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Jamie Suiter

Raffles have been a favorite means of fundraising in my family for as long as I can remember; specifically fifty-fifty raffles. I can recall holding raffles to raise funds for my older sisters’ travel softball teams, my own travel sports teams, prom fundraisers, and various charity organizations. Recently I have taken the task of organizing raffles into my own hands, as president of my high school’s Key Club. In the past five months I have organized or sold tickets in three separate raffles.

            Shortly before Christmas I organized a fifty-fifty raffle through Key Club to take place at a local bowling alley. Our purpose with this raffle was to raise funds to buy Christmas presents for children in our local community’s foster program. In only one night we were able to raise $138.50 towards our cause. I whole-heartedly believe this is because we chose to hold a raffle fundraiser. In my experience people are far more willing to donate to a cause when they do so in a raffle format, even if funds are going to the same cause through a different format. When approached by someone selling goods people can often rationalize waving the person off, telling themselves “I don’t need what they’re selling” and overlooking the cause it is supporting. When asked to outright donate people are reluctant because they aren’t receiving any physical repayment for their donation. With raffles however people have the opportunity to win some sort of prize by donating to a worthy cause.

Personally I think the fifty-fifty format is a great prize for people. It encourages more people to participate because the more people involved the more money the winner gets back. In most of my raffling experience the winner has been kind enough to donate part to all of their prize money back towards the cause benefiting from the raffle. This makes the fifty-fifty structure even better because we are able to take away the full hundred percent of the money collected to help the designated cause. No money is spent purchasing a prize for winners and I am more able to serve my chosen organization with more funds.

During my recent bowling alley raffle, I was blown away by the generosity of the bowlers. As organizer, I set prices different than in the past and the customers loved it. Tickets were sold one for one dollar, five for three dollars, the customers arm length for five dollars, and their wingspan for ten dollars. I had never done the wingspan option before but it was an extremely successful technique. The league going on during our raffle was a company men’s league which was also to the raffle’s benefit. All the customers work with and know each other increasing the competitive spirit. Men were calling out to each other about who would win and how many more tickets one had over another. Some of the men of this group are extremely tall and thus had a wingspan of well over six feet, increasing the number of tickets they received and their chances to win. I was happy and willing to oblige to giving them so many tickets since raffle tickets are so inexpensive, another benefit of raffle fundraisers.

After sufficiently selling tickets for an hour and a half time slot we were able to count the funds collected and draw a winning ticket. We collected $277 in total and were able to take away $138.50 to purchase more presents for the foster kids. Some of the items we bought for the program included clothes, toys, a used gaming system, and a high chair. I was extremely happy with this because without our efforts from the raffle and various other smaller fundraisers some of these kids might not have gotten anything for Christmas. Although $138.50 may not seem like a large sum of money it is far better than raising no funds, especially because that is how much we were able to take away from only an hour and a half of fundraising at a small local bowling alley. Raffles are so simple and inexpensive to set up that they can be held frequently in a variety of places to raise funds all throughout the year.

My school frequently holds raffles during sports events to raise funds for local charities and worthy causes. I have sold tickets during several of these raffles over the years. I love participating and helping where I am able so I will continue with it for many years to come. I have gained many things through raffles. They have allowed me to be more comfortable talking in front of large crowds, I have felt directly connected to the organizations I help through my participation selling raffle tickets, and I have increased my entrepreneurial sales skills through raffles. I have also witnessed joy both from raffle winners and the people receiving effects of the funds raised. I see how connected and involved community members get when participating in raffles. My personal favorite part of holding raffles is the encouraging characteristics I see in humanity when winners selflessly donate funds back towards charities. All in all I think raffles are wonderful fundraisers for everyone involved and I have no doubt I will participate in many more raffles as time goes on.