How to Set Up a Raffle

Conducting a raffle can be an exciting way to raise money for your philanthropic project, club trip or other special activity. Usually a group activity, a raffle provides volunteers a way to help their cause and lets one or more supporters have the fun of winning. Follow the steps below to conduct a successful raffle.

First steps

Determine whether your organization is permitted to raise money via a raffle. If you and the other members of an independent recreational club decide to conduct a raffle among yourselves, this is not a consideration. If, however, you wish to raise money by selling tickets to nonmembers, i.e. the public, you need to check local and state laws governing commerce and sometimes gaming.

Find out what kind of regulations you need to collect and account for money. Local and state laws regulate how you do this. Check whether your organization needs a particular tax-exempt status to hold a raffle.

Determine the attitude of any larger group you are affiliated with toward raffles. If your group is a chapter of a larger organization, check bylaws to be certain you are in compliance. Some religious denominations and national civic organizations prohibit raffles, for ethical reasons related to gambling or as part of their larger community-service mission.

Organizing your raffle

Decide how much money your group wants to raise. This will determine how you locate prizes, schedule and publicize your raffle, and sell enough tickets. If, for example, your main goal is to honor a gifted craftswoman by raffling off her beautiful quilt at your annual bazaar, you will need only a few people to make your raffle happen. Raffling a car to raise a major contribution to a parent organization's national campaign will take more people and more planning.

Establish a schedule your volunteers can meet. Allow time to locate prizes, print tickets and publicize your project to the community. Make certain that volunteers understand their responsibilities and will be able to carry them out. Establish a means for collecting and accounting for money before you begin other activities. You also need to establish the rules for your publicity: ticket-buyers need to know the purpose of the raffle, the time and date of the drawing and how the winners will be notified. This information should appear in notices, press releases, and posters, as well as your tickets.

Assign volunteer responsibilities and be prepared to provide them with support if they need it. Even though you may have established a committee that is officially in charge of conducting the raffle, make certain that all the other members of the group are well informed and encouraged to participate. A volunteer who has an accident or sudden illness may need backup. Getting all your volunteers involved in the raffle at some level makes it easier to replace a committee member or expand responsibilities than letting general membership leave work exclusively to the committee.

Determine whether you need money to raise money, and establish a budget. This should include printing costs for tickets and posters, postage for any publicity sent by mail, transportation for prizes if needed and any hospitality expenses related to your raffle-drawing. Establish a method for reimbursing volunteer out-of-pocket expenses. For example: your organization has been given a go-cart to raffle for your youth program. This is a fabulous prize--but make certain you know how the prize will get to the winner! You need to be specific: the donor will deliver for free; a volunteer will do it if you pay gas for his truck; or the winner must make his/her own arrangements.

Getting results

Check in frequently with volunteers during the publicity and ticket-selling period. Make sure the word is getting out, answer any possible questions or confusions and make sure money is collected and turned in promptly. Mostly, make certain your volunteers know how much their work is valued.

Conduct your drawing as scheduled. If you are making it a special event, you may wish to provide refreshments for those attending. Invite your prize donors. Make certain all your volunteers know exactly when the drawing is, and who won.

Plan a way to thank your volunteers for their hard work. Write each one a letter, give them a small thank-you gift or throw a thank-you party. You've accomplished your goal with a great raffle. Recognize your volunteers' work, and they'll be ready to help with the next event.