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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... 

Pre-sold tickets

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 lottery.

  • 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 worthwhile.
  • 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.

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Cloakroom-style raffle

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.

Tombola themes

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 take part)
  • Sweet jar - fill up different-sized jars with wrapped sweets


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 lotteries.


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