Raffles Done Right

When you’re planning a fundraising gala, one of the top goals is to create an enjoyable experience for your guests. Your donors are the lifeblood of your organization, and providing them with a memorable evening is paramount. While flashy décor, top-notch entertainment, and hot silent auction items all contribute to excellent guest experience, one of the best ways to get your guests engaged in the evening is by holding a raffle.


From wine walls to mystery bags to a drawing for a shiny new BMW, we’ve seen it all. There are countless ways to engage those guests who may not have found something that’s just right for them at the silent auction tables. Walking away from the raffle table an instant winner, or even a possible winner, can help your guests feel more connected to your event. This in turn can make them more likely to commit to a donation during your asking moment later in the evening.


There several things to consider when settling on what types of games you’d like to offer at your event. Most boil down to different iterations of the same basic principle: you know your guests best. Offer what they’ll be interested in! Here are some tips to help you make sure that your raffles & games go off without a hitch and provide that unique flair that keeps your guests returning year after year.


Know the Rules


Did you know that many states consider games such as a wine pull to be gambling? Auction Harmony’s home state of Minnesota regulates raffles and forbids organizations from extending a line of credit for a “game of chance.” This is one often overlooked factor that, when not handled properly, could leave you mired in paperwork, unnecessary fines, and serious long-term penalties following your event.


So what does this mean for you? First, the organization offering the game must consult with their local Gambling Control Board representative to apply for the proper permits. States impose many restrictions upon such games, like how many per year can be offered with alcohol as prizes, age restrictions for guests, and others. Second, any purchase made by a guest for a chance to win an item, or even for an item of unknown value, may not be processed on a credit card. Therefore, transactions for such games must be made on either a debit card, or by cash/check.


To avoid headaches, begin by contacting your local Gambling Control Board specialist to find out if your organization qualifies to legally offer games of chance. If so, file for the permits and let us take care of the rest! Our touch screen tablets automatically detect what type of card the guest registered with when we checked them in at registration. If they only have a credit card on file, we’ll prompt them to either register a debit card on the fly or collect a different form of payment from them, thereby making the transaction perfectly legal. It’s as simple as that, and now you don’t have to worry about recording raffle transactions separately!


Choose Prizes Wisely


Choosing the right kind of games to fit your event is just as important as making sure you’re operating within legal bounds. Is your donor base made up of Millennials who order Manhattans at the bar to be cool like Don Draper? Maybe a wine wall wouldn’t be best for that group. Consider a mystery bottle of whiskey instead. Options abound for local and regional distilleries! Looking to wow your guests as they walk through the door? Maybe you have connections at a dealership to raffle off a brand new car.


If there are big ticket items like this that you’d like to promote in the weeks and months leading up to the event, our Auction Preview service could be just right for you. If you choose to offer multiple games, it’s a good idea to vary the price points your guests can purchase at. Remember, you want the largest possible number of guests to find a price they feel comfortable donating at, whether it’s the high-rolling $20,000 cash donor or the $20 wine pull participant. If you’re having trouble deciding on what to offer, remember that your Auction Harmony Event Manager would be happy to help! We’ve seen lots of raffles and can help you narrow down what would be a good fit.


Above all, we want you to meet your goals when we partner with you for your event. If offering raffles & games will help you towards that end, we’re proud to offer services to help you do so legally and without headaches. We also want your guests to remember how easy it was to purchase a cork in the wine pull, not how much of a pain it was to run downstairs to the ATM. So get your permits, number the corks, and let us handle the rest!