Elsewhere on this site you can read about Omaze and the odds of winning a house or other prize in one of the company’s competitions. This page is a look at how much of the money raised by such prize draws actually makes its way to the charities that it is associated with. Omaze started life in America before making its way over to our shores, with the US government classing it as a ‘for profit’ business. In other words, it makes no bones about the fact that it is making its founders rich, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t do some good.
Omaze asks people to make a donation towards a charity, taking a percentage of between 12 and 20% per campaign that it runs. At the same time, charities, such as the Teenage Cancer Trust, Blood Cancer UK and Dogs Trust, are all given hundreds of thousands of pounds towards their cause. The amount raised differs from charity to charity, of course, but the main point is that worthy causes benefit from Omaze’s move to raise as much money as possible. To date, the people behind it claim that they have raised more than £115 million for charities around the world.
How Omaze Raises Money
Omaze was founded in 2012 by Matt Pohlson and Ryan Cummins, who decided to start it after attending a charity fundraiser in which the highest bidder got to win the prize. They realised that that limited how many people could take part and how much money could be raised, feeling instead that there was a better way to fundraise. They worked at creating a network of celebrities, with the likes of George Clooney, Brian Cranston and even Pope Francis being amongst the people that they could call on. Given Pohlson is the son of a fundraiser, it perhaps isn’t all that surprising that he put charities at the forefront of what he decided to do.
The company buys luxury houses and other prizes, furnishing the homes and paying the stamp duty on them before putting them up for the raffles. The prize draws then need to cover the cost of the prize, with whatever is made on top of that going to the charity, minus the commission that Omaze takes. Usually, a prize draw is done in association with a specific charity, which rotates from draw to draw. In 2014, for example, Omaze offered punters the chance to appear in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, taking donations of at least $10 on the way to making more than $5.3 million for UNICEF.
How Much Each Charity Has Made to Date
At the time of writing, Omaze has worked with 10 different charities in the United Kingdom. Each of them has been involved with a different prize draw, giving the company the chance to raise money for the charity as well as for itself. As you can imagine, both the good cause in question and the prize on offer tends to contribute towards how much is raised by each of the competitions but forward by Omaze. Here we’ll have a look at both factors to determine how much has been made by Omaze since it launched in the UK:
House in the Lake District for Dogs Trust
In 2023, a raffle for a house in the Lake District drew to a close, with Omaze confirming that the winner was a widower from Glasgow. The prize on offer was an 18th century house worth £2.5 million, boasting a tree-lined garden and stunning scenery all around. The winner was 58-year-old, Grant Carson, who had lost his wife Ruth in 2011 and was planning to get a dog after spending £100 on 850 entries. In addition to the house, which had the stamp duty and other fees paid on it, Carson was also given £100,000 cash.
Omaze partnered with Dogs Trust for the draw, allowing the public to support the work that the charity does for our four-legged friends. The money was used to help more dogs find their forever homes, with vital funds raised as a result of the prize draw for the house in the Lake District. The question is, how much money did the draw actually make for the dog-based charity? Those who entered the draw helped make a good chunk of money for the cause, with Carson being the ultimate recipient of the prize at the end of it all.
Money Raised: £850,000
Luxury Villa in Marbella for Teenage Cancer Trust
When Omaze offered a luxury villa in Marbella, it did so as part of its first ‘Superdraw’, which involved a prize outside the United Kingdom. When Mark was told he’d won, he discovered that he was now the owner of a £2 million villa that had the stamp duty and legal fees paid for. In addition, he also had £250,000 in cash, which he was told about over Zoom because he was out of the country with work at the time of the draw. He claimed it was his ‘persistence’ that had paid off, having entered nine Omaze draws prior to this one.
Local estate agents estimated that he would be able to earn about £100,000 a year from renting the property out, thanks to the high-end nature of the property. It has four bedrooms and bathrooms, a rooftop solarium and ample parking. The draw was used in order to make money for the Teenage Cancer Trust, with the money raised referred to as ‘truly staggering’ by the Director of Engagement for the charity, Paul McKenzie. The money will be used to help young people with cancer get through the toughest of times.
Money Raised: £800,000
House in Kent for Global’s Make Some Noise
Sometimes, Omaze is able to help numerous smaller charities by working with one bigger one. That is what happened in the case of the house draw in Kent that was done in association with Global’s Make Some Noise. Make Some Noise works with over 100 smaller charities across the United Kingdom, helping to improve the lives of disadvantaged people in communities around the country. It allows a huge difference to be made and a wealth of different people to be helped in countless different ways, which is why Omaze worked with them.
The draw that was done in order to help the charity out involved a fully-furnished house in Kent that was worth £2.5 million. Standing on the beach front, it was, as with all Omaze houses, in a situation where the legal fees and stamp duty had been paid. The winners also took home £50,000 in cash, meaning that there wasn’t an immediate need to sell it in order to have some money. A lady called Jade won, declaring that it would be ‘life-changing’ for her and her partner, saying, “I never thought this could happen to us.”
Money Raised: £750,000
House in Cornwall for Blood Cancer UK
The aim of Blood Cancer UK is to one day find a cure for blood cancer. That is obviously a lofty ambition, which explains why the charity needs to raise as much money as it can to support its research. It was also hoped that it would raise awareness of blood cancer as a condition, given the fact that many people that have blood cancer aren’t diagnosed quickly enough. The Waterhouse, in Rock was valued at £3 million when Omaze launched the competition, overlooking the Camel Estuary.
It was set in more than five acres of land, boasting an open-plan kitchen, dining and living room as well as a pantry, a foyer and an atrium. The four bedrooms each had an en-suite, with Cornwall being chosen as the location for the prize draw after people consistently said that was where they’d like to own a dream home. It was won by 58-year-old Uttam Parmar, who later put the house on the market for £4 million, having won the prize draw after paying just £25 for a single ticket to win the Cornwall home.
Money Raised: £1 million
Cotswolds House for the RSPCA
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is one of the UK’s long-running charities, which plucks the heart-strings of those that love our furry, spiky and scaly friends. The house that was offered for the draw was estimated to be worth £3.5 million, built using local stone and timber and having a tennis court, sauna and cinema room all within the confines of the property. Winners not only won the house, including stamp duty and legal fees having been paid for, but also £50,000 in cash.
Susan Havenhand, a grandmother of ten, won the house. She bought her ticket for £10 after seeing an advert for the draw on television on the final day that you could buy tickets. She entered because she had always been a support of the RSPCA, with the money raised allowing the organisation to continue to respond to cases of cruelty and neglect. In one year alone the charity responded to more than a million phone calls, investigating 57,000 incidents and caring for more than 40,000 animals.
Money Raised: £1 million
Lake District House for Alzheimer’s Research UK
Sometimes nice things happen to good people. Catherine Carwardine was working as a nurse when she was told that she’d won a £3 million dream home in the Lake District. Perhaps understandably, she thought the entire thing was an elaborate April Fool’s joke when she was given the news, with the 59-year-old using a code in order to but 120 tickets for just £20 on Valentine’s Day. The couple, who have four children, won the home in the year of their 25th wedding anniversary, with Alzheimer’s Research UK being the beneficiaries.
The charity itself works to bring an end to the heartbreak caused by dementia, with the prize draw helping to draw attention to its work. Adverts for the draw appeared in breaks on shows such as Gogglebox and Good Morning Britain, with more than 1,500 people signing up to the charity’s newsletter as a result of the campaign. Given the fact that dementia is one of the leading causes of death in the UK, it is no surprise that Omaze wanted to work with it to help bring in as much money as possible for the charity.
Money Raised: £1 million
Five-Bedroom House in Ascot for Cancer Research UK
One in two of us will get cancer in our lifetime. It doesn’t matter how many times you hear that statistic, it doesn’t get any less shocking. Cancer Research UK is looking to accelerate progress so that three in four people are able to survive their cancer for at least ten years, with a target of 2034 in place for that to happen. With that in mind, the teaming up with Cancer Research UK was something of a no-brainer for Omaze, who offered a £3.5 million mansion in Ascot as the prize in the draw making money for the charity.
The house was eventually won by Becca Pott, who bought a ticket after seeing an advert for the draw on television. Her husband, Ben, had previously bought tickets for all of the draws but forgot on this occasion, which worked out alright as Becca bought a £10 ticket bundle and ended up winning. It allowed the pair to move ‘somewhere bigger’ with their daughter Eva, who was due to spend her first birthday in a two-bedroom flat before moving into a mansion. Becca said, “We think the partnership between Omaze and Cancer Research UK is fantastic as it’s raising money to help the charity continue its incredible work.”
Money Raised: £500,000
Wimbledon House for Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity
When Heekyoung Jin’s son was two months old, he was diagnosed with a rare condition that resulted in an irregular growth on his chest. A month later, he underwent life-saving surgery at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital, saving his life. Ever since, Ms Jin kept GOSH close to her heart, as did her partner Tom Hall. When Omaze offered the chance to win a house worth £3.5 million in Wimbledon, Jin bought a ticket bundle worth £25, not believing that she’d win but hoping that she’d be able to help the hospital in some small way.
Six months later, it was revealed that Jin had won the house, which had all legal fees and stamp duty on it paid and also came with £20,000 in cash. It meant that they could move out of their one-bedroom flat in Wimbledon to a five-bedroom property in the same area. The money raised from the draw was used for the likes of state-of-the-art medical equipment as well as helping pioneering research and support services for the children and families that end up in Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital.
Money Raised: £500,000
Devon House for NSPCC’s Childline
When a house designed by award-winning architect, Guy Greenfield, came on the market, Omaze moved in to buy it for one of the company’s prize draws. Located in Devon, the house boasted an infinity pool and five double-bedrooms, being located on a clifftop with amazing views of the ocean. Glen Elmy, a 54-year-old foundry worker from the midlands, was suffering at the time, having lost his father-in-law and seen his son made redundant. As a result, he chose to spend £25 to enter the draw and ended up winning.
He said, “We absolutely love the house. If I could have designed one from scratch, it would look just like this. It’s like something from a Bond film.” Not only did he win the house and the money, he also helped to raise money for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children’s Childline. The money allowed Childline counsellors to be there to help even more children and young people to get through difficulties that they face, giving them someone to talk to when they don’t always have that at home.
Money Raised: £1 million
Cotswolds House for Prince’s Trust
Darren Wordon was living in Bath and working as an IT consultant when he decided to enter the Omaze draw for a house in the Cotswolds. The six-bedroom country retreat was located in a hamlet on the outskirts of Chipping Norton and valued at more than £2.5 million. Set in 2.3 acres, it also had a two-bedroom detached cottage on the grounds. Having seen a draw for the cottage on television, Wordon entered for £25, getting 40 entires as a result. He and his wife Mandy won the draw, later putting the house on the market.
As well as the house, which followed other Omaze draws in having the fees and stamp duty paid for, he was also cut a cheque for £10,000. At the same time as entering the draw, Gordon’s money also went towards helping the Prince’s Trust, which works to change lives of young people. The money raised was put towards helping youngsters be supported into education, training and even jobs. One-to-one support, advice and guidance was given to those that were helped by Prince’s Trust as a result of the money.
Money Raised: £500,000
Total Amount Raise by Omaze
Omaze is constantly offering prize draws, including not only houses but also smaller prizes, such as cars. As a result, the figure that we’re able to give here is just the latest amount raised for charity at the time of writing, as opposed to the exact total figure that has been given out to charities by Omaze since its inception. Even so, it is fair to say that the company has done good work in terms of helping people and drawing attention to some causes that might not otherwise have got the same level of publicity without being included in the draw. Here is how much money has been made from the draws to date:
|Teenage Cancer Trust||£800,000|
|Global’s Make Some Noise||£750,000|
|Blood Cancer UK||£1 million|
|Alzheimer’s Research UK||£1 milion|
|Cancer Research UK||£500,000|