Like many great ideas, Echo Lotto was borne of a question.
By Jesse Green
“A couple of years ago, our business partner’s son was at a football game, and his kid asked, ‘Why can’t we just buy 50/50s from our phone?’” said founder Paul Burch.
It turned out that teenager with a smart phone was ahead of his time; Saskatchewan gaming rules stated that paper tickets were needed in order to run a raffle. Since then, the rules have evolved, and paper ticketing is no longer a legal requirement.
Enter Echo Lotto.
“For us, the 50/50 raffle was a logical step. It’s a Canadian staple and people like the chance to win and the chance to support charities,” said Burch.
Although they could not have predicted the global pandemic, Echo Lotto is growing up to be a boon for distanced fundraising. Being able to eliminate the physical part of raffle ticket sales is huge: no more peeling tickets into two sections, dealing with cash, making change, wondering if the odd ticket was dropped or blown away in the wind… and the list goes on.
The online raffle allows groups to do what they’re already doing, but better.
Eliminating contact points and spread of germs are just the start of the advantages. Burch says groups are noticing drastic differences in volunteer hours. One organization that has run a traditional raffle for many years went with Echo Lotto this spring. As always, they sold out at $20,000. The big difference was they went from 300-plus volunteer hours to just SIX volunteer hours.
“The effort required by the organization is just a fraction of what’s needed to run a traditional raffle,” said Burch.
While Echo Lotto has had most interest from regular and large raffles, they do work with groups and fundraising budgets of any size. Raffles can run for as long as one year, or as short as three periods of hockey! There is a one-off set up fee and Echo Lotto runs a percentage-based fee. They have lowered their rates since the pandemic and continue to look at ways to support communities.
“We had established organizations that weren’t able to hold their regular fundraisers that they had come to depend on. Groups were looking for ways to tap into that generosity that had become a large part of their success. We really want to impact communities and do a good thing,” said Burch.
Most raffles run between four to six weeks. This time frame gives groups enough time to spread the word through email lists and social media and it also catches a couple pay periods.
For organizations that have never run a raffle, Echo Lotto does have templates and will help navigate the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming licensing process including geo fencing requirements.
The restrictions around covid-19 have hit our lives and our economy in countless ways; and fundraising is no exception.
Stay tuned for more in our series on how to raise dollars even with the many restrictions around shared objects, social gatherings and more. Interested in grants and fundraising? Click here for our guides.