How to find great raffle prizes
Boost ticket sales by sourcing appealing prizes for your
raffle - remember: if you don't ask, you don't get…
Being tasked with sourcing raffle prizes for an upcoming
fundraiser can be hard work and also pretty daunting. Be prepared
for refusals along the way, but a clear action plan and a positive
approach should see you through.
When to start asking
Allow more time than you think you will need. If you haven't
already started asking for prizes for your summer fair, now is a
good time to begin. You might feel uncomfortable asking for raffle
prizes, but you're not alone. Start slowly by contacting people
who've donated in previous years. Then, once you get a few goodies
under your belt, those worries will start to melt away.
Who to ask
Make the most of your contacts: ask parents, governors, current
sponsors and previous donors. Then widen the net to include local
businesses, attractions and sports clubs. Get creative: who might
live or work in your area but isn't an obvious choice for a
donation? Is there a new cafe or cinema that would like to promote
their business to families? Some PTAs include a raffle donation as
part of the charge for external stallholders.
'As we're a brand-new PTA with no business contacts, previous
prize donors or money in the bank, we wanted to keep our raffle as
simple as possible. Each class was allocated a theme and a letter
went home to parents requesting donations based around the theme.
The parents gave us such lovely things, and the PTA created hampers
using a cardboard box wrapped in cellophane and tied with a bow.
There was a hamper filled with chocolate gifts, one full of pamper
products, an arts and crafts hamper, and many more. The raffle was
really popular, and we raised £928.'
Emily Moorhouse, Handcross Primary School PTA, West
Sussex (240 pupils).
How to ask
Choose a day when you're feeling particularly confident and take
a stroll down your local high street. If you find this really
intimidating then put a time limit on it. Those 20 minutes of your
life will be over pretty quickly, and after that you probably won't
mind doing another 20. If you're visiting shops, pick a time when
you would expect them to be quiet. If the shop is really busy when
you get there, try again another day.
'It helps to have a letter on headed paper to hand to potential
donors. Just go in, say you are asking for prizes for a raffle for
your child's school. Explain how a donation would allow them to
advertise within the school community, and tell them how many
children or families are in the school. Explain what the money
raised would be going towards and let them know that anything they
can offer would be amazing. Ask to speak to the manager as they are
the one who will make the decision. Once you've been to a few
places and secured some donations, it helps with confidence. Now
I'm firmly in the "if you don't ask you don't get" camp - and I'll
ask absolutely anyone!'
Sarah Wesley, treasurer, Friends of South Camberley
Primary & Nursery School, Camberley, Surrey (757
Local and national
You can contact local and national companies via email, Twitter
or Facebook. Find out the name of the right person to approach and
use it. Try posting a request for raffle prizes on local Facebook
pages and groups. If you're fundraising for something specific,
it's a good idea to mention this and list the benefits for
Don't be afraid to follow up your email, tweet or letter. Be
polite. If you don't hear anything after two attempts they probably
aren't interested, so leave it there and try someone else. If you
are offered a donation, reply quickly and say thank you. Once the
fair is over and the raffle has been drawn, contact donors again
with another thank you and a note to say how much the raffle raised
for your cause.
While the most obvious raffle prizes are items donated by local
retail and manufacturing companies, it's also good to think outside
the box. Items and experiences that can't be bought 'off the shelf'
make extra-special raffle prizes and will have visitors queuing up
to win. Do any of the parents own anything as luxurious as a
holiday cottage they would offer for a week? Are there any creative
parents who would be prepared to produce a piece of artwork?
If this really doesn't sound like your community, how about a
couple of hours' cleaning or gardening? Or can the best baker on
the PTA offer to bake a special cake? Are any of your parents
personal trainers, yoga instructors or mobile beauticians? Donating
a voucher is an easy way for them to drum up new business. By the
time your raffle is drawn, you should have a selection of different
prizes that will appeal to all. Remember, the more prizes, the
greater the chance of winning for each ticket purchased.
Buy a prize
If, despite your best efforts, you still don't have a main prize
to drive ticket sales, you can consider buying something special or
offering a cash prize. How much you are able to spend depends on
what type of raffle you are running. The rules set out by the Gambling Commission allow for some of the
proceeds of each kind of raffle to be spent on prizes: for an
'incidental lottery' (tickets are only sold on the day and the draw
is made at the event, or shortly after) up to £500 of the raffle
takings may be used to buy prizes. If you're running a 'small
society lottery' (tickets can be sold before the event and you must
register with your local authority) you may use up to 80% of
takings for prizes.
Of course, spending money on prizes will reduce your profits on
the day, so make sure you plan to sell enough tickets to cover the
extra outgoings. Visit the Gambling Commission for more details on
different types of raffle.
If no one wants to take on sole responsibility for raffle
prizes, split the task between several people or ask every
committee member to commit to getting two or three prizes each.
Good communication is required so that you don't all ask the same
A few refusals are perfectly normal and not everyone will be in
a position to help you. However, if you think too many people are
saying no, see if you can tweak your request to emphasise the
emotional and beneficial aspects of your fundraising.
On the day
Make sure all your volunteers know what big-ticket prizes you
have on offer, where tickets are being sold and what they cost.
Sell tickets on the door and have a few volunteers selling as
people walk around.
Include a list of prizes in your programme, if you have one, and
display them clearly on the door. You could laminate an A4 sheet
for visitors to pass around. Make sure you've included any company
logos or contact details you have promised and that everything is
For more information
Read our FAQs to raffles and lotteries
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