The Early Bird raffle is a game of chance and may be regulated by a gambling commission and a license may be required along with a filing fee. Visit your local government website and search the word “raffle” for legal rules and guidelines.
A raffle can be included at any gathering of people and a charity auction is the ideal arena to offer one or more raffles. It is my opinion that every auction should include the Early Bird Raffle. Beyond raising money, this raffle encourages guests to arrive early – important to a well timed auction and an efficient check in. The Early Bird Raffle primary purpose is to draw guests to the venue the minute the doors open. It is excellent for moving inventory, attracting sponsors and donors, creating winners and engaging the audience in participating fully with the auction.
The Early Bird Raffle is designed to entice guests to arrive at the auction the minute the doors open to begin placing bids in the silent auction, playing auction games and previewing live auction items. Think of the Early Bird Raffle hour like a VIP reception. Everyone who arrives during the Early Bird Hour is given a FREE raffle ticket and treated to complimentary champagne, hordevores and door prizes. The Early Bird Raffle will increase revenue and participation in the silent auction, raffle and fundraising games. Begin promoting the Early Bird Raffle in the auction newsletter, on the website and include a mention in the invitation-especially if an advertiser is on board. Prizes should be promoted once they are chosen or when a corporate or individual sponsor has signed on.
The Early Bird Raffle is a highly visible sponsorship segment and attractive to business donors. An advertising fee can be charged along with a request for a prize. The prize(s) need to fit the interests and demographic characteristics of your audience. In some cases the prize may be a product from the sponsoring business. If the sponsoring business does not have a tangible product or travel adventure, then one must be acquired either from the advertising fee or in addition to the advertising fee. The prize can be designated from items already procured. The prize does not need to be a high valued item. It is more important that the prize has broad appeal like a gift card to a grocery store or petrol company. Your job is to promote the heck out of the sponsor and prizes well in advance of the auction. Consider offering the sponsor the opportunity to create the Early Bird Raffle display using their own resources for design, materials and signage. Ask them to send 2 volunteers to give out the tickets and schmooze with the guests. Invite the company representative on stage to draw the ticket. The auctioneer and master of ceremonies will refer to the sponsors repeatedly throughout the silent auction timeline and during the drawing of the ticket. As you can see, the overall exposure is tremendous.
The Early Bird Raffle is active the first hour of the event only. Two volunteers stand at the Early Bird Hour display table with a roll of raffle tickets. The volunteer writes the guest’s bid number on the back of both tickets. One ticket is placed in the bowl and the other is given back to the guest for safe keeping. The ticket is drawn after the guests are seated and at the beginning of the dinner hour.
The Early Bird Raffle Process and Procedure
- Purchase standard two-part raffle tickets.
- Acquire ticket container and mark “Early Bird Raffle” on outside of container.
- Create a sign welcoming guests and announcing prize(s).
- Drape a table large enough to accommodate the signage.
- Drape and position the complimentary beverage table.
- Position both tables near the entrance to the silent auction arena.
- Position 2 volunteers at the raffle table.
- Catering staff will maintain the complimentary beverages.
- Prepare raffle tickets by tearing the tickets into one pair of tickets and stacking them.
- As guests arrive grab one pair of tickets and right the guests’ bid number on both tickets.
- Tear apart and give one to the guest and place one in the bowl.
- At the end of the hour, remove the raffle tickets and bowl from display.
- Give remaining tickets to clerking station.
- Take Early Bird Raffle bowl to stage and give to the auctioneer or master of ceremonies.
- Invite sponsor to stage.
- Draw ticket and announce winner.
- Call winner to stage and let sponsor award prize(s).
- If raffle is sponsored create a sign for the sponsor
- It is okay to offer several prizes to multiple winners.
How To Basic Raffle Ticket Selling Technique
- Pair volunteers together in teams of two. One ticket seller records sales the other tracks dispenses tickets.
- First ticket seller will carry a clip board for recording bid numbers and number of tickets sales. Place a list of the prizes on the back of the clip board so the seller can easily show the buyer the items they could win.
- The 2nd ticket seller will carry the tickets and write the buyer’s bid number on both ticket parts and then tear apart the tickets and place one half in a basket and give the other to the purchaser for safe keeping.
- Give the buyer a wearable token easily recognized by the sellers. It is critical to continued raffle sales to identify buyers so that the sellers do not continue to approach those guests. As the evening progresses, the sellers cannot remember who they sold too and guests begin to feel badgered by repeated requests to buy tickets. At some point the sellers stop selling tickets because they feel awkward and embarrassed by the increase in “No thank yous”. This little trick is worth the effort and modest expense.
- As the tally sheets fill up, they are turned in to the clerks so they can be entered into the computer. Make plans for one pair of raffle sellers per 75 people.
- If the event procedures are running smooth and the clerk staff is caught up, consider selling tickets during dinner until it’s time for the live auction.
Raffle Novelties are easily found online. Flashing buttons of all types with magnetic backs at hundreds of on-line stores or something as inexpensive as a gold star placed on your guests name tags works well and homemade or purchased medallions, bracelets and pins are fun too. Consider incorporating the theme into the novelty and the sponsor’s logo as well.
Guests who arrive during the Early Bird Hour receive pre-poured complimentary beverages like champagne, cosmos, martinis or wines as part of the VIP treatment.
A more costly alternative is to offer complimentary drinks at the bar for one hour. Besides the added expense long lines at the bar mean that people are not bidding and playing the auction games.
Pre-poured beverages can be part of a sponsored package either by the beverage company or event sponsor.