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5 Easy Steps for Hosting a Bingo Night Fundraiser

1. Gather Your Materials

In order to host a successful bingo night, you’ll need to get these 4 things:

  • The right event space. A bingo night can be held in any large room where you can put (or that already has) enough tables and chairs for the number of people you expect to come. A school cafeteria, church fellowship hall, or community center rec room often works well.
  • Supplies to play the game. Each participant in bingo night is going to need at least one bingo card (more if you want to switch cards between rounds or allow people to play multiple cards) and some small tokens or a dry-erase marker to mark off numbers as they’re called. You’ll also need one ball cage, numbered ping-pong balls, and a tray to track the numbers that have already been called in the round.
  • Refreshments. A bingo night often lasts 2-3 hours, so you’ll want to have some snacks and drinks available for your participants so they can keep their energy up throughout the event.
  • Prizes for the winners of each game!

2. Decide How to Collect Donations

When you decide on a cost to participate in your bingo night, you basically have two options. You could set a price per card per game and make your refreshment table into a concession stand. Or you could charge a flat rate that includes playing one card in each game of the night plus some number of refreshment tickets, and participants could pay a bit more to play multiple cards or get extra refreshments.

The collection method you choose will depend on your fundraising goals. Take some time to calculate approximately how much you’ll earn from each method based on the number of people you think will attend. Also, make sure that all the costs of your bingo night are covered in your existing budget, or that you’ll raise enough to cover outstanding costs and still have money remaining to put toward your cause.

3. Find the Right Caller

The most important person at your bingo night, who will make the event enjoyable and efficient, is the caller. So, you’ll want to put some thought into who that will be.

You could pick a member of your organization’s staff as the caller or find a volunteer from the community. Whoever you choose needs to be able to make the event interesting—bingo callers often add humor or their own style to the reading of the numbers—and have a strong quality to their voice. It’s ideal if your caller can project their voice without a microphone, but depending on the size of the room, you may need to add a microphone to your supply list.

4. Spread the Word

Getting the word out about a bingo night can be done in many ways. The most effective form of advertising will depend on who you expect to participate. Some examples of bingo-night communication tailored to different age groups include the following:

  • Seniors—snail mail and printed flyers.
  • K-12 studentsposters in school hallways and an email announcement sent to parents.
  • Young adults—social media posts.

If you’ve set a flat rate for the event, you could sell advance tickets online or at a table set up at your community center, church, or school. The pay-per-bingo-card method usually works better if you sell all your tickets at the event.

5. Set up the Space

In order to ensure a quick setup process, take inventory of all your bingo night materials several hours or days in advance. If you have your game supplies, refreshments, and prizes in order, you won’t have to arrive as early on the day of the event.

You’ll still want to come in a little while before the doors open, though, so you can make sure all the tables and chairs are set up the way you want them. Also, test your bingo cage and your microphone if you’re using one to ensure they’re working as they should.

Bingo Night Fundraiser FAQs

Where and how should I get my bingo equipment?

If you plan to hold bingo nights on a regular basis, you’ll want to invest in your own ball cage and sorter, cards, and markers. These are usually available online or at stores that sell games and/or party supplies.

But if you’re hosting a one-time event, you can try to borrow a bingo set from a local rec center or senior center. Reach out to a few places in your community to see who has one that they’re willing to lend out.

In the event that you can’t buy or borrow equipment, you can make your own! Download a batch of printable bingo cards from a website and laminate them so people can mark them with dry-erase markers. Then write all the numbers that appear on your bingo cards on ping-pong balls and draw them out of a bucket during the event.

What types of prizes should I give away?

A bingo night wouldn’t be a bingo night without prizes for the winners. Exactly what you choose to give away will depend on your participants’ age and your event budget (don’t get anything too expensive!).

Some prize ideas with mass appeal include the following:

  • Gift cards to local stores or restaurants.
  • Other games and related activities, like cards, jigsaw puzzles, or word search books. People who play bingo often enjoy games in general. 
  • Themed prize baskets, so people can get several items related to something they enjoy. Possible themes include “Movie Night” (popcorn, boxed candy, movie theater gift card), “At-Home Spa” (face masks, scented lotion, bath bombs) or “Local Foodie” (snacks from local businesses, cooking class gift certificate)

How can I keep participants interested throughout my bingo night?

Choosing a good caller who adds humor or an individual style as they read the numbers is the first step to keeping people engaged at a bingo night. But bingo nights allow many opportunities for everyone to get creative.

Although the most common way to win a bingo game is to get five in a row, it isn’t the only way. Play traditionally for the first few rounds, but then mix it up! Have people cover the four corners or the numbers around the edge of their board, pick some simple shapes for them to make with their markers (like a plus sign or the letter E), and for the last round, the first person to cover every square on their board wins.

You could also center your bingo night around a theme—an upcoming holiday, a decade (’70s, ’80s, etc.), or anything else that sounds fun to you. If participants dress up in the event theme, they can get an extra card or refreshment for free.

Organizations That Hold Bingo Nights

Almost any organization can host a bingo night. Having easy access to a bingo set and the right kind of event space helps but isn’t completely necessary with some strategic planning.

Bingo night fundraisers can especially benefit these organizations:

  • Clubs and community groups
  • Schools
  • Churches
  • Nonprofits