Raffle Fundraising Tips from a Holiday Hero

Thanks, and a tip o’ the hat to “Impact a Life” college scholarship essayist Heather Hagopian for her insightful fundraising tips on selling more raffle tickets. Heather exemplifies the true spirit of giving by starting her own charitable cause, the “Holiday Heroes Foundation.” Check out her story here.

For many years, my sister and I dedicated our spare time to fundraising efforts. Starting at the ages of eight and ten Haley and I did whatever we could to bring smiles to the faces of hospitalized children. In order to fund our efforts we sold taffy apples and chocolate, but most successfully, raffle tickets. Haley and I were ushered to our church, firehouses, police departments, and our parentsí work to sell raffle tickets and raise money for children who were not as fortunate as we were. Less than a decade later we had gone on to form a 501 (c) 3 (The Holiday Heroes Foundation). We would not be able to say that had we never thrown raffle fundraisers. Below is some of what I have learned.

There are many benefits to a raffle fundraiser. Perhaps its greatest appeal is its ability to raise awareness for a cause. Raffles are an excuse to draw people together. Be it the sellers or the buyers, all are united with reason. People love to feel empowered and raffles can endow such. Even if the raffle ticket has a small-suggested donation most people will feel as if they made a difference. That in itself is a powerful asset. To motivate and encourage people is to captivate them. When one does such, they can lead those buyers to carry out other good deeds. If people can feel a connection, they will come back and help in years to come, establishing a base of support fundamental to an organizationís success.

To maximize ticket sales, sellers and fundraiser operators must highlight what it is the fundraiser is for. If potential buyers can connect with oneís message, people will feel moved to make a difference. Inspiring others is priceless. So, in selling tickets, keep the pitch simple. People hate to be confused. With raffle tickets you want to capture attention and quickly draw light upon oneís cause. So many different raffle fundraisers permeate the market, so sales depend upon how well sellerís can convey their purpose, their mission, but most especially passion.

After the charityís/organizationís mission, the next most important element to sales is the selection of prizes. Intriguing prizes encourage and stimulate ticket sales. Money is a huge draw. 50/50 (split the pot) raffle tickets sell so well because of the way in which the customers are incorporated into the action. The purchasers of tickets are made to feel as if they are a part of the party. That is so important because a significant feature of society is the need to feel included. Cash prizes are also influential because they function to fund innumerable dreams.

With that said, cash prizes are not always a viable option. For charities and nonprofits it is sometimes easier and more effective to solicit donations for a ticketís prize lineup. In that case, before soliciting for donations, know what you are looking to receive. In other words, watch TV. Watching news programs and commercials is enlightening. Television essentially has tunnel vision, only that of the most importance makes the cut. Watching TV, one can see that at this point, hot ticket items revolve around tablets, smartphones, football, food, and cars. Play to a buyers liking. In my experience, iPads, autographed sports memorabilia and Costco gift cards have been especially helpful in selling tickets. Raffle tickets are successful in part because they offer their buyer an opportunity to walk out with more than they bought in for. The proper mix of passion, purpose, and prize can stir almost any heart to donate.

Equally important as the buyer is the seller. Volunteers must have proper motivation. Cutting sellers/volunteers in on the profits from the ticket sales, or offering top sellers prizes is a wonderful way to encourage sales volume. With that said, I do not believe it is the most effective or efficient method. The proceeds are being raised for a good cause and charities/non profits look for volunteers who share that passion. Money and prizes are material goods with merely extrinsic reward.

As great as those possessions may be, the euphoric effects are short-lived. Life boils down to the fulfillment of intrinsic needs. Humans want to feel honorable and content with themselves. They want to feel fulfilled. That is why we fall in love, cherish stories of triumph over tribulation, and cheer for the underdog. With that in mind, the best way to encourage volunteers is to offer top sellers the ability to sponsor and volunteer at events. To define sponsor, say for example that your charity helps throw parties at a hospital for sick children. Offer your top seller the opportunity to be the honorary volunteer (the sponsor of the party). Explain to the children that it is this gentleman or lady (the top seller) who made this hospital party possible.

Alternatively, offer all volunteers/sellers the opportunity to work the party and interact with the children they are raising the money for. The passion these volunteers gain, by lending a face to the mission they fight for, helps those volunteers sell tickets. The volunteersí passion for the cause will seep through their sales pitch. Regardless of what industry one is in, potential customers are far more likely to make a purchase from a person passionate about their work as opposed to someone who half-heartedly peddles goods. It is these actions of recognition, of gratitude, that best resonate with humans.

There is nothing more satisfying than knowing a) you made a difference and b) you are appreciated. Prizes are impersonal but memories can last forever.

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