In the weeks leading up to the Sustainable Brands Innovation Open (SBIO) finals on June 4th, where the runner-up will be decided via live online public vote, we will get to know our 11 semi-finalists. Today, meet the winner of our public vote, Raffle for Good.
Online fundraising has escalated over the last few years but has largely focused on entrepreneurial ventures. Meanwhile, nonprofits continue to host galas and send out mail requests for donations. Raffle for Good is attempting to bridge the gap between the two by making it simpler for nonprofits to raise funds online and easier for companies to give to choice causes, while making it fun and beneficial for individual donors. We spoke to founder and CEO Gregory Hoffman about the journey so far.
How did the idea for Raffle for Good come about?
Back in 2010, a catastrophic 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti. I was on the computer reading about it and decided I wanted to help out. I browsed the websites of a number of nonprofits that were dedicated to disaster relief. I was struck by the lack of ways I was able to help out and engage with the nonprofits. It seemed as if I were limited to just giving them money and receiving a thank you email.
While goodwill is certainly reason enough to give money, which I ultimately did, direct donations as the only method of being able to support a cause online didn’t seem right to me. In the ensuing years, I set out to explore the issue further. I quickly found out that the problem was much more complex and serious than I thought — I realized the way we do philanthropy is broken. There are so many amazing nonprofits that do great work, but don’t have enough funds.
How does Raffle for Good work?
Raffle For Good is an online fundraising platform for organizations to raise money through an interactive, skill-based raffle system. Companies donate items to causes they support, organizations list the items on their personal Raffleforgood.com subdomain, and direct their supporters to purchase tickets. Nonprofits are given tools to help them promote their campaigns online and to track progress.
The for-profits simply donate a prize in exchange for brand and product promotion by a growing number of US charities and their supporters. Recognizing the value of the interest in the item by entrants, Raffle For Good enables for-profits to take advantage of this targeted marketing opportunity. For-profits can deliver an incentive to all players — Raffle For Good can tailor delivery of the incentives to suit each company.
How is Raffle for Good different from other raffles?
The big difference from traditional raffles is that users get to number their own tickets. To win, a user simply needs to select the lowest numbered ticket that no one else chooses. For example, if three consumers choose the number one and one consumer chooses the number three, the one who chose the unique number — in this case, number three — would win.
How is it different from direct online fundraising?
Expecting to fundraise effectively online solely using direct donations is an inconsistent, archaic ideology. In today’s uncertain economic climate, nonprofits need to present users with an attractive value proposition to convince them to donate their scarce dollars. While users may truly care about a cause and wish to support it, a more engaging form to donate that also positively reinforces the action is needed.
Most for-profits today engage in philanthropy as a way of improving their reputation and to begin attracting new customers. The primary way companies do this is through monetary donations & grants. However, they are limited in their ability to perform philanthropy, as giving money away with no return is unsustainable. Companies require a way to support nonprofits while also benefiting their bottom line.
How has the response been from the various stakeholders — companies, nonprofits and the public?
The response has been largely positive from the various stakeholders. The public wants to give. Walk up to a stranger and ask them if they care about saving the whales, helping battered women, ending poverty, or any other cause — they’ll say yes. Then ask the last time they gave money to said causes. They haven’t — because giving is not a rational economic decision. Raffle For Good turns giving to charity into a logical and profitable action for an individual to take. Now, donors can support the causes they care about most while winning cool prizes, getting discounts, and having a good time.
For partner nonprofits, the Raffle For Good platform is another path to draw in and raise funds from existing and new donors. Our platform makes administering a raffle hassle-free, and handles all donor payment processing and logistics. Nonprofits love how we don’t charge any fees and simply take a small percent of the funds raised
The most difficult stakeholder to engage with has been for-profit companies. Raffle for Good’s non-cash cause-marketing platform introduces a new, effective way for companies to reach more consumers, build their brand and maximize charitable impact. Unlike donating a prize to a traditional raffle or auction, Raffle For Good allows companies to capitalize on participants' interest in the product by giving the option of sending each player an incentive — a discount coupon, money off voucher, etc. Using Raffle For Good, companies can maximize the value of their product donation for their chosen nonprofit, while gaining positive exposure for their brand and attracting new customers. We have had difficulty getting face-time with companies to present our platform.
What has been your most successful raffle to-date?
In our first batch of five raffles, we sold out nearly every ticket. What excited us the most is in one of the raffles, the sponsor company generated $1,079 in sales from donating a $119 retail value prize (81 percent of players became customers). In all other raffles, 46 percent of players became customers of the raffle’s respective sponsor company.
What are your hopes from being a finalist for the Sustainable Brands Innovation Open this year?
Raffle For Good needs to grow. At the Sustainable Brands conference, I hope to make meaningful connections to help me obtain funding, an additional partner, advisors and feedback.