Tips for running a raffle or tombola
Raffles and tombolas are frequently run alongside events
to boost profits. But the type of raffle or tombola you run will
depend on the event and attendees...
When a raffle is part of a larger event such as a fair or fun
day, it's likely that you'll pre-sell tickets in advance to
maximise ticket sales, and publicise your prizes! Pre-selling
tickets means that you will need to register as a small society
- Register with your local authority. If your
proceeds do not exceed £20,000 for a single draw and your society
has been set up for non-commerical purposes, you can register as a
small society lottery to enable you to pre-sell tickets for a
raffle. See guidance from the Gambling Commission. Register with your local
authority - there will be a £40 registration fee, as well as an
annual fee to maintain registration.
- Top prize. To entice ticket-buyers, secure a
top prize, and maybe two good runner-up prizes. Supporters are more
likely to buy tickets if their potential win is something exciting
such as an iPad or a holiday getaway, rather than a bottle of
bubbly... and they're likely to encourage friends and relatives to
buy tickets too! Getting top prizes donated will be an added bonus,
but if you can't, then purchasing a top prize will still be
- Printers. Pre-selling tickets means that you
must show the name of the promoting society, ticket prize, name and
address of the organiser and the date of the draw on the tickets.
If your top prize is secured in time, get details of this printed
onto your tickets too, enticing supporters to take part. There are
many raffle ticket printers to choose from, browse our suppliers directory.
This is your smaller, tombola-style raffle where you sell a
strip of cloakroom-style tickets for £1 (although it's your
choice!), and have a tombola drum to pick out the winning tickets.
Source donated prizes in advance from local businesses, supporters,
and friends of your cause - tying this into the theme of the event
works well. Catch people on their way through the doors, during the
interval/break and while they're at the bar! As most people are
happy to part with £1 for a strip, rather than 20p for a single
ticket, charge £1 per ticket instead of per strip - everyone
still has the same odds, but you have much less of a job on your
hands writing phone numbers on the back and folding them to go into
the draw! Draw the tickets at the end of the night, asking the
winners to choose a prize.
Another type of tombola, run at bigger events, is where you
stick raffle tickets onto your prizes, putting its twin ticket in a
bucket or container. Not all tickets are potential winners, usually
just the ones ending in a 0 or 5. The options for tombola themes is
endless. Make sure you match the type of prize, to the people
attending the event:
- Teddy - ask for donated soft toys. Wash and maybe even add a
name to each teddy
- Chocolate - better in the winter when it won't melt
- Bottle - anything from alcohol to shampoo or ketchup (only over
18s can take receipt of an alcoholic prize, but under 18s can still
- Sweet jar - fill up different-sized jars with wrapped
Chinese raffle. Ever heard of a Chinese raffle?
This involves very little running at the event, working in a
similar way to a silent auction. People buy their raffle tickets,
getting both halves. Prizes are placed on display with a bucket in
front of each prize. Players divide their raffle tickets, put one
half in the bucket of the prize they would like to win and keep the
other half. The winners are then drawn from each bucket, with
players producing the matching ticket to claim their prize.
Lucky squares. If you don't have the time or
manpower to source prizes, an alternative is a £50 grid or 'lucky
squares'. Place a crisp £50 note in an envelope, then create a grid
on a large sheet of paper with numbers, usually from 1-100,
allowing space for people's names. Sell squares at £1 a go, writing
players' names in their chosen square(s). One player per square.
Players can choose as many numbers as they like, so have enough
squares for the size of your audience. Remove the £50 note from the
envelope - the last 2 digits of the 10-digit code printed on the
front of your banknote, gives you the winner!
Read our FAQs guide on licensing for raffles and
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