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Hosting Raffles The Winning Side of the Lottery by Amy Tran

Hosting Raffles: The Winning Side of the Lottery by Amy Tran


What are the chances of winning the lottery? One in 175 million, according to the Multi-State Lottery Association. Winning a raffle? For a sizable pot, maybe 1 in 500. If you’re on the other side of raffle tickets—selling them, there’s even better news: it’s a 100% win rate. The Powerball takes in almost $5 billion in revenue, just from selling people on the idea of winning. While we don’t all have access to the resources and advertising that the CA Lottery Corporation can afford, as a non-profit, we have a cause on our side. Which is not quite, but almost as good. (But hey, aren’t all non-profits supposed to be optimists?)


As a non-profit, your goal is to benefit your organization, not just to raise as much funds as possible. Unlike a for-profit business, you have the advantage of an appeal to emotion and the possibility of garnering further donations. So begin with the end in mind! While it is crucial to raise revenue, don’t pressure the general public into buying your tickets. Instead of treating the raffle as a marketing gimmick, think of it as a way of seeking donations while giving the donator a chance of tangible karma. While you won’t need much advertising to successfully sell tickets, it would be a good idea to set up some colorful signs and posters to attract attention. Let people know exactly what their money is being used for. If people can drop $4 for a cup of Starbucks coffee, they can afford to donate some money—but only if they are aware of your cause. Ask permission to set up stands nearby local events and recruit the help of local businesses to see if they can assist you with spreading the word or selling tickets. Ask your organization’s members to ask their friends and family. The more people that know about the raffle, the better. Most importantly, be genuine and people will reply with generosity.


Of course, the general public’s altruism can go a long way. However, add the possibility of a tantalizing prize and your raffle can pack a more efficient one-two punch. Because you will most likely be appealing to people of all backgrounds, the best raffle prizes would be something that everyone has a use for, but still remains cost-efficient. For example, everyone could use an overseas vacation, car, or spaceship, but these prizes may be too pricey and may offset the profits gained from selling the tickets. Scale the value of your prizes with your expected sales. A more realistic array of prizes for a small organization could include items such as a new phone or a gift basket. You can also enlist the help of businesses around your organization by asking them for donations of gift cards to their businesses. It doesn’t hurt to ask!


But while it is important to employ good marketing techniques, perhaps the most important part of a successful raffle are the raffle-sellers. A non-profit organization relies not only on the benevolence of its donators, but also of its members. The raffle’s success is largely determined by how much effort and sincerity your volunteers put into selling those tickets. Because these are the volunteers who will be directly interacting with your potential donators and making the raffle work, it is a good idea to let them know how much they are appreciated. You can motivate your volunteers to sell more tickets by offering a reward for the best ticket-sellers and the competition would encourage the volunteers to outdo each other. (Just make sure the reward isn’t a raffle ticket: having an organization’s member win grand prize may cause suspicion, however unwarranted). In my personal experience, however, the best way of selling tickets is to not treat it as a job to be done. The most productive raffles remind the volunteers of the reason and importance of these ticket sales. With a clearly stated goal in mind, volunteers are encouraged to sell tickets of their own volition to benefit the organization. Furthermore, encourage volunteers to work in groups and make it a fun bonding activity, rather than just a method of raising funds. A purpose-driven member with tickets to sell is likely to be an organization’s most valuable asset.


Winning the lottery is tempting, but unrealistic. It is a better idea to try to win the raffle, and an even better one to host a raffle. For many non-profit organizations, raffles may be the best way to raise funds. Unlike other fundraisers, the process is inexpensive and promises a much higher rate of success. Instead of requiring a substantial start-up fund, a raffle instead relies on the dedication of its members and generosity of its patrons. With a bit of work and a lot of love, a raffle can easily become a successful venture.


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Contributed by Amy Tran