Charity auctions and raffles are great ways to raise money, but there are many factors to consider before deciding which is the best way to meet your fundraising needs. The ability to pull off a successful and profitable event depends on your resources. They both require planning and organization. Advertising is necessary, along with acquiring donated items or prizes for auctions or raffles.
Raffles are pretty simple and straightforward. They are used by a variety of groups and organizations to raise money, such as schools, churches, and charities. A raffle is similar to a contest, but you compete by purchasing a ticket for a chance to win a prize. The winning ticket is chosen from however many are sold, in a random manner to give everyone a fair chance. The prize could be something small like a gift card or concert tickets, or it could be an expensive item such as a brand new car or an all expenses paid vacation package. The more tickets you purchase, the greater your chance of winning, as this will increase your probability of having the winning ticket. The items that serve as winning prizes are typically donated by businesses that use the opportunity to advertise a wide range of products and services.
The time frame for a raffle from start to finish can be a few days or a few weeks, depending on what’s being raffled and other factors. After all the raffle tickets are sold, the group or organization that’s holding the raffle will collect all the entries and randomly pick a winner. Sometimes the winner is notified of their winning ticket via phone, mail, or social media – but in some cases ticket holders will be advised that their presence is required at the drawing in order to claim the prize. In the case of an extravagant prize, the drawing may be held at a special event with a lot of fanfare.
Charity auctions are typically held by nonprofit organizations, or any organization or group of people who wish to raise money for a good cause. There are different kinds of auctions, but most of them are categorized as live or silent auctions. Both types auction off donated items to raise money, but in different ways. These items can be obtained from a variety of sources, including retailers, restaurants, food and beverage suppliers, airlines, hotels, and even professional sports teams. A live auction has an auctioneer that interacts with the bidders, while a silent auction provides the bidders with opportunities to view and examine displayed items and then make their bids anonymously. The highest bidder wins the item in both. Charity auctions are typically held at event spaces with bidders receiving invitations beforehand. Entertainment, food, and refreshments are sometimes provided, along with a list of available items in the case of silent auctions.
The main function of raffles and charity auctions is to raise money, and auctions definitely have an advantage over raffles in this area. Auctions have the capability of drawing large crowds of people to bid on big ticket items. This can bring in large sums of money in a short period of time. People at auctions, both live and silent, are usually more motivated to participate in the bidding process and part with large amounts of cash. Getting people to buy more than a few raffle tickets may be a bit more difficult. Live auctions also have the added advantage of an auctioneer, whose job is to perform and control the bidding process. Part of their job includes getting the crowd involved and motivated to place bids.
Another aspect of charitable events is recruiting volunteers. Depending on the size of your event and type of auction, the amount needed will vary, but you can carry off a decent sized auction with as few as 3 or 4 volunteers. A raffle on the other hand, would require many more people or hours of work to sell enough raffle tickets to make a comparable amount of money.
Another advantage of holding a charity auction is that people are more likely to part with their money if it’s going towards a good cause, especially something dear to their heart. They will also receive a nice item for their contribution, sometimes a one-of-a-kind piece, like a work of art. Raffles on the other hand, are a gamble – much like playing the lottery. The thought of paying for something with no guarantee of getting anything of value in return may not appeal to as many people. The exception might be if the raffle tickets are cheap, but then you will have to sell many more tickets or recruit more volunteers in order to reach your goal.
Silent auctions can be used whether you have a few items or many; it’s just a matter of space and setting up the tables. If you only have a small number of items, you can incorporate your auction into another event and do it as a fun activity when your guests have free time. You will only need a few people to plan and execute the entire auction, unless you have a substantial amount of items and time constraints. You can raise a good portion of money even with a small amount of quality items. This type of auction practically runs itself. Everything that’s needed is provided to your guests, and it’s up to them to look at all the items, decide which they want, and place a bid by filling out the cards. Many large organizations have silent auctions at their events throughout the year as part of their fundraising efforts. Some attendees will participate in the auction just to provide additional support to the organization, or just for fun.
Live auctions are a lot more exciting because it’s moment by moment action. When you see a must-have item, there are probably at least one or two others that also have their eye on it. This often leads to a bidding war and potential increase in funds raised. Live auctions have an auctioneer to hype up the crowd and encourage more people to bid, which usually drives up the prices of the items being auctioned. People get lost in the excitement and things can get very competitive. The extra money raised for each item can really add up.
If you have a large number of items to sell, you can combine styles of auctioning and separate the items by price. Live auctions are better for big ticket items, as a good auctioneer can usually drive up the prices during the bidding wars. The items of lesser value can be placed on tables throughout your event, so guests will have easy access and can visit them as often as they like during breaks or intermissions.