Ante Up! Six Steps to Executing a Virtual Charity Poker Tournament that Drives Recurring Event Donations

Virtual charity poker events are a tremendous way to raise money for philanthropic organizations, charitable causes, and missions across the globe. These events are not only entertaining, but incredibly successful for driving donor engagement and fundraising.

The most common type of charity poker event is a No-Limit Texas Hold’em poker tournament. The game itself is not difficult to learn to play and has a wide-ranging appeal. Texas Hold’em is simple yet highly engaging, and the format of a poker tournament provides a lively, social form of competition. Everyone loves the thrill of friendly competition and chance to win a grand prize, but layer on a great cause – it’s even more rewarding.

As a non-profit organization, a charity poker tournament is an easy-to-execute, virtual event that expands your reach.

Why Charity Poker Events Are Successful Fundraisers

Charity poker events combine social fun, competition, and philanthropy all in one. Poker appeals to a broad range of participants making it easy to attract larger audiences to your fundraising event. Even for those less familiar with the game, it’s easy to get involved and have a great time while supporting your mission.

Another example of charity poker appeal is the popularity and endorsement through celebrities and athletes. Jason Alexander has been involved with many charity poker tournaments including a virtual tournament. Tiger Woods has a branded event called ‘Tiger’s Poker Night’ as part of his larger Tiger Jam fundraising drive. NFL Hall-of-Famer Jason Taylor hosts many virtual charity poker tournaments to benefit his namesake, the Jason Taylor Foundation. And Reggie Rivers, former NFL Denver, Broncos running back and Host of Raise 2021, the Event Fundraising Conference, is, well, let’s say obsessed. Here’s a clip of Reggie explaining the game to Raise attendees.

Whether you are supporting a famous name or a local cause, you’ll want your brand’s mission at the center of everything you do. Charity poker providers can help nonprofits build and host a customized micro-site with features such as:

  • Poker game options
  • Virtual tables
  • Auto table assignment
  • Late Registration
  • Branded felts
  • Player chat
  • Starting stack
  • Re-entry
  • Flexible levels
  • Sponsor carousel
  • And more!

Poker providers offer a complete, turnkey, white-label solution making an online fundraiser easy to get going. This allows you to concentrate other event details that bring your virtual fundraiser to life. Here are some fan favorite ideas that will wow your audience:

  • Donors love swag. Ship swag to your participants and think about including sponsor love, ‘how to play poker’ infographic, and a deck of branded, keepsake playing cards.
  • Live stream your event to hype your audience, chat poker terminology and etiquette, review house rules, and chat up the leaderboard. BONUS: live stream music, cool rock band, mixologist, celebrity cameo, or a comedy segment are just a few ideas to get the party started.
  • Pair a food and beverage pickup or delivery with your virtual charity poker tournament. HINT: wine or bourbon tasting kits are all the rage.
  • Don’t forget prizes for your top tables and a grand prize for your tournament winner.
  • Complement your charity poker tournament with a raffle and silent auction.


Why Virtual Works for a Charity Poker Events

The digital online space has transformed the way organizations are able to fundraise, including expanding reach and increasing a fundraiser’s ceiling. The charity poker space has seen tons of growth thanks to social media and online communities. Online poker is one of those rare entertainment opportunities that amplifies interaction and connection with your supporters. It transforms the virtual experience bringing the event into living rooms everywhere and bringing the players into the (virtual) ‘ballroom.’

Likewise, Charity poker providers have made it easy for nonprofits offering a turnkey solution.

“Poker is the perfect vehicle for raising money and awareness,” Tom Wheaton, Founder & CEO of Faded Spade, said. “Now with the ability to host fully customized charity poker events on virtual platforms, the sky’s the limit. Faded Spade is incredibly proud to have helped our customers combined to raise more than $5M with significant returns on investment.”

Hosting a virtual charity poker tournament online can be a cost-effective way to host your event, as it limits the needs for equipment such as chips, cards, tables, and chairs, as well reducing the staffing & logistic requirements.

Virtual and social poker platforms can make the online charity poker tournament completely yours, through white-label branding, logo placement, custom websites and tournaments, live streaming, interactive video, and more.

As the world continues to move towards digital connections, virtual charity poker tournaments can be a great, fun way to raise funds and awareness and meet fundraising goals.

Driving Recurring Donations at Your Event

One of the best parts of hosting a charity poker tournament is driving recurring or additional donations at your event. This tactic is called “Poker re-entry”, and it is ideal for increasing incremental donations.

In a charity poker tournament, a player buys in with a starting stack (of chips). In a virtual charity tournament, the starting stack acts as the registration or ‘ticket’ for the event. So here’s how re-entry works:

  • Once cards fly (note the poker jargon reference for cards in play), players win or lose chips in each hand,
  • If a player loses and is out of chips – they can easily get more! With an online poker tournament, players may quickly ‘buy more chips’ to re-enter the tournament and continue play.
  • In a 90-minute virtual poker tournament, ‘re-entry’ could mean double or triple the donations to your organization.

All you need to do is publish the rules of the game, levels, and re-entry opportunities. A charity poker provider such as Faded Spade could help guide you with creative ideas and poker best practices to optimize donations during your event.

Six Steps to Run a Virtual Charity Poker Tournament

Now that you understand how to use a charity poker tournament to drive revenue for your cause, we’ve put together instructions on how to execute your event in six easy steps.

Step One: Resource a Charity Poker Provider

A poker provider, specifically one that specializes in charity events and online experiences, can be extremely helpful with guiding you through the process from start to finish. Leverage their expertise to make decisions about virtual tournaments details, understand best practices, and explore options based on your goals. A charity poker provider will also provide direction on the rules of the game so that you may execute your event worry-free.

Step Two: Pick a Date and Time

Virtual poker fundraising events can be held anytime, day or night and on any day of the week. Player login is super simple and mobile friendly. It’s easy to play and easy to access from anywhere.

Be sure to add late registration options so your donors can join to play even after a tournament officially begins based on their availability. With 365 days to choose from, pick a day that works for your organization and community and one that sets you apart from the competing events.

Step Three: Create Your Microsite 

Link your charity poker site to your web site, mobile bidding software, or live stream solution. Having a larger event platform allows you to collect donor information and payments and communicate event details such as:

  • Date
  • Time cards fly
  • Late registration
  • How to play
  • Starting stack
  • Re-entry details
  • Levels
  • Game rules
  • Prizes
  • Sponsorship opportunities

Creating a micro site to complement your virtual poker also permits you to offer multiple ways to fundraise. Consider adding the following fundraising activity:

  • Raffle
  • Silent auction
  • Virtual jewelry pull
  • Mission moment
  • Live auction
  • Sponsorship

The microsite would serve as the main hub for marketing and promoting your poker tournament and fundraising opportunities.

Step Four: Market & Promote

Just like any other fundraiser, you’ll want to promote your charity poker event. Create assets and cover the bases:

  • Event invitations
  • Flyers
  • Branded site design
  • Social posts
  • Paid ads
  • Email marketing
  • Magazines
  • Newspaper
  • Radio
  • Influencer marketing

Step Five: Engage with Sponsors

Virtual poker tournament fundraising events are very attractive to sponsors. Poker ‘felts,’ site backgrounds, poker tables, and sponsor carousels provide opportunities to drive creativity and take your sponsorship packages to a new level. Consider adding live stream or interactive video to further expand sponsor engagement.

But this is a chance to think out of the box. Have fun with it. Poker is a fun game. Your sponsorship offerings should be fun too!

Step Six: Pick Great Prizes

Prizes, prizes and more prizes. Most charity poker tournaments offer prizes to incentivize play and support the event in different ways. Here are a few ideas to consider when soliciting prize gifts and donations:

  • Offer various prize levels from $5 gift cards (everyone wins) to HDTV’s (top winner)
  • Leverage sponsors for prizes donations and boost sponsor exposure
  • Offer a mid-range prize for all players at the final table
  • Identify an exciting grand prize and advertise in event promotions
  • Consider electronics, always a fan favorite
  • Determine prizes that are easy to ship or deliver via email (Hint: gift cards)

Wrapping Up!

Ready to go ALL-IN toward an event worthy of a ROYAL FLUSH? There’s NO-LIMIT to your fundraising success with these OPEN-HANDED, practical tips. The POT ODDS are in your favor.

Get going, RAISE your virtual event success and ROCK your fundraising with a turn-key, virtual poker tournament. There’s no KICKER – sit back and RAKE it in.   

Guest Author

Tara Smith

Director of Business Development

Faded Spade Poker