From left: Thomas Linn, Ward Dilmore, and Diane Linn
Editor's Note: Diane and Thomas Linn are part of the Encore Tours Ambassador (ETA) program -- a group of distinguished musicians with a wealth of knowledge on recruiting, building cohesive ensembles, and leveraging the transformative power of performance touring.
These ETA's are passionate about discussing their past touring experience, educating the next generation of group leaders, and helping other directors come together to share in the universal language of music.
MAXIMIZE THE BENEFITS OF ENCORE TOURS’ RAFFLE FUNDRAISER FOR YOUR ENSEMBLE: A HOW-TO GUIDE
From the Community Chorus of Detroit
Diane Linn, Executive Director and Board President
Thomas Linn, Finance Director and Legal Consultant
The 100-voice Community Chorus of Detroit (CCD) offers an international performance tour on alternate years, through Encore Tours. Encore’s raffle fundraiser, with its prize of a long weekend in Paris or London with hotel, breakfasts, and airfare for two included, is one key to the success of our tours, enabling greater participation. Not all of our choristers go on tour, but the raffle is a significant assist for many of our members.
First, some tips and ideas:
Your “touring ensemble”
We welcome everyone who would like to join us for the tour: our choristers, their companions, non-singing friends of the chorus, and non-CCD singers. On our last tour, we had 55 singers (CCD choristers plus non-CCD singers) and 17 non-singers, for a total of 72 participants. With our paid-to-free-trip ratio, we were able to provide full and partial fellowships to quite a few additional CCD singers, which – in addition to the raffle – enlarged our singer contingent. We call the whole group our “CCD Touring Choir.”
Ensembles use the raffle in different ways
Encore lets the ensemble leadership decide what’s best for their constituents; however, the full amount of the raffle ticket sales belongs to the ensemble, regardless of the fundraising approach, thanks to Encore. Some ensembles do whole-group fundraising, with all the profits from all fundraisers divided equally among the participants, including the raffle and other events like spaghetti dinners. We have a different idea, and we allow each ticket seller to keep all of their ticket-sales money to put toward their own trip cost, directly applied to their account at Encore. We find that this enables each person to choose the level of their own sales effort.
A lucrative fundraiser
We’ve had tour participants (singers and non-singers) raise as much as $2,000-2,500 with their raffle sales.
We sell our tickets for $15 each or a raffle-ticket book of five tickets for $50.
The raffle prize: London or Paris?
While the raffle prize Encore offers is for a long weekend in either London or Paris, on the winner’s choice of holiday weekends – either Veterans Day weekend or MLK weekend – we have always picked one destination, Paris, for the sake of simplicity in messaging. Of course, you could include the choice of destination options if you prefer, so the winner could choose. Note: The winner can extend his/her tour through Encore, for an additional cost.
Here in Michigan, we are required by law to pay a nominal fee and get a state license for a raffle, with the first request accompanied by a resolution of the jurisdiction’s city council or equivalent body. Other states have different – or no – requirements. It’s best to check with your state government and do what is required, for two reasons: you’ll want to do your raffle lawfully and having your raffle license number printed on your raffle tickets will assure purchasers that your raffle is legitimate.
Ticket purchases by ensemble members
You will find that some ensemble members buy the raffle tickets for themselves since they would have paid this money toward the cost of their tour anyways. We are fine with this, and the only time one of our choristers won the prize, he gave it as a gift to the pastor of his church. If you decide not to allow your ensemble members to buy tickets for themselves, you can add that into your list of raffle guidelines. We take a "the-more-the-merrier" approach.
Checks made to “Encore Tours”
Have all checks for ticket sales made out to “Encore Tours.” This avoids having to run the payments through your books, which streamlines the bookkeeping for the raffle. If the ticket sellers have received cash for any sales, ask that they write a personal check to “Encore Tours” for that amount, so that you have only checks.
Copying our handouts
We created handouts to help with your raffle preparation, and they are available in hyperlinks throughout as well as the resources section at the bottom of this post. We are glad to share these documents with you, so please feel free to adapt them for your ensemble.
Most important of all
It’s essential that you clear all wording you use about the raffle with your Tour Consultant, to avoid problems for you, your ensemble, and Encore. Some details on the handouts we’ve created will have changed by the time you use them, so please check before using it!
Second, the steps to having a successful raffle:
- About five to six months before your raffle, contact your state government to find out what, if anything, is required to have your raffle. You will likely need a state license. Also, contact your Encore Tour Consultant and ask if they have any tips or requests specifically for your group. To qualify for the fundraiser, groups traveling on an international trip must register 30 or more participants. For all groups traveling within the US or Canada who register 30 or more participants, Encore will provide two domestic airline tickets (excluding Alaska and Hawaii) to use as a fundraiser.
- About a month before your raffle, contact your printer and order your raffle tickets. For our group of 72, we ordered 2,500 numbered tickets in stapled books of five, for a total of 500 ticket books. Please note the wording on our ticket and the layout. All of it worked well. Had we run out of tickets, we’d have had more printed, but this amount was ample. FYI, we do not limit the total number of raffle tickets that people may sell.
- A couple of weeks before you begin your raffle-ticket sales, modify the materials we’re providing, changing dates and details as appropriate for your ensemble. Print enough of the Raffle Information/Ticket Sales Forms for your group (one set per person). Staple together all the sets of this two-page handout. Also, make a few hundred copies of the one-page handout, Information for Raffle Ticket Purchasers.
- At the first rehearsal when raffle tickets are available for your ensemble members to take, talk through the procedure for ticket sales with your group, as per the handouts you are distributing with the tickets. For those who miss your talk, the hand-outs are self-explanatory, and you can offer to answer questions individually, as needed. Give the following to each person who wants to participate:
- As many books of tickets as they’d like, to begin sales. Explain that they are responsible for returning all unsold tickets and payment for their sold tickets, so they are responsible for payment for any lost tickets. Additional tickets will be available each week until the drawing if they need more. Make a list of the sequence of ticket numbers you give each person.
- One copy of the Raffle Information/Ticket Sales Form handout, for their own information and reference.
- Ten or more copies of the Information for Ticket Purchasers. Important: Sellers should give out a copy of this page to every ticket purchaser they sell to.
- Continue to have all of the materials to give out at every rehearsal, until the date of your drawing. On that date, ask your ticket sellers to arrive about a half-hour early for rehearsal, in order to get their ticket sales processed for the drawing. Set up a table and two chairs outside your rehearsal room. Invite a friend to help you and lend a hand.
- A large container for the ticket stubs for the drawing
- A staple puller
- A folder for filled-out Ticket Sales Forms and all checks, that you will take from the drawing
- Lots of paper clips, to attach each person’s checks to their Ticket Sales Form
- Several pens
- One pair of scissors
- Pad of paper
- A trash bin
- One copy of the two-page “Terms and Conditions Information” for the prize winner
- To receive each member’s materials for the drawing, while they are still with you, count the number of the person’s individual ticket sales and the number of books sold, and the total amount of the checks they are turning in. Determine if their filled-out Ticket Sales Form is accurate and that you are clear on the total of their sales. Be sure that stubs on full books they’ve sold are all filled out and are all sold to one person. Then separate the books of stubs into individual stubs. All stubs go into your container for the drawing. When you’ve confirmed all the info, fill in and tear off the Receipt at the bottom of their form and give it to the seller to keep; paper-clip the person’s checks to their Ticket Sales Form and put these in your folder.
- Have the drawing for the winner! We always draw a name for the runner-up first, in case the winner is unable to use the trip. Make clear which drawing is for the runner-up and which is for the winner.
- Later, after the drawing (at your home or office), total the checks received and confirm that you are clear on the amount of money earned by each seller. Make a list of the sellers’ names and the total amount each one sold. Make a xeroxed copy for yourself and send the original list, along with the packet of all the checks (combined), insured for the full amount, to Encore Tours. Ask your Tour Consultant beforehand to whom the money should be sent and let them know when you are mailing it. Also, ask how long it will be before the payments are posted on the individual sellers’ accounts, and then let your ensemble members know.
- Give the one-page “Terms and Conditions Information” to the winner, for an explanation of how to claim the prize and what the terms and conditions are.
You will have taken in many thousands of dollars, for a super-successful fundraiser! Congratulations! Now you are in great shape to take off on your performance tour!
Regardless of wherever you live and work, please feel free to visit our website or email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. If you’re in Michigan, we can answer state-specific questions about your raffle, too.
Fabulous Fundraiser Resources:
- Flyer for raffle ticket purchases
- Raffle ticket
- Raffle information
- Terms and conditions for the prize winner
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