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Raffle Fundraisers Maximizing Profits and Fun by Blake Erhardt Ohren

Raffle Fundraisers Maximizing Profits and Fun by Blake Erhardt-Ohren


While working at a non-profit social work organization over the past few months, I have learned that it is difficult to dream up fundraisers that maximize profits and minimize costs. I have also learned that organizing raffles is a low-cost way to ensure high returns. Rather than hope that people invest in a full-price ticket to an event, raffles create an atmosphere where people are dared to take a chance, putting up a small amount of money in order to gain large rewards. Although in of themselves raffles are already cost-effective, there are a few ways in which they can be organized to maximize ticket sales, guarantee buyer interest in prizes, and motivate volunteers to sell more tickets.

The best ways to maximize sales of tickets are to make tickets cheap and to work out a sliding fee scale that incentivizes bulk purchases. By making tickets cheaper, organizations encourage a larger pool of contestants that may have felt that the investment in a more expensive raffle is not worth the risk of losing the initial pay in. Additionally, contestants feel that they have a larger share of the raffle tickets because they are physically holding on to more tickets. So, although their chances may be decreased by the higher number of tickets sold and number of participants, they have the feeling of owning a greater share of the overall tickets. Working out a fee scale to sell more tickets for less money has the same effect. Participants feel as though they are more likely to win, although this is probably less true than in other situations. They are encouraged to purchase more tickets, as they feel that spending, say, $1 for one ticket, is less advantageous than buying six tickets for $5, or even 13 tickets for $10. When implemented, these techniques will undoubtedly increase the overall number of raffle tickets sold.

 In planning a raffle, it is imperative to ensure that the prizes are worth the risk of entering the game and paying for tickets. Non-profit organizations should invest in prizes that are limited edition or available only in a limited supply. For example, opening night movie tickets, special screenings, or concert tickets are time-sensitive products that are likely to draw attention. Although it may take more effort to go online at a certain time of the day on a certain day to buy tickets, as opposed to swinging by a store and picking up a blender, the decision to invest more time in shopping will pay off in the end, as potential participants hope to gain access to special opportunities or items. Another way to find unique items is to look within the volunteer and employee pool and find out about connections that individuals have to different celebrities: even one signed DVD or jersey may pay off big in the long run. It would even be worth it to try to contact celebrity agents to see if they would ask the person they represent if they would be interested in donating a signed or limited edition item to the raffle. They may feel connected to the cause and add greatly to the execution and overall success of the fundraiser. Quality always trumps quantity, and this is as true in the raffle world as elsewhere.

 Raffles can be tricky to make successful unless an organization can motivate its staff and volunteers to sell a high volume of tickets. There is no easier way to do this than to get them involved in the raffle game themselves. A foolproof way to encourage sales is to reward volunteers with commission, giving them some percentage of their sales back in tickets. For example, if the volunteer sells 25 tickets, they should be given one ticket to enter into a volunteer-only raffle that takes place after the event ends. If this is not possible, a similar incentive may be used: volunteers with high sales of raffle tickets may be given tickets to games or for food. In this way, the raffle fundraiser becomes competitive among the volunteers, so they are motivated to work extra hard to sell a higher number of tickets. They thus increase their chances of winning a raffle themselves, or are able to partake in the other activities at the fundraiser. If the volunteers are all employees of the non-profit organization, giving time off (for example, a half day) to the person with the highest sales is a great way to incentivize everyone. Creating incentives for volunteers that come at no, or only a low cost to the organization help to motivate salespersons and boost income from the event.

Planning a fundraiser can be a daunting task, but once the event planner is made aware of and able to take advantage of tricks to maximize profits, the event planning becomes a breeze. By increasing ticket sales, including fun and unique prizes, and motivating volunteers to sell high numbers of raffle tickets, the organization can be assured that it will pull in a high amount of revenue from its event with little money spent on purchases. Raffle fundraisers should be a fun affair, and with some cost-efficient techniques they can be!

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Contributed by Blake Erhardt-Ohren

December 29, 2015