How To Raffle Your House

PLEASE READ THIS ENTIRE BLOG ENTRY:

WE DO NOT RAFFLE HOMES…so contacting us to assist you with a house raffle will be a fruitless effort. 

Good Luck to all of you!

I’ve decided to re-post this blog entry because of the overwhelming amount of traffic that this site is getting from people interested in raffling their homes…a sign of the times indeed.  Many have suggested that some sort of National Raffle could contribute to solving this country’s housing woes.  An interesting concept.  Below is the original post on How to raffle Your House followed by an update including a link to Charitable Gaming Laws for each state in the country (it seems Florida doesn’t allow raffles and might want to consider changing that legislation).

With housing markets slumping across the country, I have been receiving an unbelievable amount of inquiries in to just how to go about successfully raffling off your house. Since I have absolutely NO experience with such a house raffle, I posed the question to Bruce Anderson, CEO of San Mar Children’s Home and one of the successful orchestrators of such a raffle that took place in Hagerstown, MD. It’s not easy at all says Bruce but he graciously offered the following for anyone who is considering a house raffle:

Having just completed a very successful house raffle in which we raffled a house ($380,000) and a car in 77 days resulting in a $214,000 net profit for the charity we have been besieged with calls and emails from all across the country asking us to tell others how to do it. The Maryland Secretary of State, the office issuing the required permit to conduct a house raffle, tells us that since the conclusion of our raffle they have been receiving more permit requests than ever before from persons who desire to replicate what we have done. Unfortunately, most will fail.

Conducting a house raffle is a high-risk adventure with no guarantee of success. With that having been said let me share a few of the observations, if not actual lessons, gleaned from our recent experience:

  1. Do your homework ahead of time. Many raffles fail due to the persons beginning without a good understanding of what is involved in the process, and therefore plan improperly.
  2. Get the right nonprofit from the outset. Each state is going to require that the raffle be conducted by a nonprofit organization. If you are the homeowner it is vital to match up with a charity that has the ability to accomplish such an event. How can you tell? Well, as stated earlier there is no guarantee, however, look for the following: Do they have a track record of knowing how to raise money? Do they have an active board that believes such a project can succeed? Are they as a board willing to work to make it successful? Have they helped other projects of the organization? Do they have connections to the media? What is their reputation in the community? What is their appeal to the broader community beyond the local area? Do they have vision for their organization?
  3. Beware of narrow marketing. Market beyond your local community. Many raffles fail due to marketing only to their own community. One of the biggest mistakes is to not allow enough time to complete the project. Typically a house raffle should take between six and eight months. That may be true, however, we completed ours in 77 days due to marketing beyond our own community. Additionally, do not limit marketing efforts to any one or two actions. For example don’t think sending letters to your mailing list and a letter in the paper is going to sell all your tickets. Get as creative as you can and generate as much momentum as possible in as many ways you can. Some of the things we did: Sent a mailing to our mailing list, put up posters all over the county, contacted the local paper and convinced them of the interest behind a family raffling their home (we ended up with 6 front page – Sunday editions that specifically talked about he story), The local TV station picked up the story, AP press ran the story opening the door to numerous newspapers around the world, we ran a story in the Chamber of Commerce newsletter, we spoke before service groups, we wrote of the event in numerous blogs, we contacted radio stations all over America and shared how we had a AP story of interest. That lead to numerous interviews. One radio station in Florida followed the story regularly interviewing the Realtor we worked with at regular intervals. These are just a few!
  4. Set up a website for on-line (secure) credit card purchases. Have this in place as soon as you are ready to go. We had our website and credit card processing system in place but not before the local paper ran a front page story of what we hoped to do. We were able to contact an Associated Press reporter and convinced him to pick up the story. The problem was that the story went national before we had a permit. We simply took orders and did not process any cards until the permit was in hand. Include on the website a counter that gives regular and accurate feedback as to the progress of ticket sales. We were amazed at the number of people who were following the progress daily (We also set up a stat counter on the website).
  5. Pay absolute attention to details and use integrity in everything. We maintained meticulous records of every ticket sold. We kept all ticket stubs in alphabetical order so when someone called and told us they purchased a ticket on-line and never received a stub in the mail we were able to at once find their records and get a copy to them. At the end, the day of the drawing, we turned everything over to a CPA firm and had them conduct an audit on all the tickets so that we could testify to the truth of a ticket being in the barrel for every person making a purchase.
  6. Determine to enjoy the process and attack every obstacle with tenacity!
    These are just a few of the things we did and learned. Will we do it again? We have certainly been asked … we shall see!

    Bruce T. Anderson, CEO San Mar Children’s Home

Thanks so much Bruce for your time and energy in providing these excellent tips.

And to those considering this as means to unload your house…

REMEMBER…IT AIN’T EASY!!!

Update November 2008:

The amount of traffic to this site and this post specifically has been overwhelming and a strong indication of the masses of people who are struggling to sell their homes.  Since I have no personal experience with running a successful house raffle and certainly can’t help anyone raffle their home, I am offering the following link that I think is the best place to start to determine the state office that you must contact in order to get the proper permits/licenses to hold a charitable raffle.

State Charitable Gaming Laws <—this is the LINK

Update December 2008:

Please read The Sad Truth About House RafflesMost of these raffle attempts are failing.

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