Organizing a Successful Fundraising Event…As easy as B-I-N-G-O

Bingo Night for Fun and Non-Profits

Every organization needs more time and money… which is why getting people to volunteer or donate to even the best of causes isn’t easy. Wondering what you could do to make people excited about your next fundraiser?

Bingo!

Churches, schools, and a wide variety of other groups have used Bingo Night as a fun way to raise thousands of dollars for years. When you combine a good cause with cash prizes, gift baskets, or jackpots, people tend to get excited about getting involved.

And – because Bingo Night is an event – chances are they’re going to invite along friends and family.

All of which is great for your cause… but where do you start?

Advance Planning

  • Rules & Regulations

In some states, you need a license to run a bingo fundraiser – especially if you’re offering jackpot prizes. However, bingo isn’t regulated as much or at all in other places.  In fact, in all states except Utah and Hawaii, charitable organizations are permitted to use gambling activities such as bingo, to generate funds to advance the organization’s charitable purposes. You can check out your state’s charitable gaming laws here.  

  • Supplies

If you’ve never done it before, ordering supplies, can be a bit time consuming.  But with some advanced planning and some creativity, the supplies you choose will only add to the fun.

You’ll need to order or create your own bingo cards, daubers or markers, additional bingo cards for jackpot games, and raffle tickets or pull tabs if you’re including them as part of your bingo fundraiser. Use this Print-and-Go-Shopping Checklistfor some creative ideas.  In addition, it is already linked to items for ordering in Amazon to help you save time.

In addition, since the goal is fundraising, you may want to coordinate a Chinese Auction or bake sale to generate additional income at your event.

You’ll obviously want to order your bingo night supplies in advance so that you have a little cushion time to make sure you have enough of everything and it’s all in good condition.  

  • Callers

Depending on where you live and the popularity of bingo in your area, experienced callers may be few and far between.  If you can’t find an experienced caller, look for someone who is confident speaking in front of people because that’s what they’ll be doing all night.

You should also make sure that your caller – if they don’t have much experience at calling bingo games – spends at least a little time familiarizing themselves with the equipment, cards, prizes, and various games you would like to play before the fundraising event.

  • Cash and Prizes

You’re not required or necessarily expected to offer cash prizes at your bingo fundraiser, but – whatever you give – it’s important that it’s worth your players’ time and effort.  The most important thing when you are considering prizes is to also consider your audience.  Playing bingo with middle-aged adults? Consider wine or restaurant gift cards.  With kids?  Toys, art supplies, books, and trading cards make great prizes.  

If you include baskets, be sure to fill them with things people would like or would use. You can always ask around in advance or do some online research to get ideas.  Another idea to reduce costs is send a flyer in advance requesting specific items to be used as prizes.

If you do give cash, make sure to include at least one relatively big jackpot.

Remember, when your players win, don’t let them down.

  • Concessions

Most Bingo Night fundraisers last 3-5 hours. In that time, you can pretty much count on people getting hungry and thirsty. You can provide for your players and raise more money for your cause with a concession stand or some other means of selling drinks and snacks for a reasonable price.

Anticipating Attendance

A successful bingo fundraiser is likely to have 100, 200… maybe even 300 people show up to play! It’s impossible to accurately predict exactly how many people will turn out for your event, but you can usually make an educated guess.

Some of the best indicators of how many people you can expect are:

  • Have any other non-profit groups in your areas held bingo fundraisers in the last six months to a year?
  • How many people came to those events?
  • Are you actively marketing your event ahead of time or relying mainly on word-of-mouth?
  • About how many people regularly get engaged with your group or organization’s events?

A good guess at the number of people you can expect at your bingo fundraiser is essential for planning. You need to know how many people you’re expecting to know how many bingo supplies to order, how many prizes you need to provide, how much you can afford if your prizes include payout, how big of a space you’ll need, how much food to provide, and other considerations.

Not sure you’ll be able to command a crowd of 200-300?

That’s OK!  Your bingo fundraiser can still be a big winner with the proper planning and games that get people excited.

Play Time

Despite being centered around a grid, bingo lends itself to thinking outside the box.  

The games you play at your bingo fundraiser can vary in rules and structure and prizes can be made to fit your location, the size of your crowd, audience age (and attention span) and your fundraising goals.  

For game timing using standard 5×5 bingo cards and following the regular bingo rule of covering a row across, up and down or diagonal, follow these estimates per game:

1 player=about 40 minutes

10 players= about 25 minutes

50 players=about 18 minutes

100 players=about 16 minutes

200 players=about 14 minutes

500 players=about 12 minutes

1000 players=about 10 minutes

You can also create custom bingo cards of a lesser size or with a bigger call list to help adjust timing.

Early Bird Games

Early bird games are typically 3-5 games that are played before the regular games start. Early birds are usually faster-paced than the regular games and payout prizes tend to be the same as standard non-jackpot games.

You’re by no means required to include early bird games in your bingo fundraiser, but they can be an effective “advertiser” to get people excited about the rest of Bingo Night.

Regular and Special Jackpot Games

Regular and special jackpot games can begin after the early bird games have been played, or even at the beginning of your bingo fundraiser if no early bird games are played.

Jackpot games are the main event in most Bingo Night programs. More often than not, 6-10 games are played with the winners taking home various prize payouts, depending on the specific game being played.

Blackout

The rules of Blackout are self-explanatory – players go until someone bingos with a completely covered face.  Blackout is always a crowd-pleaser because the nature of the game ramps up the competition among your players.

Making It Pay to Play

Now that you know how many people to expect and have a plan for what they’ll do when they arrive, here are some ideas for how to make a little extra money at your bingo fundraiser…

  • Admission & Books

Most Bingo Night fundraisers sell admission to each player when or before they arrive for the event.

Some event organizers sell early bird game admission for a separate price. You may also choose to sell extra bingo books at a discount of the regular admission fee. Larger jackpot games are also sold for a separate admission price in many cases, as well.

How you choose to charge admission is entirely up to and your fundraising goals.

  • Raffles

Raffles are one of the best ways to make additional money at your Bingo Night event. You can choose to raffle off one or more prizes or run 50/50 raffles where 50% of the proceeds go towards the prizes that can be won. 

It’s important to note that raffles are subject to state regulation, just like bingo in some parts of the country. Find out your state’s policy on raffles before you advertise them as a part of your Bingo Night event.

  • Pull tabs

Pull tabs (also known as charity tickets) are similar to scratch-off lottery tickets, only instead of being scratched they’re peeled to reveal prizes. Due to the way pull tab boxes are assembled, each box is guaranteed to make a certain profit.

However, it’s important to know that pull tabs are more heavily regulated than bingos. Before you include pull tabs in your Bingo Night fundraiser, make absolute certain that they’re legal in your state and that you have the necessary license to sell them at your event.  Check out the National Association for Ticketing Manufacturers (NAFTM) to view the regulatory contact for your state.

If you haven’t already, take a look at the wide selection of bingo cards already available on our site. You can get started quickly and easily right here

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