When Your School District Won’t Allow Cash Prizes

Cash prizes are a great motivator for groups of all ages, especially older students who tend not to be as excited about winning toys or gadgets typically found in a more traditional prize program.

Cash prize programs are popular with high school groups while many elementary schools like to incorporate cash games like a money wheel or money machine to attempt to encourage additional selling. However some school districts have policies in place that don't allow schools to issue cash directly to their students.

If you’re in this situation, there are creative ways to get around the no cash allowed problem. Here are some ideas that may help:

Cash Prize Program

If you decide to use a cash prize program, simply substitute the amount of cash that each student qualifies for with a prize of equal value. Keep in mind that the perceived value is more important than the actual cost of the substituted prize. Alternatively, many sponsors are allowed to issue gift cards to their students.

Money Wheel

Most money wheels are set up very similarly. The odds of winning more money are obviously lower. Here's how most money wheels are set up:

  • Land on numbers 1, 2 or 5 = Seller wins a gift card or prize worth up to $5.00.
  • Land on numbers 10, 15 or 20 = Seller wins a gift card or prize worth between $5 and $10.00.
  • Land on Flag or Joker = Seller wins a gift card or prize worth between $10 and $25.00.

Set the least amount of money on the money wheel at $5 and the most at $25.

Money Machine

Win cash-equivalent prizes based on amount of money grabbed from the money machine.

  • Even though you will not give away any money, you'll still need to have your qualified sellers spin the money wheel and grab money from the money machine. For your sellers who reach the money machine level, we recommend having $100.00 ready to go at your event. If you have more than one seller who qualifies, you can keep recycling the money since you're not giving any of it away. Make sure to write down how much each seller qualifies for then provide a gift card or comparable prize.
  • You'll want to limit the time in the money machine to no more than 30 seconds. The participant may grab the money with both hands but they're not allowed to stuff the money in their pockets.

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