Raffles are a useful source of extra income for an event. They might raise enough to cover the costs of the venue. And they allow people who would have been willing to pay more for an event ticket to spend that extra few pounds.
But there are some holes that people fall into when organising a raffle. Here are (in my opinion) some of the more common.
1. Limit the number of prizes
No, seriously. Limit the number of prizes. Five or six is generally quite enough.
I was at an event recently where there were over 35 prizes. The draw took over half an hour – people got bored and stopped paying attention after five minutes.
So have a few, but good prizes. Instead of twelve prizes of a bottle of wine each, have one prize of a case of wine. Win a bottle of wine and you think “yeah, whatever, it’s a bottle of wine. I’ll drink it with Sunday lunch”. Win a case of wine, however – now that is worth something.
You don’t need some rich benefactor to donate these big prizes – just bundle several donated prizes together. But are people more likely to buy tickets if there are few prizes – but good ones?
Well millions of people buy National Lottery tickets for a slim chance of winning a huge prize (and do you know that the best time to buy a National Lottery ticket is after about 6.00 pm on a Saturday? Any earlier and apparently you’ve more chance of dying before the draw than you have of winning the top prize).
2. How much have people paid already?
Most admission prices are only a few pounds, and people are prepared to dig their hands in the pockets for a few raffle tickets. But there are high-prestige events (not that I’ve never been invited to any) where ticket prices might be tens, if not hundreds of pounds.
If people have already paid an awful lot of money to be there, should we really be expecting them to pay more?
3. Multi-buy discounts
“£1 each, six for £5”. You can’t do this – it’s illegal. All tickets have to be sold for the same price (or every pound spent must have the same chance of winning – which is the same thing the other round).
4. Selling in advance
The most common trap that people fall into is advance purchases. You are holding a raffle at the fete next weekend, so carry a book of cloakroom tickets around to sell to friends, family and colleagues. Sorry, but you can’t do this either – it’s also illegal.
The typical event raffle falls into a category called “Incidental non-commercial lotteries”, and all the sales and draw must take place at the main event.
The Gambling Commission has produced a simple guide that describes the different types of lottery and the different rules that apply to each.
Incidental non-commercial lotteries
These are held at non-commercial events, such as school fetes etc. All the sales and the draw must take place during the main event, which may last more than a single day. Prizes cannot total more than £500.
From The Gambling Commission: Running a lottery quick guide (pdf).
5. Check with the venue first
But surely raffles are so common that any venue would expect you to be running one? Well, that may be so, but some venues (particular church-owned buildings) do not allow them. So check.
6. Prize value
If you are allowing the winning ticket holders to choose their prize, make all the prizes of a similar magnitude of value. At one event I want to, most of the prizes were bottles of wine or boxes of chocolates – a similar value. But there was also a couple of prizes of a much high value – a microwave oven and a food processor.
Had one of my tickets been drawn I would have had a dilemma – do I choose a high value prize to make the most of my winnings, or would this look greedy? (As it was, none of my tickets was drawn so the problem didn’t arise).
Do it right with raffles
So, I don’t what to put you off running a raffle at your fete, production, concert, etc. They are relatively easy to organise, and cheap to run (especially if you get the prizes donated). But they do need a bit of planning and a bit of research first.
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