Episode 54: Running A Sweepstake To Engage Donors With Annie Tukman From TapKat

RTNP 54 | Running A Sweepstake

Have you ever thought about generating donations by hosting a sweepstake? (Yes, “sweepstakes” means more than one. ���

This week we are talking to Annie Tukman, the Sales Director at TapKat, a platform that runs online sweepstakes for nonprofit organizations.

Sweepstakes are great for an organization because they help gamify the donation process. This can make donating more enjoyable for your donors, increase donation amounts, help with list-building, and increase overall engagement with your stakeholders.

Our conversation was a comprehensive how-to for running successful sweepstakes—everything from how to acquire prizes to how to effectively engage your audience.

Take a listen, then reach out to TapKat to set up your first sweepstake. Don’t forget to let us know how it goes!



Go eat a delicious snack!

Go check out TapKat and set up a sweepstake for your organization.

Listen to the podcast here:

Running A Sweepstake To Engage Donors With Annie Tukman From TapKat

My guest is Annie Tukman, and she is the Sales Director at TapKat. It is an amazing organization that helps nonprofits figure out how to run sweepstakes and facilitates that action. It creates opportunities for donation list building and overall engagement. It’s a great program. I’m sure you’ve heard me talk about it before on the show.

Annie and I talked about all things Tapkat now, and one of the things that every nonprofit should know is that TapKat is there for them if they want to start trying to drive donations and build their list. It’s a jam-packed episode, full of great insights and information. We had a lot of fun. I hope you enjoy it.

Annie, how are you doing?

I’m doing great, Stu. Thanks for having me on your show.

I appreciate you taking the time to chat with me. I’m excited to learn about all the great things you’re doing over at TapKat. I know that we’ve been friends with you guys for quite a while now, but I’m excited to hear more about your story and how things are going over there.

I’m happy to be here and share. We’ve got a lot of great successes, some tools, and tips to share with your audiences.

Why don’t we start off by telling our readers a little bit more about what TapKat is and what do you do for nonprofits?

TapKat is a software company, and we are running fundraising sweepstakes for nonprofits. Before I tell you more about what we’re doing, I want to stop for a second and talk about sweepstakes because a lot of the times in the nonprofit world, sweepstakes and raffles get interchanged when they are two different types of contests.

It’s important that we’re labeling them the right way because raffles are considered gambling. Raffles are regulated at a state level, which means every state is going to have different rules on how they want raffles run in their state because they’re gambling. In some states, it’s 8 or 9 right now don’t even allow raffles. They are illegal in some states.

What’s the difference between a raffle and sweepstakes so that people can wrap their arms around it?

Sweepstakes have no purchase necessary to enter into the contest. That’s different from a raffle. With a raffle, every single person who enters the contest is going to be buying a ticket. Sweepstakes have this alternative method of entry for somebody to enter into the contest. They have people who are entering with a donation.

Often in the nonprofit world, sweepstakes and raffles get interchanged when they are actually two different types of contests.

There’s no purchase necessary to enter. These sweepstakes contests are legal in all 50 states. You can cross state lines with them, which is important when you get to marketing a campaign, and there’s cashflow throughout the campaign. With a raffle, you have to segregate funds and hold onto them until the end of the campaign. With sweepstakes, the funds coming into a contest are readily available for nonprofit use.

One of the unique things about the TapKat model is that it’s also driving donations and trying to get people to participate in the sweepstakes based upon a level of donation that has a ticket equivalent component to it. Is that still the current model?

We have the free entry method, but we see 98% to 99% of folks are purchasing tickets. It’s a small pot. 1% to 2% of the tickets in the contest is free. It’s small, and there are so many benefits to sweepstakes that you get with this little change or difference between the sweepstakes and the raffle.

Are the donations still tax-deductible for people?

We are not CPA. We recommend that our nonprofits take the stance that we’re going to give the donor everything they need to take to their tax accountant. Their tax accountant can determine whether or not that donation is tax-deductible or not.

It may be different in different states. It’s what I’m knowing there.

It can be different for different tax situations as well.

Essentially, people set up a campaign. Is it donations to participate in that sweepstakes?

Our nonprofits are giving away some incredible prizes. It’s unfortunate that we at TapKat can’t enter to win some of these because they are so cool. We’re drooling over a lot of them. We’ve got a Ronald McDonald House in Denver. They’re giving away a conversion van, same with Junior Achievement of Northern Indiana. They’re doing a conversion van that looks amazing. We got Paradox Sports here in Colorado, giving away a teardrop trailer, some great cars, great experiences. All of these prizes are exciting. It’s fun for donors and us too.

I don’t want to get too far ahead of things. Feel free to back us up. What are the types of prizes that you’ve seen work well?

We have seen experiences and trips do well. We had Fargo Air Museum in North Dakota do a side-by-side, and they blew it out of the park. They did such a great job on that campaign. It’s anything desirable for donors. What we’ve seen that hasn’t worked or things that are every day, like for some reason we haven’t seen trucks do well. Any development director who’s reading can look behind them and see all the baskets from 2020, the silent auctions that didn’t sell. Those are not going to do well in a campaign like this, either.

RTNP 54 | Running A Sweepstake
Running A Sweepstake: What’s kind of cool is we’re not seeing a lot of donor fatigue inside these contests. Through the duration of one single sweepstakes campaign, 14 to 22% of folks will donate multiple times.


It’s something different and unique. You customize the ticket.

Along those lines, it’s something that is unique, but we’ve also done trips to Napa Valley that have done well. It’s something to get interest from donors.

We’d like to talk about not only the engage phase but the inspire phase of audience participation. Do you have any data on ongoing participation after sweepstakes in terms of getting new donors and keeping them in the fold? Do you have enough data to be able to speak about that?

A good example is the Shelby American Collection Car Museum in Boulder, Colorado. They are on their sixth sweepstakes with us. Every year, they give away a similar prize. They’ll do a new Shelby Mustang, and they are seeing a high percentage of folks who are donating into the contest one year are also donating the next year. We’re not seeing a lot of donor fatigue inside these contests, but we’re also seeing that 14% to 22% of folks will donate multiple times in that one campaign through the duration of one sweepstakes campaign.

The nonprofits own all of the data from the campaigns themselves so they can continue to reach out to those donors throughout the year, even if a campaign isn’t running after that. Is that right?

That’s correct. I’m going to jump back to the Shelby American Collection. When they started off their first sweepstakes, they had 800 donors in their email database. It did not mean for them that they had 800 active donors. Ten of them were active donors. Throughout the years, they have built that list year after year, and now they have about 40,000 people in 6 years on that list. When they do an eBlast now out to that base, they’ll see between $40,000 and $60,000 come in for their campaigns.

That list-building component is fascinating. Are those people tend to be active other times of the year, or are they pretty much sweepstakes-type donors at this point?

That museum is a special case because almost their entire budget is run on these campaigns now. They run them annually for about 11 to 12 months. Most of the people who are on that list are donating through that campaign back to the museum.

As they’ve run more campaigns, I’m assuming that their campaigns have been more successful. Can you speak to the growth? You said you’ve run five campaigns this far.

They’re on their sixth campaign. Their first one started off at about $235,000 gross donations. It went to $357,000, $435,000, $533,000 and then in 2020, they raised a $1.3 million.

That’s some amazing growth. That is outstanding.

It’s inspiring to see what they’ve accomplished with their sweepstakes. Their nonprofit was underwater because they are a car museum that was focused around one man. For all of you that have seen Ford versus Ferrari, they’re about Shelby Cobra and GT40. Carroll Shelby used to have a big gala where he would attend, and it would bring in $50,000 or $60,000, which would be barely their operating expenses for the year and keep them going. When he passed, they needed a new way to raise funds for that museum.

Sweepstakes and raffles are no risks to a nonprofit because they are not purchasing the prize until the end of a campaign, only if they hit the minimum that they want to raise.

As with the Shelby American Collection, our nonprofits that are seeing the most success are the nonprofits that are using that data that’s coming in each year. They are running a campaign with a similar prize, remarketing to the folks that have already donated, and doing some additional marketing on top of that to bring in more funds to have these campaigns grow. When somebody does make a donation on the platform, the donor’s data goes into the nonprofit’s database. They have access to that at any time.

It’s a real list-building opportunity, as well as a donation tool. Those are the two of the core benefits that come out of running a TapKat campaign. For most nonprofits, they’re trying to build both of those items.

It’s neat and great to think about this as a way to incentivize new donors to come into a nonprofit because somebody who might not have known about a particular nonprofit but they’re excited about the prize can make a donation here. Now the nonprofit has an opportunity to reach back out to that person and inform them about their mission.

One of the things we talk about a lot, particularly on donation pages, is reinforcing the value proposition and being this idea of why should a donor give to this particular nonprofit, a different nonprofit, or no one at all. I would imagine the prize itself is certainly a huge draw, but nonprofits in the Tapkat system can reinforce all the good they’re doing and how this donation, on top of the opportunity to win a prize, is going to make their donors feel. Weaving that narrative into the structure of that sweepstakes is a valuable opportunity to get that mission out there.

We have a section on each campaign page where a donor can come on, learn about that nonprofit for a couple of paragraphs, have the opportunity to go to their website, and learn even more about the nonprofit and the opportunity to contact them.

How much do, on average, nonprofits need to invest in TapKat? What does TapKat cost, and what is the usual marketing budget for a campaign?

One thing that I love about this type of fundraising is that there’s no risk to a nonprofit. There are no upfront costs and fees associated with setting up a campaign site. If nonprofit sets up a site and, for whatever reason, they don’t raise any money, they’re not out any money either. We charge a transaction rate for a nonprofit to run a campaign with us, and that is a 10% transaction rate.

How does it works is as soon as somebody makes a donation that gets pulled out, we use Stripe as our payment processor. Their processing fees get pulled out, and the rest goes into the nonprofit account. Funds in these campaigns are readily available for a nonprofit to use. We’re not escrowing any funds. There is cash in their accounts. If they have some overhead they need to cover or want to put money back into the campaign to do some outside advertising, they can do that. Funds are there for the nonprofit.

Do you see typical marketing spend that you recommend for a campaign based on prize size or potentially on how much they’re attempting to raise?

It’s dependent on the nonprofit and what the prize is. Very roughly, I can tell you that 20% to 25% of the gross expected raise can sometimes be appropriate for a nonprofit on their first campaign to expect to spend towards marketing expenses.

Walk someone through the decision-making process in terms of the things they need to wrap their arms around, budget for, and maybe even do to create the best opportunity for a successful campaign.

RTNP 54 | Running A Sweepstake
Running A Sweepstake: Successful nonprofits use data that comes in each year, run a campaign with a similar prize, remarket to the folks who have already donated, and do additional marketing to bring in more funds to grow these campaigns.


When I start working with the nonprofit, we’ll talk first about timing. As we’re getting out of COVID-19 and back into events, a lot of nonprofits are wanting to host events. It’s so fun to draw the winner of a sweepstake at an event because a lot of people will have participated. It’s another fun thing to do at an event. Sometimes that timing doesn’t always work out. It’s also appropriate to launch at an event if that’s how it looks best for a nonprofit. We have nonprofits who don’t run any events and run these sweepstakes successfully.

There are a couple of options there, but timing is the first thing to look at and think about how much money the nonprofit wants to raise. If they need to raise $10,000, will they might be able to do that in two months with a particular prize? We have a nonprofit, the New Jersey Audubon. They ran these ten-day contests with us a couple of times a year and raised about $10,000 in ten days.

Are there prizes like spotting scopes and things like that? What are their typical sweepstakes prizes on a short campaign like that?

They do spotting scopes and Cape May Festival. They’ll do a trip out to Cape May. I’ve only seen the pictures, but it looks amazing.

What are the next steps in terms of getting a campaign off the ground?

Once a nonprofit has an idea around timing and how much they want to raise, the next thing to look at is prizes. Prizes are dependent on a couple of different things. It doesn’t always correlate with the nonprofit’s mission. We have some nonprofits who give away cars that are not doing anything related to cars. We have some nonprofits who want to tie prizes into their mission in different ways. The great thing about prizes is that unless they are donated, they are on consignment. Another reason why these campaigns are no risks to a nonprofit is they are not purchasing the prize until the end of a campaign, only if they hit the minimum that they want to raise.

If you had an environmental or an outdoor nonprofit and wanted to give away sprinter vans and spare van conversions. If you wanted to give it away that prize, you wouldn’t have to come up with $100,000 or whatever that particular prize might cost upfront. You can buy that on commission. As soon as you get the raise you were looking for, you put that order and purchase the prize itself. Is that how that works?

That’s right. Sprinter vans got a special clause to them because now, there’s in such high demand that a lot of these conversion companies are selling build spots. Those build spots can sometimes be a year or a year and a half away. It’s a good time if a nonprofit is thinking about doing a conversion van to find a company they want to work with.

Some of these companies will hold a build spot for them. Some of them wanted a little bit of a deposit, which might be $5,000 or something small like that. It’s not huge. If a nonprofit run their campaign for a year, and then at the end of the year, the build spots may be only three months away. It’s not as bad as waiting a year and a half for a build spot. There are other prizes like the side-by-sides, and some of the cars are still on consignment. Those will be ready for a donor at the end of the campaign. When they win the prize, they’re going to go pick up the prize, and it will be a little bit more immediate than getting a conversion van.

In terms of the nonprofit’s responsibility after the fact, are there taxes involved in this process that the people need to be aware of? Are the nonprofits potentially putting any of their donors into any strange situations in terms of viability with winning a larger prize?

This is true for a raffle as well. If a prize is over $5,000, a donor is responsible for paying the taxes unless the nonprofit chooses to cover the taxes. The taxes are 24% of the fair market value of a prize. As you can imagine, a $100,000 conversion van can be pretty high for some people if the nonprofit chooses not to cover that. There’s always a cash alternative in case somebody wins the prize and can’t pay the taxes on it or choose not to pay the taxes on it. They can get a great cash prize alternative instead.

Is the cash prize usually the equivalent amount or a lesser amount? How do people handle that?

It’s not always about the prize or the size of the nonprofit.

It’s usually a little bit less than the fair market value of the prize.

Do any nonprofits weave a cash component into the prize itself to help cover the tax burden?

The Shelby American Collection is one of those. They are throwing in $25,000 on top of the car. Believe it or not, a Shelby Mustang is a $100,000 car, the new ones. It’s a beautiful car. It’s stunning. It has 760 horsepower. I don’t know what I would do with that. The winner will get the taxes. On top of that, that cash for the taxes.

There are a couple of different ways to handle that. What happens if the sweepstakes don’t go as one had hoped and don’t raise enough to either cover the cost of the prize itself or don’t raise enough based upon what they were hoping to raise?

For all nonprofits that we work with, we recommend setting a minimum on the campaign for this reason. If they don’t raise enough money to cover the cost of the prize, we set the minimum on a prize on a campaign, roughly two times the cost of the prize. If they don’t reach that minimum, the net donations will be split 50/50 between the nonprofit and winner.

If they had a $100,000 prize, you’d set the minimum at $200,000, and let’s say they only raised $100,000. The nonprofit would take $50,000, and the winner would take $50,000.

There is always a winner in these contests. There’s never a situation where everybody’s getting a refund. There’s always going to be a winner, and that winner is going to get a cash prize instead. That happened in our several years of being in business, and we’ve only heard good things from the winners. They’re excited to get a check and didn’t get the prize that was advertised, but they did get a check.

Are there any categories of nonprofits that you’ve seen do well in this or caution to stay away from this type of engagement, or does it all depend on the prize?

There are so many factors here because we had nonprofit traveling stories run a campaign with us and have one executive director. They raised $20,000 on their campaign, which was exciting for them. We’ve seen small nonprofits that do well, and then we’ve seen large nonprofits like we’re running a campaign now for JDRF, and it’s taken off.

It’s not always about the prize and size of the nonprofit. Sometimes it can be important that when a nonprofit comes to us and want to run a campaign that has the staff time or have somebody who’s going to stay on this, do the promotion and send out the emails. It’s not something that does take. It’s not a full-time job for a staff member. This isn’t a 40 hour a week campaign. When they look at doing this, I would recommend that a nonprofit dedicate a couple of hours a week to a staff member to dedicate putting towards their sweepstakes campaign.

What are those activities typically? Is it running Google Ad campaigns, posting to social media, or is there some engagement component that you’ve seen work well once people have taken that step to donate?

RTNP 54 | Running A Sweepstake
Running A Sweepstake: 20 to 25% of the gross expected raise can be appropriate for a nonprofit on their first campaign to expect to spend towards marketing expenses.


The nonprofit’s marketing side looks like social media posts sending out emails to their base or connecting with sponsors. It looks like calling you guys at Relish and getting some help as well on putting together an email campaign or doing some Facebook ads. It’s like any fundraising campaign. It’s a little bit of everything that needs to be going on to have a successful sweepstake.

Do you have any tie-ins between TapKat and content or customer relations management tools where you can put people into email automation if they are getting active in a campaign?

We have on the back-end dashboard that a nonprofit will have access to their sweepstakes. They will be able to download their donor data as CSP. Whichever CRM they’re using out there, they can throw that data right into that CRM and start marketing to them.

They can do that as frequently as they prefer during the course of that campaign. There are no delays in access to data or funds. People can jump right in and use those items how they see fit.

As soon as somebody makes a donation, they’re going to be in that data set. The nonprofit will have the ability to shoot him an email or whatever they would like to do.

Considering this, it sounds like it’s pretty straightforward to get going for a nonprofit. Do they need to contact TapKat and ask more questions? What’s the typical onboarding process look like?

They can reach right out to me. I would love to chat with them and see if it would make sense for them to run a campaign. Onboarding now is pretty quick. They got to buckle their seatbelts and get ready for the campaign ride. As soon as we get a site up and have all the information we need from the nonprofit, we’ll be ready to start fundraising. It’s a quick turnaround. What we recommend is that a nonprofit has a marketing plan in place and is ready to go when we hit the live button on the sweepstakes so that they are raising funds right off the bat.

What do you recommend as part of that marketing campaign?

Marketing can be prize-dependent. We offer a lot of guidance when it does come to marketing, depending on the prize that a nonprofit is choosing to run with. TapKat does negotiate rates with third parties on advertising. We’ve got some organizations or businesses that can help a nonprofit with Facebook ads.

We’ve got different publications that nonprofits can rent lists from or online blogs that they can utilize space on there that has been successful for other nonprofits. TapKat negotiates those rates and passes that along to our customers, depending on which prize they have and where it would be appropriate to market that prize.

If they’re running a car sweepstake, you have potential access to some lists that might be valuable for them to send to people who might be interested in joining a sweepstake for a car. I know that Google for nonprofits has Google Grants, and if you qualify, it can release some funds for advertising. What’s your take on that? Are there any pitfalls or things that nonprofits need to be aware of if they’re hoping to use Google Grants’ money?

One of the things that we recommend is that a nonprofit put its sweepstakes on the homepage of its nonprofit. That’s for transparency on these campaigns. Any traffic they’re getting on their website can come on and see that sweepstake right away. With the Google Ad Grants, they can only go straight to a nonprofit’s URL. Since we host the sweepstakes at TapKat.com, the URL isn’t going to look like the URL that the nonprofit hosts their main website on. We’ve seen nonprofits have a lot of success using those grants that direct to the page. It’s two clicks. A donor will see that ad, click to their website, and be able to click to their campaign page.

We see the most success when nonprofits duplicate their campaigns annually or semi-annually.

I’m curious about how that whole Google Grants process works. Are people running ads that are very sweepstakes-oriented? What are the types of display ads that people are running? Do you know what has been successful?

That’s not directly my area, but they can contact me if a nonprofit is interested. I’ll find out and share some ads working for other nonprofits.

I had an idea, and I don’t know if you may already have thought of this or do it already. Have you started a Facebook group for TapKat’s sweepstakes nonprofits so people can bounce ideas around, hear what’s worked in the past, or what’s working for nonprofits running campaigns?

We are working on a marketing tutorial. We can send that out to our nonprofits so they have everything they need to market their campaign successfully. Through that, we would share some stuff that was working for other nonprofits that they could see. How do I send out an email? How do I create a 3×5 postcard to give out at my events and different how-tos through that?

It seems like that might be an interesting way to start to build a community around TapKat and enable some of these people who are coming in. I’m sure the first couple of years of campaigns they run will be a little less successful, but potentially their 3rd, 4th, and 5th-year sweepstakes will be successful. Building that community and facilitating those interactions might be an interesting way for people to engage in the nonprofit community and the new TapKat community.

I’ve talked with people on the show about TapKat in the past. We’re always having conversations over here at Relish with potential nonprofit partners about things that might work for them. One of the things we’ve noticed or recommended is if nonprofits have access to a corporate partner or sponsor that is well-aligned with their mission or even not depending upon the prizes, that can be a great asset to bring to the table when considering a TapKat campaign.

You mentioned that the Shelby American Museum had a decent mailing list but not 40,000 when they started. One of the questions or the concerns that a lot of the people I speak with have is, “What if my list is small?” One of the things that we start to look for is potential corporate sponsor-type opportunities to leverage either that marketing department within that corporate partner or access to their mailing list.

I know that you mentioned Paradox Sports is running a campaign. One of the things that we spoke with Paradox about was the fact that they have access to a lot of big corporate sponsors like North Face and people like that. Leveraging that asset can be a valuable component to bring to TapKat sweepstakes.

That was going to be one of my tips for the day. Some of the nonprofits I talked to didn’t think of this as including some of their sponsors who might be able to help them promote the campaign. They might even have a sponsor, especially during COVID-19, who can’t give financially in 2021, but they can give marketing dollars, give access, and do an email blast out to their base.

That can look in so many different ways. It could even be a law firm that they could send that out to their base through their email. A good example of this is AIARE here in Colorado, the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education. They did a sweepstake with Klim and Arctic Cat. Both of those companies are manufacturing snowmobiles and sleds.

The snowmobile that they did with Arctic Cat raised $214,000 in three months. That was getting Arctic Cat and Klim both supported the area in these two campaigns. They did so much promotion for them. It’s amazing to see a for-profit with a huge base, ability, and marketing team promote one of these campaigns. It’s incredible to see the results that can happen through that.

RTNP 54 | Running A Sweepstake
Running A Sweepstake: At the beginning of a campaign, it’s really important to look at who the nonprofit wants to target.


Are there any takeaways from how they approached that marketing that the other nonprofits might be able to benefit from? Are there any things that surprised you about how they handled the outreach?

They were so consistent and creative. They did a bunch of great videos, did emails, and had it on their website, but it was the consistency that I saw that was the most successful for this.

That consistency tends to be one of those things that, if you can nail that, you can start to make some big strides by committing to a specific cadence that is achievable. If you’re knocking it out of the park, you can up that game. Do you remember if Klim or Arctic Cat gave the nonprofit the prizes as well, or were they mostly on board from a marketing standpoint?

That’s a good question that I don’t know the answer to that. If they did purchase or donate them, I’m not 100% sure. I heard, and I’m not sure if this is 100% true. They’re about $10,000 to $12,000 prize. That’s another good example of something desirable. It’s not crazy expensive like a car. It raised $214,000 for a $10,000 prize.

It’s taking the time to think about what corporate sponsors you have and what they might be able to bring to the table. It’s not always about asking for a product, although that certainly could be helpful. Getting a prize donated would be amazing. However, if you can simply tap into these marketing teams, the lists, and the opportunity to spread that word, that’s an incredible way to leverage those partnerships.

I hear from businesses supplying some product that they do get asked all the time for donations from nonprofits. This is a little bit of a different way to approach one of these for-profit businesses that are not asking for a donation. It’s a way for the business to promote the good culture and the work they’re doing as a business to help local nonprofits or help nonprofits in the country raise funds.

I thought of something interesting. I’m on the board of the Nederland Area Trails Organization. I know we’ve been talking with you for a while about potentially running a campaign because we’d like to get a snow sled up here to help groom trails during the winter for Nordic skiing. You’re spot on that the machines we’re looking at are in that $12,000 to $15,000 range. They are not inexpensive, but they certainly aren’t $100,000, Shelby.

One of the things that would be interesting is even if the nonprofit was buying a prize from a company, asking that company to market as part of buying the prize, go ahead, leverage that email list, try and get the word out. You can make sure that you reach your minimums and go through with the purchase. That might be an interesting way to sweeten the deal on a prize that a nonprofit was going to have to secure themselves.

That business gets to turn around and sell a product.

One of the ideas that we had was, why don’t we sweepstakes off a snowmobile and buy two? We could get a price break because we’re buying two. We’ll put one in the sweepstakes and keep the other one. Taking it one step further and asking wherever we were contracting with to buy the actual equipment, have them promote the sweepstakes as well.

It never hurts to ask.

The answer is always no if you don’t ask. Are there any other pitfalls or exciting tips that you would have for a nonprofit that we have not chatted about already that you would like to share?

We don’t want to see a really small non-profit try and take on a $150,000 sprinter van the first year. We don’t want to see somebody not do well.

I might have touched on this a little bit. Where we see the most success is when nonprofits are duplicating these campaigns on an annual or semi-annual basis. If they are doing a snowmobile one year and doing a snowmobile the next year, they’re going to see incredible results. That’s what we see across the board with all of our sweepstakes.

Do you see opportunities to escalate? If the nonprofit wanted to dip their toes in the TapKat pool as it were or had some trepidation about how things were going to run. Have you seen success in a smaller campaign the first year and then going, “This works well,” and jumping into a larger campaign the following year? Do they mostly succeed if you’re trying to get into very similar prize types year after year?

My advice would be to try and stay inside of a category. Sometimes a nonprofit might not hit their minimum the first year, which is okay. They’re still walking away with a substantial amount of cash, and then next year they hit it, reach the minimum, give away a prize, and walk away with even more cash. I’m always happy to talk to a nonprofit about this strategy because it can look different for different organizations.

In theory or at least how we would approach this, it seems like it’s beneficial from an audience-building standpoint to try and stay in your category. For example, Nederland Area Trails Organization might want to stick in that outdoor spaces in terms of the prize. The 1st year we could do a small trailer, the 2nd year, we could do a bigger trailer, and then the 3rd year, we’ll do a sprinter van.

At least, you’re staying in that same category because the list that you’re building is going to be interested in either your organization, the sweepstakes, or ideally both as long as you’re not jumping around from opera tickets one year and airplane ride the next year. As long as you’re staying in that same zone, you’re able to piggyback on the progress that you’ve made year over year because the audience should be relatively homogenous.

That’s a good way to put it because we don’t want to see a small nonprofit try and take on a $150,000 sprinter van the first year. We don’t want to see somebody not do well. We would recommend a smaller trailer to start off with.

What are some of the more unique prizes you’ve seen come through the Tapkat system?

I’ve got a good one for you, and parents understand this. I don’t have children. It made me chuckle when I saw this. We had a school giveaway, a parking spot in their sweepstakes.

Is it for basketball games?

It is for drop-off and pick up.

How much money did they raise?

RTNP 54 | Running A Sweepstake
Running A Sweepstake: To hear a nonprofit talk about the experience of giving away an amazing trip or giving away is fun for everybody.


They raised about $10,000 or $12,000 on that. I remember what it was like to get dropped off at school. It was chaos. To have that parking spot, especially if you can get a parking spot for $25 to $50 for the whole year, is pretty incredible.

It comes back down to understanding your target audience. Suppose you’re running a sweepstake, trying to attract an audience to become a donor or even a volunteer, understanding the challenges they’re facing, the hardships they want to overcome, or those pain points they’re trying to alleviate. If you can come at it from that perspective where you become a solution provider for that particular challenge, you’ve done a lot of the work already.

It’s interesting to think about and put that into perspective. That might be some additional work upfront that nonprofits can do when they’re trying to select a prize is thinking about the motivations of the audience that you’re trying to reach and come up with something that’s going to appeal to those challenges or the resolutions of those challenges, at least.

It’s important at the beginning of a campaign to look at who they want to target. We do have nonprofits coming to us and saying their donor base is getting older. They’re aging out. They’re not sure what they’re going to do or how to connect with a younger demographic. I don’t want to say the conversion vans are the way to go for everything, but what a great way to connect with a younger audience and group of donors with a conversion van or something outdoorsy and fun or even Disney World. There are so many options when it comes to that.

Any other sweepstakes prizes that have come through that you can think of, or did the parking spot blow everybody else out of the water?

The parking spot was one of a kind. I don’t think we had anything quite like that.

Are people offering multiple prizes? Take the Shelby American Collection Museum, for example. Is there a single prize, or are there runner-up type prizes that are offered?

On occasion, we’ll have a runner-up prize. We have not seen in our data that that is driving a campaign and gets folks to donate more. We recommend having one exciting prize. It makes marketing so much easier. It’s hard to tell the story of 3 or 2 different prizes through a marketing campaign. It can get too much instead of having one clear, exciting desirable prize.

I can see from a marketing standpoint that that’s how that could be. Have you gotten repeat donors within a single sweepstake by adding to the prize?

We’ve had a lot of success when a nonprofit will put up a prize. Paradox Sports is a good example of this because they’ve got their trailer. They threw in a couple of some gear onto that as well. It was a great way for them to reach back out to their donor base.

They get people originally coming in for the trailer and add a fly fishing kit. It makes sense for them. There are climbing organizations, maybe a rack and rope. They reach back out to the people who have already participated and say, “This got even better. Do you want to kick back in?”

We see a lot of success with that. That has sweetened the grand place prize.

Having one really exciting prize makes marketing so much easier. It’s really hard to tell the story of three different prizes or two different prizes through a marketing campaign.

I love the idea of being able to go back to that well. Different sweepstakes have different ticket allotments per donation. Let’s say it’s $25 for 25 tickets, and then they up the prize or get people excited. It’s like that eBay model. One of the most brilliant things that eBay did was call it winning something because it taps into that part of our brains, where at the end, we’re like, “I’ve already given $25. I’ll get ten more and get a lot of my chances.”

We see this every time that towards the end of the campaign, more donations are going to come in and get bigger. Some of these contests, especially our bigger ones, take on a life of their own because of what you were talking about. It gets so exciting. It’s so fun to hear a nonprofit talk about the experience of giving away an amazing trip or a side-by-side. It’s fun for everybody.

Are there any tools that nonprofits can use on their site or that are included in the TapKat platform that do countdowns or anything fun like that that creates that enthusiasm and excitement towards the end of a campaign?

On the campaign page, we’ll put a countdown timer when it comes to 30 days. They’ll have nineteen days left. We have a presentation. If a nonprofit is hosting an event or even somebody sitting at home, they can click on the presentation and watch the numbers being drawn through our random number generator. That’s fun to see. It feels like when you’re pulling a slot at a slot machine. It’s a cool display that shows up for the donors to be able to watch the drawing.

TapKat runs all that process. The nonprofits don’t have to take care of any of that stuff. That’s great.

All they have to do is push a button, and that will draw the winner for them at the end of the campaign. It’s as simple as that.

This has been super fun. I’m excited to have spoken with you and learn more about this great system. Where can people find out more about TapKat?

Visit our website. It’s TapKat.com. Even though we have Kat in the name, we are all dog people, but we do not discriminate against cat people like you, Stu. I know you’re a cat guy.

I had a great time talking with you, Annie. One of the things I love to do at the end of all of my shows is not to have it end with a conversation but have it end with an action item because I want people to take action, go out and do something to make the world a better place, have fun, relax, or whatever it is that they want to do. After reading, what would you want our readers to do?

I know what I’m going to do. I’m going to tell the readers to go do this, “Go eat a delicious snack.”

That sounds like a good plan. I’m going to go join you. Go get a snack, check out TapKat.com and see if sweepstakes might be good for your organization. I’m excited to see if we can get one off the ground and run for a Nederland Area Trails Organization. I’m sure we’ll be back in touch soon.

Thank you so much, Stu.

Thanks, Annie.

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About Annie Tukman

RTNP 54 | Running A SweepstakeRaise cash for your nonprofit while growing your reach and captivating your donor base!

Your development team has a huge job: raise enough funds to support your nonprofit’s mission while covering salaries and overhead costs. This means that being creative with fundraising is key for the success of your organization.

But even though most nonprofits can sense this, they continue to use the same routine fundraising tactics year after year… even while dwindling funds threaten the sustainability of their organization and their future at the nonprofit.

There is a need for fundraising that excites donors, brings in funds and can be run 100% online.


In comes fundraising sweepstakes for nonprofits!

Fundraising sweepstakes are online contests where donors make a donation in exchange for the chance to win a jaw-dropping prize such as an adventure gear shopping spree at REI, a romantic Hawaii getaway for two or even a custom dream conversion van!

So, what kind of results can you expect? Well, success looks different for every nonprofit. Some organizations will raise over $1,000,000 with their sweepstakes while others will exceed their goals by bringing in $2,500. The average donation through a sweepstakes fundraiser is around $60 across the board which means all those donors who are unable to attend your high-dollar events can still participate in your sweepstakes fundraiser.

What’s in it for your nonprofit:

– There is no financial risk to your organization! With prizes on consignment and zero upfront fees, you can sit back and enjoy a few deep breaths… (which isn’t always the case for a hardworking nonprofit!)
– Your sweepstakes will attract new donors who will learn about and contribute to your mission, year after year…
– The TapKat software is completely automated and user-friendly, which means no more printing out tickets or managing paper trails.

What’s in it for your donor base:

– They get the opportunity to support your incredible cause…
– They’re entered for a chance to win a once-in-a-lifetime prize…
– They feel good knowing they’re doing their part to champion a vital nonprofit organization like yours.

I would love to take the next step with you and create a thrilling experience for your donors with a fundraising sweepstakes through TapKat!

Set up a complimentary consultation with me to see how a fundraising sweepstakes will work for your organization:

⭐️ Call me: 720.664.6462
⭐️ Email me: annie.tukman@TapKat.com