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Zane C Yurecka

I have been involved in unsuccessful fundraising campaigns all of my life.  As a baseball player, I have sold discount cards, minor league baseball game nights, and wrapping paper. My high school team has conducted a daddy-daughter dance annually to raise money for a spring break tournament. We have had a hair salon that provided donations back on all haircuts referred by them team. In all, these fundraisers require many man hours for little return and often it has been on the backs of the parents.

In 2014, my younger brother began performing with a local non-profit theatre company. In an effort to raise money for a new sound system for the theatre, we began conducting 50/50 raffle drawings at all performances. The man hours, effort, and reward for these raffles has been far more productive than any other fundraising effort I have been involved in.

To begin with, the 50/50 raffle requires one or two people to man a table marketing the raffle and explaining the benefits of participating. At the theatre, this usually means for about an hour before the show starts and 20 minutes during intermission. The average show runs 2-3 weekends, so approximately 9-12 shows require personnel. This is perfect for most organizations that have between 18-24 volunteers who each can devote a couple of hours towards the fundraising effort.

Monies collected during the raffle ticket selling portion of the evening are then counted and split in half. Half the monies are given to the lucky winner holding the raffle ticket when the ticket is drawn on stage at the conclusion of intermission. Often there is a discount for purchasing tickets in quantities of 5, 10 or 20. This incentive boosts the total pot, raising the amount the winner will get, but also raising the amount the theatre company will keep.  Additionally, theatre go-ers are already interested in helping the theatre company out; they are the audience, not an unaffected community that we are selling to. We have found that approximately one out of every ten winners will actually donate their winnings back to the theatre.

The monetary success of the 50/50 raffle can be broken down in comparison to the results of another fundraiser I annually participate in. The Northside Christian School daddy-daughter dance 2015 raised $1200.  All the parents of the baseball players were required to spend the 4 hours prior to the event decorating the gym and the one hour after the event cleaning up the gym. The baseball players were required to set up, assist during the dance, and clean up. The parents were asked to contribute financially in the form of food donations, decorations, DJ sponsorship, etc. to make this event work. The dance is only open to girls and their fathers who attend the school and they are asked to pay $50 a couple to attend, often these same parents that are volunteering are also paying guests. However, the 50/50 raffle for the most recent show, West Side Story, raised approximately $1200 during its nine shows. Each volunteer only gave an hour and a half of their time, was not asked to contribute anything financially from their own pocket, unless they wanted to buy raffle tickets themselves, and they were invited to watch the show as well. Although the fundraiser was two weeks in duration, there was no set up, preparation, or clean up, and the staffing didn’t require everyone to be there at the same time. The only purchase we had to make ahead of time was raffle tickets.

In conclusion, it is my belief that in the case of the 50/50 raffle, less effort garners greater rewards. This form of selling an opportunity to interested parties creates excitement and is lucrative for the organization holding the raffle. Having experienced fundraisers that only bring about moderate gains for the organization, I will be more inclined in the future to evaluate the allocation of time and energy required when planning future drives, and compare the concept with the success of the 50/50 raffle