“3…2…1…Pop!”, Dahlia announced over the microphone. All at once in the crowded room one after the next the raffle balloons began popping. Tiny tickets of paper inscribed with numbers floated down from the ceiling to the floor; retrieved by the purchaser—the key to their winnings. The unique part about this raffle was the element of surprise, what did each person win by entering? This could only be found out by handing in their numbered ticket in at the prize table, where I happened to working that night. Each person purchased a balloon for $25 knowing that their prize would be worth at least $25, or possibly more. Gift cards to local restaurants, coffee shops, spas, gift baskets, and more were donated in-kind to support the raffle. The result: happy raffle customers, joyful from popping a balloon, building excited anticipation to learn of their winnings, and supporting a cause they feel is important.
The “Countdown to Pop” raffle was pulled together to fundraise for a youth led movement in Boston called “Youth Venture,” a program run by the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley. The raffle was the core of the event, kicking off the year and drumming up support for the program as it got underway. The raffle itself created a fun centerpiece to the night and gave attendees the feeling that they were a part of something momentous. Youth Venture works with over 300 youth, sets them up in teams to tackle community problems that matter to them. Their solution? To create a venture that will solve the problem and secure seed funding to get it off the ground.The event where the raffle took place was full of venture capitalists, young professionals, and individuals excited at the prospect to support youth as they make the dream of their own business that benefits the community come true.
I was a part of this fundraising raffle in many ways, from helping solicit and collect prizes in the community, to stuffing balloons with raffle tickets, to getting the balloons blown up for the event, and handing out prizes to the excited winners. It was truly impactful because I had never seen a raffle organized quite like this. The support from the community businesses, whether it was creating a gourmet gift basket, or donating a generous gift card of $75 to their restaurant, was inspiring. The joy on each person’s face when we handed them their prize was delightful. Usually raffles are run with the participants knowing what they will win, but this one was totally left up to surprise. Customers knew that they would receive a great return on investment because they would get something at least at the value they spent on the ticket, and possibly something worth more.
This is a raffle event I will take with me in the future. It is great for a celebratory event or kickoff because it is a light lift on the organizer and creates a memorable experience for the event attendees. It was enriching because it boosted the funds raised beyond just ticket sales to the event. The purpose of this event was to build awareness of the Youth Venture program, get young professionals on board to volunteer throughout the year with the program, and lastly raise some funds. Strategically placing this raffle at the center of the night supported our team’s effort to make it memorable and raise funds for the Boston city youth involved in the program. This is how raffles can help a non-profit in their effort to fundraise. It certainly did here.