School raffles: Moving our raffle online has increased sales

Sophie Sundberg, of the Friends of Wren Academy, explains the benefits of an online raffle

As anyone who’s run a raffle will know, folding paper tickets takes a lot of time. With paper, you also run the risk of stubs being lost and you can end up dealing with huge amounts of cash. So when Covid restrictions forced us to rethink how we organised our fundraising at Wren Academy in Finchley, we decided to shift things online. After years of paper raffles, this was a revelation!

Our all-through school has almost 1,500 pupils, 420 of them primary. In the past the parents of the primary pupils were the ones most engaged with the PTA, but moving our raffles online meant tickets were more easily available to secondary school families who had less physical contact with the school. Plus the money from online ticket sales goes straight into our bank account – and we can track those sales in real time. We use Charity Hive because it is a complete fundraising platform where we can sell tickets for events, accept donations and run auctions.

A big part of our raffle success has been down to marketing and communications. My background is in design and marketing, so I create all the graphics and develop a carefully timed comms plan.

We usually launch the ticket sales four to six weeks ahead of the draw – and I upload images of the prizes on Charity Hive. There’s a soft launch with a letter from the school, and then I begin pushing the prizes on our Facebook page. We send out comms promoting the raffle once or twice a week on Facebook and on the class rep WhatsApp groups. In total, we do around ten ‘pushes’ and I try to track the sales relating to each one. The final message from the school goes out as a text a few days before the draw. From the tracking, it’s clear that this final alert has a massive impact on last-minute ticket sales.

We have an ongoing list of projects to fundraise for, including a school allotment and various workshops in STEM, wellbeing and literacy. We also provide funds for the school literacy support scheme, books, choir and music-related projects and workshops. Our Christmas raffle raised a fabulous £3,150 after platform costs, while last summer’s raised £2,200 after fees. Around 700 of the summer tickets were bought through posters with a QR code at our summer fair, so we’ll definitely use that method again!

With an online platform, you specify what time you want the raffle sales to end and when you want to do the draw. For Charity Hive, you simply log in and click ‘DRAW’. Then you receive a list of winning ticket numbers and names, alongside what prize they’ve won.

Having good prizes certainly helps and it’s important to keep things as exciting as possible. We’ve built strong relationships with parents who own businesses, often locally. The PTA chair sources the big prizes from our regular top five or so partners and then it’s a case of going through our spreadsheet of contacts and seeing what people can offer. This past year we have someone new helping us source the prizes and this has freshened things up because they’ve approached companies we haven’t contacted before. We aim to offer two tech prizes, such as an iPad or smartwatch, plus a Nintendo Switch or similar. Restaurant or afternoon tea vouchers go down well too. I would say that because our prizes are so good, people tend to spend an average of £10 to £25!

  • Sophie Sundberg, design, marketing and event lead, Friends of Wren Academy, Finchley

Download our easy to follow PDF, does your raffle need a licence?

Tips and advice

  • Licence: Do ensure you follow the licensing laws. Registering with your local authority is relatively easy.
  • Prizes: Keep pursuing options even late in the process and promote any significant additions.
  • Promotion: Use your school social media channels and work with your PTA to spread the word.
  • Tickets: If you send tickets home via children – clearly addressed to parents or guardians, so as not to fall foul of licensing regulations – make sure parents know more are available.
  • Payments: Accept cash and cards if you’re selling tickets at the school or an event.
  • Alternatives: Taking your raffle online can increase sales, make things easier and potentially more profitable. Another option is to run a text raffle where supporters buy tickets by texting a keyword. Lauren Crawford at Grand Avenue Primary School says: ‘We use DONATE for our text raffles. It’s easy to set up, and easy for people to enter, as all they have to do is text a word from their mobile to a five-digit number.’
  • Be clear: Follow the regulations regarding only people over 16 being involved in ticket sales. Make it clear in your communications that tickets can only legally be purchased by those who are 16 and over.

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