Early Bird Hour & Raffle
A VIP reception or Early Bird Hour is usually held one hour before the official time the doors open. The early bird raffle is a free raffle that is offered to guests who arrive early for a VIP hour. I’m not in favor of using the term “VIP” at fundraising events thinking that it is important for all guests to feel special and equal to other guests. Many event planners still use the term for entertainment and theatrical events. Others have gone to clever naming like “Celebrity Reception” meaning that the guests are the celebrities and they are treated like one. In any case the Early Bird Raffle is included in the ticket price for the Early Bird Hour, VIP or Celebrity Reception.
The 25% Rule
25% arrive 25% earlier increase profits by 25%
Promoting The Early Bird Raffle well in advance of the auction should attract a minimum of about 25% of registered guests. The purpose of enticing guests to arrive early is that more people will actually arrive on time and at a charity auction 25% of guests will have been placing bids for at least 30 minutes during the Silent Auction before the rest of the guests arrive thus improving the Silent Auction total.
Sponsors ♥ the Early Bird Hour
It works like this: a business provides one or more prizes to be given away during the reception and throughout the event timeline. Complimentary drinks or even a wine tasting adds panache. If prizes are sponsored they should be highly desirable, with broad appeal and valued at a minimum of $500 to reflect well on the business’s brand and image.
Turn the Sponsor Lose
The Early Bird Raffle donor should be one of the first sponsors to sign up. Let the sponsor get involved with promoting and the presentation of the prize. Offer to let them set up the display with their own advertising slicks and promotional materials. Employees of the sponsor can volunteer to work the raffle table and represent the donor and promote the prize. As an ambassador for the business they have many opportunities to create goodwill and brand recognition.
Market the Early Bird Raffle
Promote this raffle well in advance of the event and in all your communications. Create a fly away notice and include it in the invitation. Add a graphic to the organization’s home page. Promote the Early Bird Hour in event email alerts and printed promotions. The Early Bird Raffle offers lots of advertising bang. The Early Bird hour should be fun, fast paced and exciting for those who attend.
When Should We Draw Winners
The winning ticket for the Grand Prize is always drawn first and can be pulled at the beginning of the dinner program. Giving away a prize before the main part of an event draws attention to the stage and gathers your guests into an emotional huddle and focused on the event’s purpose.