Ultimate guide to bingo fundraising

Throwing a Bingo fundraiser combines the best of both worlds—entertainment and philanthropy. Turn your game night into a powerful vehicle for change and community building.

Reading Time
26 min read
Publish Date
Nov 17, 2023
Ultimate guide to bingo fundraising

Bingo: it's not just a game, it's a fundraising powerhouse! When it comes to bringing people together for a good cause, few activities match the universal appeal of bingo. This classic game transcends age, skill, and even interest, making it a go-to choice for fundraisers. Whether you're a local school, a charity, or a community group looking to raise funds, bingo offers a unique blend of entertainment and opportunity.

The charm of bingo lies in its simplicity and its ability to adapt to various themes and causes. Unlike other fundraising events that may require specialized skills or knowledge, bingo is welcoming to all. This inclusivity is a big part of its appeal, drawing diverse crowds and creating an atmosphere of community spirit and camaraderie.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore everything you need to know about running a successful bingo fundraiser. From choosing the right charity and understanding gambling licenses to selecting bingo games and equipment, we've got you covered. We'll also delve into effective ways to promote your event and maximize your fundraising potential. So grab your bingo daubers, and let's dive into the world of bingo fundraisers!

Why host a bingo night for fundraising?

Organizing a bingo night as your next fundraising event could be the game-changer your chosen charity needs. This timeless activity isn't just about playing a game; it's an effective tool for bringing people together, raising significant funds, and creating an inclusive atmosphere. Here's why you should consider bingo for your next fundraiser:

  • Community engagement benefits: Bingo nights are perfect for knitting the community closer. They offer a relaxed and enjoyable setting where people from all walks of life can mingle, share laughs, and build connections. This fosters a sense of community spirit and belonging, turning your fundraiser into a social highlight.
  • Simplicity and inclusivity of bingo: The beauty of bingo lies in its simplicity. It's a game that everyone, regardless of age or background, can easily grasp and enjoy. This inclusivity ensures that your event is welcoming to a broad audience, making it a hit across diverse groups.
  • Potential for substantial fundraising: Don't underestimate the financial potential of a bingo night. With various revenue streams like ticket sales, additional games, and side activities such as raffles, your bingo event can be a lucrative fundraising opportunity. The key is to balance entertainment with the fundraising goal, encouraging generosity in a fun-filled environment.

Real-life success stories

Bingo fundraisers have a remarkable track record of success worldwide, supporting various causes and making tangible impacts in communities. Here are a couple of real-life success stories that showcase the potential of these events:

  1. Public Counsel’s Leadership Council Event: In a remarkable display of community spirit and generosity, Public Counsel’s Leadership Council hosted a bingo night at Hamburger Mary’s in West Hollywood. The event was a roaring success with over 130 attendees participating in the fun-filled evening. Through ticket sales, sponsorships, and an exciting live auction, the event raised over $13,000. These funds supported Public Counsel's vital work, illustrating the substantial impact a well-organized bingo fundraiser can have​.
  2. The Los Alamos Foundation’s Fundraiser: Demonstrating the power of community engagement, The Los Alamos Foundation organized a bingo fundraiser that exceeded expectations. The event successfully raised over $5,000, with all proceeds directly benefiting their 'Summer in the Park' program. This success story is a testament to how involvement from various community members, from bingo players to donors and volunteers, can turn a simple fundraising idea into a significant contribution to a specific cause or project​

These examples underscore the effectiveness of bingo fundraisers. They not only provide entertainment and a sense of community but also generate substantial funds for worthy causes.

1. Choose a fundraising charity

When planning a bingo fundraiser, one of the first and most crucial steps is selecting the right charity. Your choice of charity can significantly influence the event's success and how it resonates with your audience. Here are key considerations to guide you through this process:

When planning a bingo fundraiser, one of the first and most crucial steps is selecting the right charity. The charity you choose significantly influences the event's success and how it resonates with your audience. Let's delve into key considerations that will guide you through this important decision-making process.

Deciding between local and national charities

Begin by deciding whether to support a local cause or a national organization. Supporting a local charity, such as a school, community center, or a local chapter of a larger organization, can have an immediate and visible impact in your community. On the other hand, aligning with a national charity often allows you to tackle larger-scale issues and might bring wider recognition to your event.

Aligning with the right cause

The alignment of the charity's mission with your values and those of your potential attendees is crucial. A charity whose goals resonate with your audience will naturally drive more engagement and support. This alignment is not just about the cause itself but also about the values and the approach of the charity towards achieving its goals.

Vetting the charity for transparency and effectiveness

Thorough research is necessary to vet a charity:

  • Researching the charity: Investigate the charity's track record. Transparency in operations and clarity in the usage of donations are key. Utilize resources like Charity Navigator or GuideStar to gain insights into the charity’s financial health and accountability.
  • Assessing effectiveness: Evaluate the impact the charity has had. Look for tangible progress and success stories, which are often highlighted in annual reports or on their websites.

Engaging with the chosen charity

After selecting a charity, building a strong partnership is essential:

  • Forming a Partnership: Early engagement with the charity can lead to valuable support in promoting the event, providing materials, or even volunteers.
  • Maintaining Communication: Keep communication lines open and clear. This ensures that both parties are aligned with the event's goals and expectations, paving the way for a successful collaboration.

Charity selection checklist

  • Choose local or national based on event goals.
  • Ensure the cause aligns with your community’s values.
  • Conduct thorough research on potential charities.
  • Evaluate the charity's effectiveness and impact.
  • Engage early with the charity for support.
  • Maintain clear communication throughout the planning process.

Selecting the right charity is a foundational step in your fundraising journey, setting the tone for your event and its potential impact. By carefully considering these aspects, you can ensure that your bingo fundraiser not only provides entertainment but also makes a meaningful contribution to a cause that matters to you and your community.

2. Acquire a gambling license (if required)

When you're diving into the world of bingo fundraisers, understanding the legalities around gambling licenses is a crucial step. Navigating these waters ensures that your event not only brings joy and funds to your cause but also remains on the right side of the law.

The legal requirements for hosting a bingo event can vary widely depending on where you are. In some regions, charitable bingo events may be exempt from the standard gambling laws, while in others, there might be a strict regulatory framework you need to follow. It's vital to understand the laws specific to your area to avoid any legal complications.

We've summarised a few different legal requirements for popular locations for bingo with references below as an example, please do your own research before making any decisions as requirements:

RegionKey legal requirementsReferences
United StatesBingo is considered a form of gambling in a social setting.
- Legal status depends on state and federal laws.
- Most states allow bingo as a legal form of gambling for social purposes.
- Federal laws take precedence, but state laws and local ordinances may impose restrictions.
- Online bingo can be illegal, with specific states considering it illegal gambling.
United Kingdom- No license needed for non-commercial bingo fundraising.
- Events must be non-commercial, and all proceeds used for fundraising.
- Specific rules apply for charges and prizes.
Gambling Commission
Canada (Ontario)- Charitable organizations must apply to local municipality.
- Specific rules for managing events, prize boards, and record-keeping.
- Policies for visually impaired players and prize limitations.
Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario
Australia (Western Australia)- Permits required for bingo played for money or prizes.
- Specific legislative acts govern bingo.
- Operational conditions include permit validity and use of proceeds.
Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission​, Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries
This table provides an overview of bingo gambling license requirements along with references for further information in each region.

Requirements for a license

Obtaining a gambling license for your bingo event usually involves a few key steps:

  1. Research local regulations: Start by checking with your local gaming or gambling authority. They will provide the necessary guidelines specific to your area.
  2. Application process: The process typically involves filling out detailed application forms, paying any required fees, and providing comprehensive information about your event and the charity you're supporting.
  3. Timeline considerations: Begin this process well in advance of your event, as getting a license can be time-consuming.

Common pitfalls to avoid

Several common pitfalls can trip up even the most well-intentioned event organizer:

  • Ignoring local laws: Always check the specific legal requirements in your area rather than assuming general rules apply.
  • Late applications: Submit your application as early as possible. Late submissions can delay your event or, worse, lead to legal challenges.
  • Inadequate information: Ensure all the information you provide about your event is accurate and complete. Any discrepancies can cause issues with your application.

Legality and gambling license checklist

  • Research and understand local gambling laws and regulations.
  • Gather all necessary information about your event for the application.
  • Complete and submit the gambling license application well in advance.
  • Pay any required fees associated with the application.
  • Keep a record of the application submission and any correspondence.
  • Plan for contingencies in case of delays in the licensing process.
  • Stay informed about any changes in gambling laws that might affect your event.

In conclusion, understanding and complying with gambling laws is a critical part of organizing a successful bingo fundraiser. It's not just about following rules; it's about ensuring your event operates with integrity, allowing you to focus on what's truly important - raising funds for a worthy cause.

3. Find the perfect venue

Choosing the right venue is crucial for the success of your bingo fundraiser. It sets the tone for the event and plays a vital role in accommodating your guests comfortably. Here are factors to consider and ideas to make your venue choice a winning one.

Factors to consider

  • Size: Estimate the number of participants and choose a venue that can comfortably accommodate your crowd. Ensure there's enough space for seating, equipment, and any additional activities.
  • Accessibility: Consider the location's accessibility. Is it easy to find? Are there ample parking and public transport options? Accessibility can significantly impact your turnout.
  • Cost: Balance the allure of a venue with its cost. An expensive venue might offer more amenities, but remember, the primary goal is to raise funds.

Unique venue ideas to enhance the event

  • Community centers or halls: These are often affordable and well-suited for local events.
  • Outdoor spaces: Weather permitting, hosting an outdoor bingo can add a unique charm. Think parks or community gardens.
  • Unique locations: Consider unconventional spaces like art galleries, historic buildings, or even a large boat if near water. These can make your event stand out.

Logistics and planning for the venue

Managing logistics is key. Ensure the venue has the necessary amenities like power outlets, good acoustics, and Wi-Fi (if using an online number generator). Also, plan the layout to maximize visibility and comfort.

Venue selection checklist

  • Assess the size requirements based on expected attendance
  • Check accessibility for all attendees, including parking and public transport options
  • Evaluate costs to ensure they align with your budget
  • Confirm availability of essential amenities (electricity, Wi-Fi, restrooms)
  • Consider the venue's appeal and how it complements your event

The right venue not only accommodates your guests but also contributes to the overall experience of your bingo fundraiser. With careful consideration and planning, you can choose a location that enhances your event and makes it a memorable one for all attendees.

4. Gather essential bingo equipment

Organizing a bingo fundraiser is not just about enthusiasm and a good cause; it also demands the right equipment. From number generators to daubers, each piece plays a pivotal role in ensuring the event runs smoothly. Let's delve into the essentials needed to bring your bingo night to life.

Types of bingo number generators

Your first stop in bingo equipment is selecting a number generator, crucial for calling the game. You have several options:

  1. Bingo ball machine: The classic choice, a bingo ball machine, brings a traditional feel to your event. These machines, filled with numbered balls, randomly release numbers when turned. They range from simple manual machines to more sophisticated electric versions.
  2. Electronic number generator: For a more modern twist, electronic generators display numbers digitally. They are convenient and easy to operate, making them a great fit for events aiming for a contemporary feel.
  3. Online number generator: Ideal for tech-savvy or smaller events, online generators are a cost-effective and easy-to-set-up option. All you need is a device with an internet connection, and you’re ready to go.

Options for bingo daubers and tickets

The next step is ensuring players have what they need to participate:

  • Daubers: Also known as dabbers, these are markers used to cover numbers on bingo cards. You can opt for traditional ink daubers or provide simpler alternatives like stickers or markers.
  • Tickets: Whether you choose 75-ball or 90-ball bingo, you'll need corresponding tickets. Options range from pre-printed books to customizable tickets that can be printed from online sources.

Renting vs buying equipment

When it comes to acquiring bingo equipment, you need to weigh the pros and cons of renting versus buying. Renting can be cost-effective for one-off events and alleviates the need for storage. However, purchasing equipment may be more economical in the long run, especially if you plan to host bingo nights regularly.

Bingo equipment checklist

To ensure you don't miss anything, here's a handy checklist:

  • Decide on the type of number generator (ball machine, electronic, or online)
  • Acquire sufficient daubers for participants
  • Obtain bingo cards appropriate for your chosen game type
  • Assess the need and feasibility of renting vs buying equipment
  • Ensure you have all necessary accessories, like display boards or screens

Having the right equipment is key to a successful bingo night. It not only adds to the authenticity and excitement of the game but also ensures a seamless experience for both organizers and participants.

5. Raise money effectively

A successful bingo fundraiser isn't just about fun and games; it's also about maximizing the funds raised for your chosen cause. To turn your bingo night into a financial success, consider these strategies for pricing, additional fundraising activities, and tips for boosting donations.

Pricing strategies for tickets and extras

  • Ticket pricing: Your ticket price should reflect your audience's spending capacity and the perceived value of the event. Consider offering early bird prices or bundle deals for groups.
  • Extra sales: Think about selling additional game cards, special game rounds (like a jackpot round), or even fun extras like glow sticks or themed merchandise.

Additional fundraising activities

  • Raffles: Raffles are a great way to raise additional funds. Source attractive prizes and sell raffle tickets throughout the event.
  • Auctions: Hosting a silent or live auction can be highly lucrative. Offer unique items or experiences that align with your audience's interests.
  • Side Games: Incorporate side games or challenges throughout the event, with small entry fees adding to the fundraising pot.

Tips for maximizing donations

  • Sponsorships: Reach out to local businesses for sponsorships. In return, offer to feature their branding at your event.
  • Donation stations: Set up donation stations around the venue for those who might want to contribute more directly to the cause.
  • Transparency: Clearly communicate about where the funds are going. When people know the impact of their contributions, they are more likely to donate generously.

6. Select prizes

The right bingo prizes can significantly enhance the excitement of your bingo fundraiser. Here's how to select and award prizes that will keep your attendees engaged and eager to participate.

Creative prize ideas

  • Themed Prizes: Match your prizes to the theme of the event. For instance, for a beach-themed bingo, consider beach towels, sun hats, or beach bags.
  • Experience-Based Prizes: Offer experiences like dinner vouchers, spa days, or tickets to local attractions.
  • Customized Items: Customized items like engraved mugs or t-shirts make for memorable prizes.

Sourcing prizes

  • Donations: Approach local businesses for prize donations. It's a win-win as they get publicity, and you get prizes.
  • Purchases: If your budget allows, purchase a few high-value items. These can be key attractions for your event.
  • Handmade prizes: Consider DIY or handmade prizes, especially if they align with your charity’s mission or values.

Prize distribution methods

  • Fair distribution: Ensure that the distribution method is transparent and fair. This could be as simple as the first person to bingo wins, or more complex systems for larger prizes.
  • Multiple winners: Consider having multiple prize tiers to increase the number of winners and keep the excitement high throughout the event.

Prizes are more than just rewards; they're incentives that drive participation and enthusiasm. By thoughtfully selecting and awarding prizes, you can significantly boost the appeal of your bingo fundraiser.

7. Promote your bingo fundraiser

A well-promoted bingo event can attract a larger audience, thereby increasing its success. Effective promotion involves utilizing various marketing channels and engaging the community creatively. Here’s how you can effectively spread the word about your bingo fundraiser.

Successfully promoting your bingo fundraiser is key to drawing in a large and enthusiastic crowd. This involves a strategic mix of marketing channels and engaging community tactics to ensure your event captures the attention it deserves.

Utilizing marketing channels

In the digital age, social media stands out as a powerful tool.

Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter offer vast outreach possibilities. Create an event page, engage with your audience through regular posts, and consider targeted ads to reach potential attendees.

Don't overlook the power of local press either. Engagements with community newspapers, radio stations, and online community boards can tap into different segments of your audience, broadening your event's reach.

Community engagement tactics

Building partnerships with local businesses, schools, and community centers can be incredibly beneficial. These alliances can help in distributing promotional materials and sharing your event information on their platforms.

Additionally, harnessing the power of word-of-mouth by encouraging volunteers, team members, and supporters to talk about the event can amplify your reach within the community.

Creating appealing promotional materials

Your promotional materials should be visually appealing and informative. Design flyers and posters that are eye-catching and clearly lay out the essential details of your event.

Digital graphics for social media sharing and emails are equally important. The key is to ensure that these materials effectively communicate the cause, the event's specifics, and any unique attractions it offers.

Tips for effective promotional content

A successful promotional strategy hinges on clarity and emotional connection. Ensure your message is concise and that key details like the event's purpose, date, time, and location are prominent. Employ storytelling to connect emotionally with your audience, and always include a clear call-to-action such as “Buy Tickets Now” or “Support Our Cause.”

Promotion checklist

  • Create and Optimize Social Media Presence: Set up event pages, schedule regular posts, and explore targeted advertising.
  • Engage Local Press: Contact newspapers, radio stations, and community boards for wider coverage.
  • Form Community Partnerships: Collaborate with local businesses and organizations for mutual promotion.
  • Develop Engaging Promotional Materials: Design and distribute appealing flyers, posters, and digital graphics.
  • Utilize Word-of-Mouth: Encourage your network to spread the word.
  • Craft a Clear and Compelling Message: Ensure your promotional content is clear, concise, and emotionally engaging.
  • Implement a Call-to-Action: Direct your audience with clear instructions on how to participate or contribute.
  • Track and Adjust Strategies: Monitor the effectiveness of your promotional efforts and adjust strategies as needed.

By following this checklist, you can effectively spread the word about your bingo fundraiser and ensure a successful and well-attended event.

8. Consider risks and safety

red hard hat on pavement

For any event, especially a bingo fundraiser, safety and compliance with local regulations are paramount. Conducting a thorough risk assessment not only ensures participant safety but also safeguards the integrity of your event.

Risk identification and mitigation

Start by identifying potential hazards at your venue, including trip risks, fire hazards, and capacity issues. Develop an emergency plan that includes evacuation procedures and readily available first aid resources. Ensuring the venue is accessible and safe for all, including those with disabilities, is also crucial.

Ensuring compliance and safety

Stay informed about local regulations, particularly those related to public gatherings and current health guidelines. It’s essential that your event complies with legal requirements for gambling and fundraising activities. Regularly review and update your plans to align with any changes in local laws.

Participant safety measures

Assign volunteers or staff members to assist with any issues or emergencies during the event. Ensure that emergency exits are clearly marked, and pathways are kept clear. Consider having a dedicated first aid area or trained personnel on standby.

Risk assessment checklist

  • Check the venue for safety hazards.
  • Ensure compliance with local laws and regulations.
  • Plan for emergencies and have safety protocols in place.
  • Make arrangements for first aid and medical emergencies.
  • Ensure the event is accessible to all attendees.

Proper planning and consideration of safety and regulatory compliance will not only ensure the smooth running of your event but also build trust and credibility with your participants and community.

9. Source volunteers

Successfully running a bingo fundraiser often hinges on the effective coordination of volunteers. Volunteers are the backbone of such events, handling everything from setup to running the games. Here’s how to ensure your volunteers are well-organized and prepared:

Recruiting and organizing volunteers

  • Start by determining how many volunteers you'll need based on the size and scope of your event.
  • Reach out to your community, local groups, and previous volunteers. Use social media, community boards, and word-of-mouth to recruit.
  • Once you have your team, categorize roles based on skills and interests. Common roles include setup crew, game operators, ticket sellers, and food and beverage handlers.

Training and assigning roles

  • Organize a training session before the event. This helps volunteers understand their responsibilities and the overall flow of the event.
  • Provide clear instructions and any necessary materials for their roles.
  • Consider creating a small guide or a cheat sheet that volunteers can refer to during the event.

On the day of the event

  • Assign a volunteer coordinator to be the point of contact.
  • Ensure volunteers arrive early for a briefing and to familiarize themselves with the venue and their roles.
  • Encourage a team spirit. A positive and cooperative atmosphere among volunteers greatly enhances the event's success.


Don’t forget to thank your volunteers. Their time and effort are invaluable and acknowledging this fosters goodwill and helps in recruiting volunteers for future events.

Volunteer coordination checklist

  • Determine the number of volunteers needed.
  • Recruit volunteers through various channels.
  • Organize roles based on skills and interests.
  • Conduct a training session for all volunteers.
  • Assign a coordinator for managing volunteers on the day.
  • Thank volunteers post-event for their contribution.

10. Food and beverage options

Food and beverages can significantly enhance the bingo fundraiser experience. Here’s how to plan this aspect:

Catering vs. DIY

  • Decide between hiring a caterer or opting for a DIY approach.
  • If budget allows, a caterer can offer a range of options.

Considerations for food and drinks

  • Offer a variety of options to cater to different tastes and dietary restrictions.
  • Keep it simple with items like sandwiches, snacks, and non-alcoholic beverages.

Licensing requirements

  • If serving alcohol, check local laws regarding liquor licenses.
  • Ensure any external food vendors or caterers have the necessary permits.

Setting up

  • Plan the layout for food and beverage stations.
  • Consider having dedicated volunteers to manage these stations.

Food and beverage checklist:

  • Decide on catering or DIY approach.
  • Ensure a variety of food and drink options.
  • Check and comply with licensing requirements for alcohol.
  • Organize layout and management of food and beverage stations.
  • Arrange for waste disposal post-event.
  • Thank volunteers and caterers for their service.

11. Setting up and managing the event day

A well-executed bingo fundraiser relies heavily on the smooth setting up and management of the event day. Here's how you can effectively manage these crucial aspects:

Logistics of setting up the venue

  • Early preparation: Ensure the venue is accessible several hours before the event for setup.
  • Layout planning: Arrange tables and chairs, set up the bingo equipment, and ensure clear signage for different areas like registration, food, and restrooms.
  • Technical setup: Test any audiovisual equipment, including microphones, projectors, and screens.
  • Decorations: Add decorations that align with your theme to create an inviting atmosphere.

Managing the flow of the event

  • Registration: Have a smooth check-in process with pre-registered lists and on-site registration options.
  • Starting the games: Begin with a welcome speech, explaining the rules and the flow of the event.
  • Handling intermissions: Plan for short breaks between games for refreshments and socializing.
  • Concluding the event: End with a closing speech, announcing total funds raised and thanking participants.

Event day management checklist

  • Finalize and review the event schedule.
  • Ensure early access for setup.
  • Arrange and test all equipment and decorations.
  • Manage registration efficiently.
  • Conduct games according to schedule.
  • Coordinate intermissions and final wrap-up.

12. Post-event activities

The conclusion of your bingo fundraiser marks the beginning of several important post-event activities. These are crucial for wrapping up the event successfully and laying the groundwork for future events.

Steps for post-event activities

  • Cleaning up: Organize a team for cleaning up the venue, ensuring it’s left in good condition.
  • Returning rented equipment: Coordinate the return of any rented items like tables, chairs, or audiovisual equipment.
  • Debriefing with the team: Hold a meeting with your team to discuss what went well and what could be improved.

Thanking participants and supporters

  • Personalized thank yous: Send personalized thank-you notes or emails to attendees, volunteers, and sponsors.
  • Public acknowledgment: Consider public acknowledgments via social media or community platforms to express gratitude to everyone involved.
  • Feedback collection: Use this opportunity to collect feedback to improve future events.

Post-event activity checklist

  • Ensure thorough cleaning and clearing of the venue.
  • Return all rented equipment promptly.
  • Conduct a debrief session with the organizing team.
  • Send out personalized thank-you messages.
  • Acknowledge support publicly.
  • Gather feedback for future events.

Effective management of both event day logistics and post-event activities is key to the success of your bingo fundraiser. It not only ensures a smooth experience on the day but also helps in maintaining good relationships with everyone involved, paving the way for successful future events.



So there you have it, the ultimate guide to organizing a Bingo fundraiser. With a game as universally adored as Bingo, combined with the deeper purpose of philanthropy, you're setting the stage for a memorable and impactful event. Whether it's for a small local cause or a grander mission, your Bingo fundraiser can transform simple numbers and letters into real-world change.

So go ahead and roll that Bingo drum; you're not just calling out combinations—you're calling upon a community to make a difference.

The Bingo Card Creator Team

The Bingo Card Creator Team

We're the Bingo Card Creator Team, bringing you diverse, engaging bingo templates and content.

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