About 50-50 Raffles

by M.H. Dyer

A 50-50 raffle is a simple fundraising idea that can earn a generous return for a deserving cause, charity or nonprofit organization. Tickets are sold at a single event, with the total proceeds divided evenly between the charitable purpose and the lucky winner, who is chosen by a random draw. Pro sports teams with big venues and huge crowds often conduct 50-50 raffles, but the concept is the same for small clubs or organizations.

Legalities

Whether your organization is large or small, the first step is to check with your state's gaming commission, county clerk or county board of commissioners. Raffles, which are games of chance, are highly regulated and illegal in some states. Most states allow raffles under certain conditions, although licenses are sometimes required. Some states limit the number of raffles an organization can hold in a single year, while others allow raffles without a license for small organizations or events. Plan ahead; licensing can be a lengthy procedure that may take weeks or even months.

Setting the Rules

Once you have cleared the 50-50 raffle with your state regulating agency, planning a raffle is relatively simple. However, it's important to set the rules of the game before selling tickets. Determine how much tickets will cost, which may or may not be limited by the licensing agency. You may be able to earn more money if you sell tickets in advance, but some states require that tickets be sold at the event only. Decide when ticket sales will be closed, when and how the winner will be announced, and if the winner must be present to win.

Publicity

Your local newspaper is often the best place to announce your 50-50 raffle. Write a press release and submit it to the paper. Additionally, many papers provide calendars of charitable events free of charge. Include the press release in your organization's newsletter or on its website, and place fliers or posters at strategic locations in your community. Announce the raffle at the beginning of the event, and count down the time at regular intervals to generate excitement before announcing a last call for tickets shortly before the drawing.

Selling the Tickets

Tickets are usually sold by volunteers who are stationed at a small table near the entrance of the venue. Alternatively, ticket sellers with carpenter-style aprons can wander through the crowd. Often, a roll of serrated double tickets is the only expense involved in a 50-50 raffle. One ticket is handed to the buyer and the other is dropped into a container. If you sell tickets in advance, be sure each buyer writes his contact information on the ticket before dropping it into the container. If your raffle requires the winner to be present, set a time limit for claiming the prize ahead of time. If the winner doesn't claim the prize within the set time, draw another ticket.

About the Author

M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.

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