Caitlin Rust essay
Name: Caitlin Rust
Having helped set up and run raffles before, I know firsthand how effective they can be as fundraisers. With the proper setup and consistent effort, they can easily make hundreds of dollars in a day. But raffles can be harder to run than one might think. There’s a lot of small tricks that help, though.
The main concern for raffles is, of course, maximizing ticket sales. Usually, the first method of maximizing sales people think of is advertisement. Advertisement is a broad category in and of itself, though – there are plenty of way to go about advertising raffles. Taking advantage of social media is important, since it’s so easy to spread information – the ability for something to go “viral” is what sets social media apart from other advertising platforms. But the power of word of mouth also shouldn’t be underestimated, especially when targeting less technologically fluent demographics like seniors. If the raffle is part of a larger event – my first experience with raffles was through Relay for Life, for example – then advertising the larger event is to the raffler’s benefit. It’s also possible that advertising the presence of a raffle at an event will draw in more attendees, making it mutually beneficial.
Another important factor to consider in ticket sales is the prizes. When it comes to prizes that will be raffled individually, quality is better than quantity – if you have only a few prizes, but those prizes are all unique or hard/expensive to obtain, then people are going to be more interested in buying tickets. Smaller, easier-to-obtain items generally don’t do as well because if someone really wants that item, they could simply go out and buy the item for just a bit more than buying a chance at it. This can be circumvented somewhat by selling baskets – collections of smaller items, in which case, the thing being sold isn’t so much the objects themselves as it is their collective purpose. You don’t just have, for instance, a garden trowel, which doesn’t seem to have much purpose on its own; you have the trowel, seeds, and plant food, which immediately translates to a garden in the mind of people buying tickets.
Perhaps advertisement and prizes seem like obvious things, but there is another factor that often goes overlooked – encouraging the people running the raffle to make sales rather than just take them. When kids are the ones making the sales, often the only encouragement they need is the chance to be number one; otherwise, offering extra tickets as prizes for sellers who reach certain sales goals can be a good incentive. You could even offer them the chance towards a prize only they are eligible for.
Ticket sales can also be encouraged by streamlining the process for both ticket buyers and sellers. When running raffles, common practice is, depending on whether tickets are drawn live, to either collect the ticket buyer’s information on the back of each ticket (address, phone number, etc.) or to use paired tickets – one to keep and one to enter – with each pair having a unique number. However, these methods are often annoying, especially for people who buy large numbers of tickets – which is the exact opposite of what you want. Writing contact information on the back of every ticket is tiring, and keeping track of many “keeper” tickets can be difficult. For raffles drawn and collected live, ticket sheets, consisting of one “keeper” and several entry tickets with the same number, help keep the amount of “keepers” to a minimum. If your raffle requires collecting contact information, however, a similar system can be used, in which each person has their own number attached to their contact information. Rather than writing their contact information on the back of each ticket, they just write their number. When numbers are drawn, you just look for the contact information associated with that number. Of course, there is the possibility that your raffle might not be physical at all. Today, it’s possible to hold raffles online. While setting up a webpage to host your raffle on might take some time (and be a technological learning experience!), once it’s done, an online raffle would be relatively hands-off, with most of the burden lying in advertising – and an online raffle could truly take advantage of the viral quality of the Internet for that.
I hope that the suggestions I’ve put forth here are helpful. They’re based on my own experience, collected over many years of helping run raffles both for charity and profit.