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James Jones

My religious school has a silent auction every year. This is the main fundraiser for the school. I am a teacher there and the proceeds from the charity event are used to pay salaries for teachers and teacher’s assistants.  My mom organizes the event, and I help out whenever possible.  We had some significant problems though.


1)      Lower value items were not getting any bids within a profitable range

2)      Some items were not getting any bids at all  


I came up with a solution to solve both these problems: a raffle.


I set up tables with lunch-sized brown paper bags for raffle tickets next to the lower-priced item. Raffle tickets were made available for purchase at the entry to the event with the option to buy more raffle tickets later.  Participants were encouraged to buy additional tickets if they wanted to increase their odds of winning once they saw what exciting items were available. This extra raffle setup has generated excitement for lower value items like books, toys, socks, etc.  Not all attendees were interested in the silent auction because not everyone can afford to buy big ticket items such as art work or watches, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to participate in some way.


The raffle option created a niche for kids to put in raffle tickets for items they wanted and for parents who may not want to bid on big ticket items but do hope to walk away with something.


We found that it was hard for students to ask their mom or dad to bid $9 for a DVD, but easy for them to ask to buy more raffle tickets in order to add another several tickets to their favorite item. This netted greater profits on the lower values items than before.  It also provided an additional form of entertainment as the kids were occupied with trying to calculate their winning odds by continually checking which bags had the most and fewest raffle tickets.  


The other raffle innovation I had was the raffle mystery bag.  There were some items that I didn’t think would even attract many raffle tickets because they were left over from the prior year.  I reasoned, “If nobody wanted to bid on it at all last year, how many people would be willing to put one of their purchased raffle tickets in the bag for it this year?”  I felt this was valid logic since most of the same people come to our event year after year.   So, I put together a few mystery bags. Although the winners of the mystery bags might not want what is inside, they are always happy to win just for the sake of bragging rights alone.  This feature of the raffle has been a hit for two years in a row!



Adding a raffle component to our auction has solved some vexing problems. The raffle component has also had the distinct advantage of speeding up the event. On the lower value items, there are often multiples, so rather than having to sequentially put up for auction and try to get multiple bidders, the raffle allows for the simultaneous raffling of items, saving time while making more money. I run the raffle component and it keeps on growing.  This year about one-third of our events profits came from the raffle alone.  This has helped with our budget for salaries.  As an added bonus, I have learned more about fund raising and I am glad to be able to help my religious school in this way.