My son’s school had a raffle this year that was so successful that next year the school might just implement this raffle idea as the only fundraiser.

Our school like most schools has an auction/dinner fundraiser every year. An event that a handful of parents work on all year long for weeks and weeks and the rest of the school parents put in a pretty good share of time too. This year was one of the most successful ones because we also implemented a raffle that raised a quarter of the whole event!

The truth is I think that raffles rule! But you have to do it in a smart way. Here is what we did:

Since kids are great raffle tickets salespeople we wanted to make it fun and rewarding for the kids to sell the tickets. We made a list of all the coolest raffle prizes that our kids would love to receive. The #1 thing was a Unicycle (we have a circus performing arts class that all the kids take), after that we came up with a Tamagotchi , a skateboard and tons of beanie babies!

What we did is organize in effect two raffles, one was the fundraising raffle and one was the “kid raffle”. You cannot buy raffle tickets for the “kid raffle,” you can only earn them. For every 10 tickets that a kid sells they get one free kid raffle ticket. Naturally, the kid raffle’s main prize was a unicycle (which we got donated) and the rest of the prizes were bought by us.

The kids went nuts!!! We gave each child a packet with all the instructions and got them psyched… We made an executive decision that no kid will go empty handed at the end of the raffle and we bought beanie babies for all of them (we got them on eBay for a dollar each).

In order to try and inspire people to buy more raffle tickets for the regular fundraising raffle we awarded those who spent a lot of money with loads of tickets. One raffle ticket sold for a dollar, 6 for 5 dollars all the way to 500 tickets for $200! The thinking for the high amount is that many family members, friends and grandparents live far away. They would be happy to support junior’s school and cannot attend the fundraiser BUT they can buy raffle tickets… and would make junior really happy because the more tickets they buy the more the granddaughter receives free “kid raffle” tickets.

In my opinion, the only reason for having a raffle that compliments an auction/dinner is to be able to squeeze money from people that are not going to be at the physical event.

In order to solve the problem of filling in your name and number on each ticket we offered a “free fill in service” for those who bought $40 worth of tickets or more. We devised a system at the end to make this easy for us to do. I can’t tell you how many of my friends added $20 bucks just so they won’t have to fill out 30 tickets…

Out of about 50 kids (we are a very small school k-6) we sold about 6 $200 deals (which also included 2 free tickets to the main event, a $50 value)..

Some kids sold hundreds of dollars worth of raffle tickets just by approaching their church members or even at the local market (naturally, we made it clear that kids do not sell on their own and must have an adult present). What I found is that people will be happy to give 5-10 bucks to a local school not really caring what the raffle prizes were.

This was a way to get money from school supporters who could not attend the dinner event for whatever reason.

We ended up raising over $6000 with this raffle which was huge for us. I am already thinking of ways to refine this system in order to make it even more successful next year.

When I think of how much time and energy goes into doing the fundraiser dinner and relatively how little time was involved with the raffle I wonder if it is possible to stretch these ideas and make it the main event.

I think that the key to the success was having the secondary kid raffle. Because once you charge up the kids they not only do a great job but most of them love it too… And also I think that people are quite tired of buying from those catalogs stuff that they really don’t need or want and would prefer to just give the full amount of money to the school….

If you were given a choice between buying overpriced $8 gift wrap (which the school only sees $3) or buying 12 raffle tickets for $10 which all goes to the school what would you choose?

About the Author: Frustrated with the usual unorganized school fundraisers Suzanne Wouk turned to the internet in search of a better way. She started the site FundraisingMom.com in order to share the information she found with others.

For a general guide that will help your group set up a raffle see How to Organize a Raffle Fundraiser. For a more extensive course check out Raffle Secrets.

For more information about school fundraisers visit Top School Fundraisers.

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Posted on 18 July 2007

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