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Answer the Only Question Non-Profit Donors Have and You’ll Raise More Money Fundraising

2014 April 18
by Raffle Tickets

Your donors have only one question that bothers them.

If you want to acquire more donors, you have to answer it. If you want to raise more net revenue, you need to answer it. And if you want to increase the lifetime value of your donors, you must answer it.


Here’s their question: “How will my donation change the world?”

Donors are confused

Donors ask this question for a number of reasons. For one thing, they’re confused. If they live in Canada and want to support an organization that helps children with cancer, for example, should they donate to the Childhood Cancer Foundation, Canadian Cancer Society, Canadian Research Society, Cancer Recovery Foundation of Canada, Coast to Coast Against Cancer, Wellspring Cancer Support Foundation, Terry Fox Run, or someone else?

Many donors don’t know. Or can’t decide. So given that your non-profit organization has competitors who do similar work, you must tell prospective and current donors exactly how you will use their gift to transform lives. Otherwise your donors may donate somewhere else.

Donors have limited funds
There’s another reason you must tell your donors how their gift will make the world a better place. Some of them are on a fixed income. Others just retired. More than a few have student debt. Or other kinds of debt. Some are broke. Either way, they can’t support as many charities as they’d like, so they give their money to the few causes that promise to make the biggest difference with their gifts.

Donors fund specifics, not generalities
Given the choice between donating to “End Hunger in Your City” or giving a donation that buys “Thanksgiving dinner for $1.73″ for a man at the local homeless mission, you know what the donor will choose. And so does the donor. “How will my donation change the world?” is a question that demands a specific answer, not a general one. Supply the answer and your donor will supply the donation.

Don’t ask for a single donations until you can answer this question. That goes for every campaign, every appeal, every ask throughout the year, whether special events, direct mail, email appeal, face-to-face, telephone or online. Answering this question is the key to donor acquisition, renewal, retention, upgrading and lifetime value. Gert this one right, and you’ll get your whole program right.

And make sure your answer is clear, concrete and compelling. Your donors demand it, no question about it.
Alan Sharpe, CFRE, is a fundraising consultant, author, trainer and speaker. He serves as Senior Strategist at Harvey McKinnon Associates, the full-service fundraising agency specializing in direct mail and monthly giving for the nonprofit sector. Through his weekly newsletter, books, handbooks and workshops, Alan helps not-for-profit organizations worldwide to acquire more donors, raise more funds and build stronger relationships. Sign up for “Sharpe Tips,” Alan’s free, weekly, email newsletter, at
© 2011 Alan Sharpe.

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Raffle Prize Ideas for Fundraisers

2014 April 10
by Raffle Tickets

A well-run raffle with the right grand prize can raise incredible amounts of money for your school, church, or charity. Most groups underestimate how much money a raffle can raise.

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You can easily raise ten thousand with a simple raffle, tens of thousands with a desirable prize such as a new car, and hundreds of thousands of dollars with a truly deluxe prize such as a new home.

Cash prizes

From the late-1700s to the early 1900s, many public buildings and university expansions were funded by raffles. The raffle prize was always cash and the raffles always sold out all their chances.

Cash prizes allow people to dream of what they’d do with the cash if they won. Cash awards work best when ticket prices are fairly low and the grand prize is a significant multiple of ticket cost.

For instance, when you have a $10 ticket price, a $10,000 cash prize is a huge draw. Having lots of additional chances to win smaller cash prizes is another great raffle ticket sales incentive.

The most popular cash raffles combine low-priced tickets with a significant cash prize and several tiers of smaller cash prizes. Total cash awards should always be less than 50% of total ticket revenue.

Luxury prizes

Physical prizes that match the ticket buyers “wants” also do well. Vacation getaways, restaurant gift certificates, spa treatments, and other items with a luxury feel also work well as prizes.

And don’t forget prizes aimed at men such as sporting event tickets, sports memorabilia, golf-related gifts, and anything that goes fast or makes lots of noise are also good draws for ticket buyers.

You can combine luxury prizes with cash prizes or you can do raffle where all prizes consist of luxury items. Because some people will not want the luxury prize, you should always promote your raffle as offering an alternate cash value prize for any item offered.

Another option instead of offering a $10,000 first prize plus five $1,000 cash prizes, would be to switch the secondary cash prizes for things like a big screen TV, vacation packages, stereo system, Omaha steaks, etc. This type of combo raffle has widespread appeal.

Dream prizes

And the lure of “dream” prizes such as a new car or even a new house can’t be underestimated. It is a powerful emotional draw that really creates an urge to buy a ticket on the spot, and that emotional trigger is what you want in a big prize.

With dream prizes, more tickets will need to be sold with ticket prices correspondingly higher. A new car raffle might have tickets priced anywhere from $20 to $100, depending on how many tickets were being sold and the value of the vehicle.

A good rule of thumb is to keep ticket prices low enough to have widespread appeal without having to sell so many tickets that your volunteers run out of energy and prospects.

Prize costs

Obviously, you would love to have a dream prize such as a house or a car donated to your group, but that’s neither realistic or necessary. Obtaining a good discount is all you need to focus on since any discount directly translates into extra profits.

As with a cash raffle, keep your prize costs under 50% of total ticket sales. The larger the grand prize, the smaller the percentage can be.

For example, a car being raffled can have it’s MSRP pegged at 40% of total ticket revenue. With a good discount, your profit could end up at 67% of total revenue. A house being raffled can be positioned with it’s appraised value at 33% of total ticket sales.

How much can you raise?

Raffle profits vary wildly across the different prize categories. You can easily raise $10,000 with a cash raffle or one offering luxury prizes. When cash raffles are tied to well-publicized events like a golf ball drop, profits can easily exceed $25,000.

Car raffles will raise that much and more, depending on the desirability of the car being raffled, the ticket pricing and the overall ticket sales volume.

Raffling a new home can raise hundreds of thousands of dollars. I’ve even seen a group make several million dollars by raffling a luxury beach home. They sold 32,000 tickets at $150 each, grossing $4.8 million for a house appraised at $1.8 million.

Now that’s a raffle!


There is no single best raffle prize. Your choice of prize or prizes will vary depending on your financial goal, the size of your potential market, and how many volunteers you have to sell tickets.

Bigger prizes mean more tickets must be sold to turn a profit, but they also mean substantially higher profits. Design your raffle prize offerings to match your community’s tastes and always offer alternate cash awards in lieu of any physical prize.

Kimberly Reynolds writes for national publications about non-profit fundraisers, fundraising raffle prizes, and church fundraiser events. Find more school fundraiser tips on her website,

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5 Great Raffle Ticket Prize Ideas

2014 April 7
by Raffle Tickets

If you’re hosting a party or event and need to raise some money, a great way to do it is by offering raffle ticket prizes. You’ll want items that people will want to purchase tickets for in order to help raise the money. If you’ve got a small budget, you can still provide much wanted items that people will be willing to shell out for tickets. Here are 5 great raffle ticket prize ideas.



- Movie tickets/passes: everyone loves movie and a family night out with sodas, popcorn, and candy. However, it can run pretty expensive on the budget. So this is a great raffle ticket prize. Package together movie passes, food and drink coupons for a family of four and you have a great prize pack.

- Ham or turkey: if you’re hosting your raffle drawing around the holidays, a large ham or turkey is a perfect prize to raffle off. A baked ham or turkey will serve many people and help out with your large family meal. Not having to prepare the main meat is reason enough to enter the raffle prize to see if you can scoop up the big prize of meat.

- Electronics – iPod/Nook/Kindle: electronics are small, portable, and easy to use. By adding an iPod or other MP3 or an e-reader such as Nook or Kindle, you’ll draw people to purchase tickets due to a useful, needed item. As a special incentive, you could add some books or music onto the device before raffling it off. In any case, tickets are sure to fly with this prize offering.

- Visa/AmEx gift card: Who doesn’t like cash? Tossing a gift card into a raffle guarantees instant interest. The cards can be used anywhere for anything. The winner can use it for groceries or gas or toward travel. They can also turn around and give it as a gift, as well. It’s the next best thing to cash.

- Weekend getaway: This is a great raffle prize to offer. If you have a connection to a hotel or spa, see if you can get the time donated. Most anyone would love to have a weekend getaway at a ski resort or spa hotel or a simple resort. Add in a food package and you have one amazing giveaway to raffle off.

Raffle tickets are one of the simplest and most popular games for events and parties, including birthdays, contests, and even bridal showers. So next time you have a party or event, remember these raffle ticket prize ideas.

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