Elisabeth Catherine Barcelo essay

Raffles are a great idea to raise funds for non-profits and charities. How do I know? It could be said I am somewhat of an “expert” on the subject, having been raised in a full-time volunteer organization from a very early age. My parents were humanitarian workers when I was born, and at the age of two, when they separated, my mother, sister and I traveled to the exotic land of India. There we participated in myriad cultural and humanitarian works, including raising funds for a program offering free medical care for polio patients. Two years later, an interesting opportunity presented itself in Mexico where we lived for a time, and several years later we traveled to Eastern Europe to assist a volunteer association there. I’ve been involved in holiday singing shows at Hospitals and Institutions, presented packages and food to the underprivileged, and been involved in many other volunteer projects during my youth and teen years. Even recently, having settled down in Texas for a while to attend High School, I have participated in school clean-ups, animal shelter fundraisers, and police-led community activities, among others. So needless to say, I do have a fair bit of experience working with the wonderful folks that serve those in need.
Of course, volunteer organizations are always interested in novel and compelling ways to raise funds for their altruistic and very needed projects. That is one thing all philanthropic work has in common- the need is always greater than the provision. In contemplating and researching this subject further in light of this essay topic, I can see the tremendous potential for raffles to fill that gap. Like I was discussing with my mother the other day, the advantages are similar to the lottery, which has proven to be a very profitable venture for the states involved. To begin with, because the allocation of funds is relatively small for each participant, it is a very attractive option. If it is a non-profit raising the funds, the donations can also be written off the contributor’s taxes, if the participant or company is interested, which can be a selling point for larger or bulk ticket sales. And if the number of patrons is fairly large, as is the ideal, the prizes or awards afforded can be a very alluring incentive to participate. Of course, it seems having prizes that are attractive to the population at large would be a key factor in a successful raffle. Electronics seem to be very popular choices for prizes currently, which makes sense given the technologically advanced age in which we live. They appeal to a wide variety of individuals also, as almost all ages and sectors of society are familiar with smartphones, computers and other modern technology. They can even be gifted to a child or younger family member if so desired.
To increase the participation of a given population, it seems there are several ways to approach the issue- 1) broad venues of distribution, focusing on local media, small repeated ads in local newspapers or widely distributed periodicals like the Greensheet. 2) Utilizing volunteers in the organization for the distribution of flyers at local events, busy street corners or even door-to-door.  3) “Sweetening the pot” for the folks selling tickets would be giving them a small percentage of the ticket price, or offer prizes for greatest amounts of tickets sold. Donated prizes are always the best, since the capital raised from the sales can be dedicated solely to the project at hand.  4) Give the volunteers a brief “pep talk”, highlighting various benefits for the ticket buyer, i.e.- the ability to write donations off of their taxes, as mentioned above. 5) Using social media seems like a “no brainer” these days, for reaching a wide audience in a brief period of time. A social media presence enhances any fund-raising effort, from having a Facebook or Twitter page that gives or sends out information about your upcoming event, to the personal communications of members to others on their network.
I’m sure there are many more great ideas to enhance the success of a raffle fund-raising enterprise, these are just a handful. All in all, I would say that this an idea that can really take off, with the right methods, perseverance and a little imagination!
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