Ashley Catherine Fontones essay

Reinventing the raffle

There are several words that can bring a gasp to one’s lips, namely—the ‘F’ word.
Not just any ‘F’ word, we’re talking fundraising here.
Organizations, clubs, 501-C’s; the word fundraising will be spoken dozens of times in any given meaning. When you’re at the helm of a grassroots organization, there is nothing scarier than the thought of being unable to financially sustain your group. After all, your group may serve communities that rely on your support more than anything else.
Organizations world-wide rely on several fundraising methods. These methods may be in the form of glitzy galas or auctions, official grant applications, or private donations.
Massive events can be expensive and grants can seem out of reach to first time-organizers, or may not be an option to a group lacking formal non-profit status. Donations may seem like distant dreams to the organizer without the appropriate network.
Perhaps this is a job for the humble raffle.
A raffle does several things— it provides a spectacle, it promotes interaction, and hopefully, it raises money.
No matter how small the organization, a raffle can be the answer to a fundraising issue.
Raffles best accompany an existing event, such as an open house, gallery exhibit, recital or meeting. But a raffle need not be a form of passive programming, nor does it have to sit in the event’s shadow. A raffle can be turned into an event in itself!
Utilizing a few volunteers with a lot of personality can make all the difference. Having volunteers interact and engage with the community not only can land a few ticket sales, it can also make an impression— and grow a network. A volunteer who spends time mingling with the crowd ensures eventgoers that the group truly cares about the community and is not just there to fundraise. It also offers an opportunity for the volunteer to relay why the money is needed in the first place. Local communities will appreciate the opportunity to get to know the organization’s mission, which is especially important for newer groups.
Volunteers should be encouraged to forget the pressure of fundraising and just have a good time, knowing that any effort made is a boon to the group. Think of it as a performance, and the volunteer is center stage.
Prizes can be anything from seasonal baskets or donated art from local artists, to donated gift certificates from area small businesses. Getting out there and interacting with locals for these prizes can also grow your network, and form lasting relationships. Event attendees may get more excited about a night out at a local restaurant than a set of candles from a store. Or it may be the opposite! At the end of the day, it’s really about getting to know the needs and passions of your local community. Serving a creative community may call for prizes of colored pencils or artwork, whereas a middle class community could benefit from grocery store gift cards or a gas card. A church community may appreciate inspirational prizes and a community of car-buffs would love a free oil change. It may be worth it to have a variety of prizes on hand.
And it’s not expensive to hold a raffle. Tickets can be easily made or purchased through a supplier or party supply store. Prizes are hopefully donated by members of the group or local business community, therefore minimizing overhead even more.
Depending on how long the overlying event is intended to last, multiple raffle drawings may be held. And these drawings should be a spectacle.
Volunteers tapped to draw the winners should strive to create an audience, and encourage participation. Event attendees should enjoy the process, even if they aren’t a winner. And even more so, they should look forward to the next one!

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