Running a raffle can be an excellent way of raising funds. At the school where I chair the PTA we hold a variety of different kinds of raffle each year. We're a small village school of 140 pupils and have found that these raffles raise a significant amount of money for us.
The most important thing when running any kind of raffle, is to make sure that you are complying with the law. We have to be registered with our local council as a small society lottery and have to pay a small fee of about £20 each year. It's important to read the rules governing raffles because there are certain things that are prohibited e.g. You are not allowed to include alcohol as a raffle prize if tickets are sold in advance of the date on which the draw actually takes place. We also have to then submit a return to the council after each raffle. More information on the rules/regulations can be found via this link:
The type of raffle which raises us the most money, is the one which is held in conjunction with our Summer and Christmas Fayres. For these raffles we contact both local and national businesses and ask for prizes to be donated. We find it works best if we write an official letter, which includes info about our charitable status and also specifies what we're raising money for.
We tend to start the process of requesting raffle prizes at least a 2-3 months in advance of the date of the draw because it can take a while for people to respond, for them to prepare the prize and then to arrange to collect the item. Also, there will be a lot of "polite" refusals, so perseverance and a thick skin is required! We always keep a list of which businesses have been approached and which have agreed to donate. This helps to prevent the same business being approached twice (as we don't want to cause annoyance) and also gives us a good idea of which businesses to approach for the next raffle. We tend to keep each other informed via a group message/chat, to prevent duplication. Approaching local businesses personally can work very well, as can using social media. Or sometimes, you can even get a raffle prize donated by writing a blog post for companies such as Stamptastic!
Stamptastic also provide FREE £22 fundraising vouchers to every PTA who signs up to their PTA Rewards Scheme and 20% commission (less VAT) on every single order.
Another good source for donations of prizes, is parents at the school who own businesses or have friends/family members that do. We tend to add a "sweetener" to the request for a raffle prize, by offering to promote any businesses that donate a prize via our PTA Facebook group and also on our pre-printed raffle tickets. For the Christmas and Summer raffles we get raffle tickets professionally printed and list as many prizes as possible on the tickets, and then sell the tickets for £1 each.
There are a number of different companies that print raffle tickets, but shop around as prices vary hugely. As a guide, we usually pay about £16-17 for 1000 tickets. You also need to make sure that you allow enough time to approve the "proof" for your tickets, have them printed and then posted to you, as well as then distribute the tickets for sale. We usually have the tickets stapled into books of 10 and send home a book of tickets to each family in school, asking them to sell them to friends and family. We also ask them to return unsold tickets so that they can be sold to somebody else.
Tickets are also sold at the Fayre itself, to make sure we target other people in the community who attend the event. Staff at the school are also offered the opportunity to purchase tickets via our PTA teacher rep. The draw then takes place on the school stage towards the end of the Fayre and prizes are randomly allocated. E.g. "The next ticket drawn is the winner of X prize" etc. Usually this type of raffle makes us a profit of about £550 on average (which I don't think is bad for such a small school!)
We also run a Christmas Hamper raffle, where again we ask for items to be donated. Supermarkets are usually a good source of items and it works best if you approach the customer services desk with an official PTA letter when asking them to donate. We usually purchase a hamper style basket and cellophane wrap and ribbon from eBay. (Although sometimes Waitrose will donate a basket/crate)
Tickets are then sold to a captive audience at each of our school Christmas plays/concerts, usually at a cost of £1 a strip. We use normal "cloakroom" style tickets that can be purchased from most newsagents and usually have several people selling the tickets simultaneously in order to speed things up and maximise sales. The draw for the hamper, then takes place at the end of the final performance.
However, because our plays/concerts take place over a series of days, alcohol cannot be included in the hamper due to the previously mentioned licensing and lottery laws. We get round this by having a "spot prize" winner drawn from the ticket sales at each performance and that person wins a bottle of wine. The spot prize winning ticket is then put back in, to enable that person to also have a chance of winning the hamper. We have previously tried to get people to write a contact name or number on the back of the ticket stubs, so that we knew who to contact if that person wasn't present at the final draw. However, we found that this took too long and hampered (no pun intended) the sale of tickets! Instead, we keep a record of which ticket numbers were sold at which performance, to help us to track down the winner if needed. We also ask the headteacher to make a clear announcement at each performance about the need to keep the tickets safe. The Christmas Hamper raffle usually raises about £350 profit. We've also run a similar raffle at Sports' Day, but found this didn't raise as much money for an equal amount of effort.
The final kind of raffle we run is an incidental raffle, which is attached to an event e.g. A quiz night. We normally include small prizes e.g. A box of "posh" biscuits or chocolates, a bottle of wine etc. For this kind of raffle, alcohol can be included because tickets are not sold in advance of the date of the draw. These raffles don't usually raise a significant amount, but might add an extra £40 ish to the profit of another event, so are worth doing. Again, we have to ask for donations of items.
All in all, it can be a lot of hard work. However, when all the raffles are totalled up, we probably raise about £1400-1500 a year, so the effort is definitely worth it!
Helen Boyde Chairperson Llanfair Primary
(Llanfair Primary is a member of The Stamptastic PTA Rewards Scheme) and received a £30 fundraising voucher for writing this blog post. If you would like to write a blog post for us please join our Stamptastic PTA and Schools Facebook Group to find out more!)