How Raffles Work
The principle behind raffles is very simple. Prizes are bought or donated, and people buy tickets for a chance to win those prizes. Tickets are marked with the buyer's contact information. At a selected place and time, tickets are drawn to determine the winners.
In order to run a raffle, you'll need to procure prizes, print up tickets, sell them, and have a space in which to display the prizes on the day of the drawing. For churches, it's generally best to obtain prizes by way of donation, which will keep costs down and increase your profits.
Tickets are easy to create with publishing software and clipart, or can be designed and printed by a local stationary company, perhaps at no charge or at a reduced rate. Your volunteers will be doing the majority of the ticket selling. Finally, the space you use for display may be in your church's meeting hall, gymnasium, or basement, or you may choose to coordinate your raffle with a larger fundraising event, such as a barbecue or craft fair. Planning Your Raffle Fundraiser In large part, many of your raffle planning decisions will be determined by your fundraising goal - how much money would you like to raise? How many volunteers do you have to help you meet that goal? How many tickets will each seller need to sell to reach the goal? These factors will influence everything from the prizes you choose to raffle to your ticket pricing.
It's good to set up a timeline of events, listing out when you'd like to have your prizes secured, when tickets will be printed and distributed, etc. Also, set goals for your volunteers! How many tickets do you expect each of them to sell?
Choosing Raffle Prizes
As you begin to plan your fundraiser, think about what sort of prizes will make people likely to buy tickets. Gift certificates, gourmet dinners, home electronics, travel packages, barbecue grills...the possibilities are nearly endless, and will be determined mostly by the people you'd like to attend your raffle. What would make you buy a ticket for a raffle? Raffling off cars donated by a local dealership can be a great way to get people interested in your fundraising event.
Remember that as the value of your prizes go up, the price you can reasonably charge for tickets will rise, as well, resulting in greater profits (or, at the least, fewer necessary ticket sales) for your religious group. Also, be sure to secure a few prizes for your top ticket-selling volunteers, as this will inspire them to sell more!
Raffle tickets are generally large enough for contact information to be written on them, though it's also possible to have numbered tickets and an information sheet which corresponds to the numbers. Pricing your tickets will depend upon what prizes you have to offer, but around five dollars apiece is a pretty good price for the tickets of most raffles.
When you distribute tickets to your volunteers, keep a record of how many each person has been allotted. The selling period should run for at least a month, but preferably at least two. At the end, ask that your volunteers each return both moneys collected and unsold tickets a day or two before the raffle. This will help to determine "super-sellers," people who have done an outstanding job, and also to keep everyone honest about the tickets they've sold.
By and large, raffles require very little advertising as compared to other fundraising events. Most of your advertising is done on a one-to-one basis by your volunteers -- provide them with pictures or brochures for the items you'll be raffling off, and remind them to mention the cause to which proceeds will go. Many people will be inspired both by the chance to win and by the opportunity to benefit their community.
With sound planning, great prizes, and enthusiastic volunteers, a raffle fundraiser can be an outstanding way for your church or religious group to raise large funds for a small initial cost. When paired with another form of event fundraising, especially, a raffle may be just what your organization needs to raise funds for a worthy cause.