Charity poker events can be an interesting and fun way to raise funds for your non-profit organization or charitable cause. Many nonprofits have found success by replacing traditional fundraising activities with fun events people would choose to do for leisure, such as wine tasting fundraisers and charity poker tournaments. Texas Hold’em is a popular choice for a fundraising event due to the large crowds these events can draw and the substantial profit they bring in.
How Do You Organize a Charity Poker Tournament?
First, you’ll also want to check on state and local laws and regulations to ensure that you’ll be able to host a charity poker or gaming event. Usually, this is managed in the state Attorney General’s office, so that is the best place to start to ensure your event follows state and local regulations for charitable gaming, and you aren’t putting your organization at risk.
Next, you’ll need to have some poker experts and a large space for hosting the charity event. Many fraternity lodges (such as Shriner’s or VFW lodges) have the necessary permits in place, and they may also have the supplies you need. Supplies are relatively basic: tables, chairs, poker chips, and decks of cards. You may be able to find a local gaming place that would be willing to donate these free of charge as an in-kind sponsorship, for the extra exposure your event will provide.
Promoting a Charity Poker Event
One of the biggest keys to success for a poker tournament will be turnout. You’ll want to publicize the event widely and you should be able to bring in poker players from outside of your usual donor and supporter base. Create event flyers, post an announcement on your website and social media channels, and encourage employees, your advisory board, sponsors, and supporters to help spread the word. Submit a press release with all the event details and include information about how the event will raise money for your cause. Be sure to include a newsworthy angle as media is usually more prone to cover stories of this nature. In your promotional materials, in addition to the basic date, time, place, you’ll also want to include information about the level of play (i.e. this event is open for players of all levels) so beginners are not turned away thinking it is a professional event. At the event, be sure to group tables into these levels to ensure fair play (i.e. beginner, intermediate and pro). Lastly, don’t forget to emphasize details about prizes available for winners and other appealing activities such as food, drinks and entertainment.
Raising Funds at the Tournament
Your organization can raise money with a fundraising poker tournament in several ways. Many groups simply charge an admission fee, similar to a registration fee to participate in a charity golf tournament. The admission fee includes a certain number of chips, as well as drinks and appetizers. You can also host a nonprofit crowdfunding event and ask participants to raise donations or pledges for your organization. Organizations that host these events generally require a minimum amount for entry into the event. This could allow for more funds raised since you are not putting a cap on the amount raised by setting an admission fee. Your organization may also be able to collect a percentage of every pot; however, you will need to check on local and state regulations for this option. Also, winners often donate a portion of the money earned right back to your cause (and you can encourage them to do so!)
How else can you raise funds? You can also sell food and drinks as part of the event. Many organizations like to incorporate a charity auction or fundraising raffle as part of the event in order to raise additional funds and provide entertainment options and games for those taking a break from poker.
Drawing a Crowd through Prizes and Entertainment
Since participants will be required to pay to participate, you’ll want to offer additional incentives to draw in a larger crowd. This is where prizes come in! Reach out to local organizations to donate prizes and create a large prize pool. High price, desirable items are key here. Try to partner with an airline for free flights, or a Vegas casino for an all-inclusive trip. After all, you know that many of the people participating in your tournament have a passion for gambling and would love to win a trip to Vegas.
You may also want to consider food, beverage and entertainment as part of the event. Often local sponsors are willing to donate food and beverage, as it’s a great opportunity for people to sample their food. Perhaps a local band is trying to get the word out and build their fan-base. And keep in mind that sponsors and entertainers will also provide another outlet to reach potential event attendees you may not have had access to before.
Managing the Poker Tournament with Fundraising Software
One of the most important considerations when planning a charity poker event is how to successfully manage and track the money raised for your fundraising event. DoJiggy Events is a powerful event management software platform for nonprofit fundraising events, such as charity poker tournaments. With DoJiggy Events, you can easily manage the entire life cycle of your fundraising event including event promotion and marketing, sponsor and sponsorship management, online event registration, donations, detailed financial reporting, and day-of-event operations.
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Charity Poker Tournament Planning Checklist
Follow these steps to assist in your successful charity poker planning process:
Make sure legally you are able to host a gambling event at the location selected, and obtain necessary permits.
- Establish fundraising goals:
- What is the purpose of your event?
- How much money do you want to raise? What is your budget? Be sure to use a Fundraising Event Budget to assist here.
- Establish event planning timeline – you’ll want at least 60-90 days for planning any charity event and more time is better.
- Select a leadership team including: The Charity Poker Event Director, Sponsorship Director, Marketing Manager (for media relations and promotions), Prize & Gift Coordinator, Volunteer Coordinator, etc.
- Choose a tournament date and location.
- Develop a list of potential sponsors and create sponsorship packages that include promotional opportunities for business sponsors.
- Develop promotional materials including fundraising event flyers, tournament brochures, and event signage (include sponsor logos)
- Create player packages including registration instructions, tournament rules, event activities, prizes, etc.
- Set up a website for online registration and processing secure payments (This is where our online fundraising software can help!)
- Recruit players: radio, local news calendars, networking emails, sponsors, volunteers, etc.
- Send out a press release to all media. Make sure to include the reason funds are being obtained and how it will help your cause
- Create a fun and exciting environment with special activities: i.e. door prizes, fundraising raffle events, silent auction, entertainment, food and drinks
- Create a schedule for volunteers. You’ll need people to staff the registration table, games, food and beverage area, distribute prizes, event set-up & clean-up, etc.
- Choose MC for the event.
- Acquire winners’ prizes, player gift-bags, auction, or raffle items.
- Make sure you have poker chips, cards, raffle tickets (if needed), etc. These items are often donated.
- Outline a thorough Event Day Schedule.
- After the event – make sure to thank players, volunteers, and acknowledge sponsors at the event.
- Send out thank you letters & player surveys.
More Charity Poker Fundraising Resources
Charity poker tournaments are fun and surprisingly easy to put together. Just be sure to do the research to ensure your event follows state and local gambling regulations, so you aren’t putting your organization at risk.
See our blog on How to Organize a Charity Poker Event in 10 Steps to help you with your planning.