“Take-Aways” From Successful Raffle Campaigns
If you are looking for some great advice “from the field” on how to run a successful raffle fundraising campaign, you’ll appreciate the experiences and tips offered by the Allegheny Highlands Friends of NRA.
In 2015, we completed two raffles and started a third, which was completed the last week of January for the Superbowl. The first one was for our High Caliber Henry Rifle. We sold 500 tickets at $10.00 each and we sold them all. That was a nice raffle. I think the price-point was a little high, but we only had 5 months to do it and only two people on the committee sold a substantial amount of tickets.
The second raffle was to get rid of our leftover firearms from the banquet that we had in July. We didn’t sell out on this one, but we still made nearly $4,000 on this raffle. Again, we had a short turn-around time, as we drew the winners in October.
The third raffle, which we drew a winner in January of 2016, we only broke even on. I didn’t have the idea for the raffle until I saw the 4K television sale prices for Black Friday. I was thinking about raffling a television off for the Super Bowl, and we had just under three months to sell tickets. I spent too much money on ineffective newspaper advertising. If I had limited advertising costs, we could’ve made nearly $500, but it was a wash. We did get radio and newspaper exposure, though.
For the rest of 2016, we are running two raffles. A bulk bullet raffle and a Ruger rifle-Vortex scope combination raffle. I came up with these ideas in December, had the tickets printed in time for January, and we are drawing winners for both raffles, on October 1st. This allows us to take advantage of four seasons, of gun shows, flea markets and festival events. We have the opportunity to reach many people and increase our chances for success. The longer sales time frame also allows us to keep the price of the raffle tickets low. The idea is to enable people carrying pocket change-(single bills), the opportunity to make an inexpensive impulse buy. With the more expensive tickets, we ran into the problem of people not carrying much cash. People are relying more on debit cards and other electronic cash services to make purchases.
As far as success with this strategy, we are three months into selling both of these raffle tickets. The combined total cost of the merchandise is $2,300.00. This doesn’t include costs for tickets or advertising-(printed flyers), nor does it factor in table costs at gun shows or festivals, so it isn’t the true break even amount. With all that said, we have raised nearly $1,200 on the rifle-scope combo, which we are $300.00 away from paying for. The ammunition raffle has raised $640.00, which again, is $300.00 away from paying for the cost of the ammunition. These returns are from attending three events and single ticket sales. We also utilize PayPal, and have received $79.00 from online donation entries.
This early success has exceeded my expectations. We still have the meaty part of the sales season upcoming. The key has been events where people have an interest in what we have to offer. If we keep our advertising costs low, and we sell out on both raffles, we have the opportunity to net $15,000.00 – $17,000.00, on both raffles. This will allow us to advertise heavily for our main fundraiser, which is a banquet coming up in August. It will also allow us to offer patrons some unique merchandise, which will enhance their experience and keep them coming back to our fundraisers.
The take away from these experiences… First, no matter what you decide to raffle off, allow yourself enough time to be successful. The television raffle wasn’t a monetary success, because we didn’t allow ourselves much time to sell tickets. However, we didn’t lose money, and we gained an advertising ally with the local radio station. We found out about a program where they charge non-profits $10.00 per spot AND they match each spot you pay for, with a FREE ad. This will come in handy for the future, when we advertise for our main fundraiser, using proceeds from our current raffles. Second, take advantage of the sales cycle. The longer sales time frame works to our advantage because we can sell at events where people congregate and are looking for deals. Third, if possible, set your ticket price lower. This allows people with W.A.M. (walking around money), to participate with a cheap impulse buy. A ticket purchaser at a gun show in New York looked at our banner and said, “$3.00 for THAT rifle AND a scope! That’s a GOOD DEAL!”, and he bought a ticket. The downside of a low entry price is that you need to sell more tickets. Put yourself into position to reach a lot of people, and you shouldn’t have an issue raffling off a quality item.
We exclusively use A-Z Printing for our raffles. We can talk to a PERSON, if we have questions. You WORK with non-profits to keep printing costs low. Your turnaround time from order inception, to tickets at my door, is two days. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to share my experiences.
Chairman, Allegheny Highlands Friends of NRA