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Raffle Me Away by Jessie Saunooke

Raffle Me Away by Jessie Saunooke


Tahnee’s Memorial Children’s Fund was founded in the early year of 2015, after the death of my dearest friend, Tahnee Arkansas. Her mother Michelle thought it was only the right thing to do considering Tahnee loved working as a preschool teacher, at Dora Reed Child Care. She aspired to be a special needs teacher, and was working so hard to get to where we she wanted to be. Tahnee even passed her test to get her teaching degree, which is as far as she would ever make it before passing away after a car accident, on June 28, 2014. It hit everyone in the community hard especially her mom. I am going to use her foundation as an example throughout my essay.

During the early stages of the non-profit organization, Michelle decided selling raffle tickets would be the most convenient way of raising money for the Cherokee Children’s Christmas Charity, where they bought presents for the kids in the Orphanage. If she could find someone to donate a prize to raffle off would make the outcome of the money total even higher, because the organization can keep 100% of funds raised to donate to the charity

Deciding who the fundraising money would go to was the easy part, staying motivated became a little complicated.  In the beginning signing up volunteers in the community was a little tricky, but Michelle had to keep her head up and she eventually found solutions to encourage more volunteers. Stimulating volunteers with small gifts for reaching personal goals is an excellent way to give the volunteers some motive, but the number one way to keep the volunteers motivated is to simply talk to them. Remind everyone of the cause and what the purpose of raising money is for. You can’t expect your volunteers to be encouraged if the leader isn’t inspired themselves.

Michelle sent out many types of e-mails to anyone she could reach, trying to persuade locals to purchase raffles from her organization.  She even made it a point to update the Fund’s Facebook page, as often as she could, to keep reminding people about the raffle sales and prizes.  The Fund really picked up some dollars when volunteers were able to sale raffles tickets at the local high school sports events, on top of hanging up flyers at businesses, anything Michelle could her hands on to increase sales she tried.  The daycare where Tahnee worked supported the cause, the director had approved helping, and sent out raffle tickets to the teachers and the students all throughout the facility. Michelle knew what she was doing getting the school involved. It increased the sales and made it possible to send over $5,000 to the Cherokee Christmas Charity.

Prizes are always my favorite part of the raffle, prizes like free meals, gift certificates to shops, handmade crafts, and if you are really lucky maybe some cash. Michelle will sometimes have a local artist in the community approach her willing to donate a piece of their work to raffle off. Things like handmade river cane baskets, beaded jewelry, paintings, carvings, etc. Most people love having authentic Native American treasurers and are more willing to purchase more raffle tickets.  My personal favorite is a 50/50 raffle; everyone wants to win money off a simple chance. In some cases a nice humble fellow will win the 50/50 and often donate the money they won right back to the charity, this is always a blessing.            

I like raffles, but I like them even more now that they play an active role in my everyday life. Without this type of fundraising technique it would not be possible for the Tahnee Memorial Children’s Fund to raise the amount of money they wish to. Yes, there are other ways to fundraise, but this ensures a simple and effective way to raise cash for the charities.

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Contributed by Jessie Saunooke

November 2, 2015