunteers.

What are Scratch Cards for Fundraising?

If you haven’t seen them yet, the idea behind scratch cards for fundraising is a simple one.  First, your organization buys a number of cards from a fundraising company, and distributes them to your volunteers.  The cards each contain a certain number of scratch off ovals or squares with donation amounts listed underneath (kind of like lottery tickets, without the prizes).

The volunteers then ask their friends, family, and co-workers to scratch off an oval or two and agree to donate whatever amount is revealed under each (the cards only have a limited range of donations under the scratch-offs.  Depending on which company you purchase the cards from, the amounts could range from $1-$5 or $1-$10, or more).

After the donor scratches off the card, the volunteer collects the money, and usually hands the donor a sheet of high-quality coupons (buy 1 get 1 free or 50% off, etc) from major restaurants and other retailers as a thank you for participating.  These sheets are usually created by the fundraising company and come as part of a package when your non-profit buys the scratch cards for fundraising.

Generally, each card you buy will be worth the same amount of money when all the ovals are scratched off (somewhere in the $50-$250 range per card), so your organization will be able to accurately track money coming in from your volunteers.

Why Do Scratch Cards Work?

Scratch cards for fundraising work because they are fun and unique, and because they bring an unusual element of excitement to the fundraising process.  They’re a little like gambling, because the donor doesn’t know what size donation lies behind each oval, and is used to scratching off lottery tickets in search of a prize.  The coupon sheets or other giveaways also add a nice touch to the program.  (Click here for an example of what a scratch card looks like – the card shown is a very simple design, many cards include full graphics, your organization’s logo, etc.)

How to Maximize Scratch Card Fundraising Revenue

If you’re working with a small or medium sized school, church, or charity that has a strong volunteer base, you might want to consider using scratch cards for fundraising.  If you decide to use them , follow these five tips to make sure you are raising as much as possible to help fund your mission:

  1. Go to Friends and Family First – Tell your volunteers that the best place to start with raising money through the scratch cards is with their own friends and family, who are much more likely to give than cold asks.
  2. Make it Mission Based – Just because scratch cards for fundraising are a fun and unique way to raise money, it doesn’t mean your asks shouldn’t focus on your mission.  Teach your volunteers how to tie their asks back to the story of what your organization does!
  3. Set Up a Committee – Small non-profits normally don’t have the staffing necessary to completely stay on top of a large volunteer-driven fundraising program.  Try to recruit a scratch cards for fundraising chair and committee to help you oversee the campaign.
  4. Track Everything – Be sure that you (or your committee) tracks the work of all volunteers – not only to make sure that all the money comes back to the non-profit like it should, but also to ensure that your volunteers have everything they need to be successful.
  5. Motivate, Support, and Thank – As with all volunteer-driven activities, while you’re running your scratch cards for fundraising program, be sure to constantly motivate, support, and thank your team!
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