Fundraising With Mystery Boxes

close up basket full of red wrapped gifts
Want to add more fun and increase the excitement at your next fundraising event?  Why not let your guests take a chance on a Mystery Box or two or three?

How it Works

Mystery box chance games are perfect for fundraising because they are very simple to set up and easy for your guests to comprehend.  Basically, your guests purchase a chance to win a prize or something of value.  The prizes that they are seeking are hidden in a wrapped boxes.  It is up the guest to try to pick the right package.  You can set up your Mystery Box Chance game in a few different ways.  Below are three popular game set ups.

  1. Participants win a prize every time. With this game, each box will have some type of prize ranging in values from low to higher-priced or more desirable gifts. Guests purchase a chance then select their box and receive the gift enclosed.
  1. Set up with only a percentage of the mystery boxes containing gifts. For this game guests have a certain % chance of winning a prize.  For example, 1 in 4 or 25% of the boxes could have prizes.  The other 75% of the boxes should include a nice note stating “Thank you for your donation, it will help a specific program or cause of your organization.”  You could also include a very small gift or treat as a consolation prize.
  1. Offer one or just a few mystery chance boxes. These should be creatively wrapped and displayed. Maybe even tied to your event theme.  They have a guaranteed value of a specified higher dollar price.   Some may even include a clue as to what might be in the box.  This game is set up similar to a Chinese Raffle where your guests bid with purchased tickets on the box or boxes they are interested in winning.  At the end of the designated time period the winning tickets are drawn.  The winners are announced and the prizes are revealed.

What You Will Need

First, you will need to secure several items for prizes.  How you set up your mystery box fundraiser game will determine how many prizes you will need to secure and the values of the prizes to pursue.  Reach out to your organization’s contacts, their vendors and local businesses to solicit desirable items for prizes.  Create an attractive list or display of all the prizes with stated values that your guests could win.

Next, you will want to obtain several boxes.  They can all be the same size, where the box contains a card with the name of the prize or a corresponding number to the displayed prizes.  You can also get several sized boxes and enclose the actual prizes.  Either way you need wrapping paper, ribbon or bows to attractively wrap them for your game display. Smaller boxes can be placed in baskets where guests can reach in and pick out a box.   For larger or assorted sized boxes, you may want to use a few colors of wrapping paper and ribbon to create a striking and enticing display.

You will want some type of raffle ticket to sell the chances.   Pricing will be determined by the value of the prizes, the number of tickets you are selling, what your fundraising goal is and what your audience would be willing to pay.  You may want to offer special pricing for purchasing more than one chance.  For example, 1 ticket for $10 or 3 tickets for $25 can encourage patrons to buy more than one chance.

Before implementing your game, check out your state and/or local laws regarding raffles and games of chance.  Each state has its own rules and regulations that you will need comply with.  These rules can be found with your State Gaming Commission or your State Website.

Mystery Box Game Example

We helped coordinate a sweet mystery box game at a chocolate tasting event.  To tie into their theme we secured donations of 100 small chocolate sampler boxes.  A beautiful ribbon was tied on and a small envelope with the prize or message was slide under the ribbon.  They set their game up with 25% of the boxes containing prizes.  Twenty-five sought after gifts were secured.  A message was included in the remaining 75 boxes that read, “Thank you for your donation to ABC organization. Enjoy this sweet treat for your kind support.”  They priced their chances at 1 for $20 or 3 for $50.  Their goal was to raise $1,500 from this game. They were successful in selling most of the mystery boxes and offered a special package price on the remaining few.  They exceeded their goal generating an additional $1,900 for their fundraising event.

How you set up your Mystery Box game is up to.  You can use one of the fundraising ideas above, combine two or add your own twist that will work best for your audience.  At the end of the evening, any unsold boxes can be auctioned off to the highest bidder.  Add this fun idea to your next event and take some mystery out of your projected revenue.  Let us know how it goes or if you have any thoughts to share on what worked well for your group.


  1. Laurie says:

    I am wondering if anyone has tried a variation on this idea that was just suggested to me. At our upcoming annual gala we run a silent auction and also have two higher value items that are raffled off. Instead of having volunteers selling tickets throughout the evening (as we have done in the past) it was suggested that we prepare small (jewelry size) boxes with raffle ticket(s) inside and have them near the doors where guests will enter. The idea is to sell the boxes for $20-$25, get the guests engaged right away in the excitement, not have to “bother” them later in the evening with raffle sales. Has anyone tried this format?

    • Pamela Banks says:

      Hello Laurie,
      That is an excellent idea. My name is Pam. I live in Las Vegas. I to hold silent auction fundraisers for my non-profit. However, I have a lingerie line also and this upcoming Feb 03′ I will be hosting my first lingerie fashion show. I will implement this at my event and I will let you know how well it turnt out. Thank you for sharing this idea. I absolutely love your idea!!

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