Mock Raffle Prize ticket

The insider’s guide to getting raffle prizes from small businesses

Getting a raffle prize from a business isn’t quite as simple as you might think.  Children’s businesses, like Tots Town can get inundated with requests and some inevitably can’t be supported. When we aren’t at work, some of our team are volunteers and Trustees for various charities and so we are both the senders and a recipient of requests for raffle prizes.  Today, we share an insider’s view on how a play venue will handle these inquires and what you should be doing to increase the likelihood of getting a prize donation.

Volunteers are heroes

First of all, thank you so so much volunteering to help raise funds for a worth charitable cause.  It’s so much harder than people realise and we know from our own experience that you get a real buzz when it’s completed.  Now if you are running any sort of prize drawer, raffle, or tombola, you may decide to ask local businesses to donate prizes. But how can you convince a local business to donate?  In this blog, we will share our tips with you specifically for approaching small businesses and role play venues. Now yes, we are avoiding large business chains here because they tend to have a policy that staff follow, whereas small businesses can tend to just follow the mood of the owner day by day.  So let’s talk about small business owners.

Think like a business owner

You need to remember that most small business owners work really hard for their money; if you ask them to donate a prize then they could well feel like they are donating cash from their own pocket…..because that’s effectively what they are doing!  Here at Tots Town, if we give away a free play session, that’s one less ticket we can sell to a paying customer, and because we only sell a limited number of tickets per play session that is one less paying child we are accepting. It’s the same for many other small businesses; your raffle prize really is money from the owners pocket. One reason we wanted to open a role play centre was to help the community, donating raffle prizes offers this opportunity.  So here’s our suggestions for asking a small business for a prize.

  1. Make your request personal. The business owner is a person!  Find out their name (maybe it’s on their website, if not just phone up the business and find out who to send the letter to).  Opening a letter to read ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ basically says to the recipient ‘I have sent the same letter to multiple businesses and I didn’t feel the need to spend more than a few seconds sending this letter to you too’.    Addressing someone by their name means that you recognize them personally.
  2. Make your request relevant. Tell the business owner why you think a prize from them would be perfect for your event.  Maybe you have been to their business and  can talk about the things you like about it. You could then say why you think the prize recipients would enjoy going to their play venue or using their service.  Asking for a prize from a children’s play venue to be awarded at a High School Fete probably isn’t as relevant as it is a pre-school playgroup.  Some days we get 2 or 3 prize requests and while we would like to supporth them all, if we did then there would have no money to reinvest back in the business. A little flattery and relevant comments will help you stand out.
  3. Tell the owner about the event. What is happening at the event? What are you raising money for? How will the prize be awarded and how will other people find out about your prize. Saying that the business logo will be on a programme of events, or that it will be displayed on the prize table for everyone to see, will help the owner feel they are getting some business benefit beyond just that of pride from supporting a worthy cause.
  4. Prove you are genuine. Nothing beats a hand written letter to stand out, but in reality, email or Social Media messages are more practical. You will look much more credible if you have an email account that looks official, can link to a charity website, or best still encloses a letter from someone credible, like a headteacher, who can be contacted to confirm the request is genuine. Occasionally we are approached in Tots Town by customers hand delivering letters of request.
Be smart – Say Thank you

With these tips in mind, there is one last thing we encourage you to do….take a minute to get ready for next years event. I know this sounds a bit keen, and that it might not be you volunteering at next years charity event but someone else will. If a business has given you support to run an event, they deserve a thank you. Keep it simple, just an email with perhaps a few pictures of the event and some information about how the event went. You wiIl be surprised at how few people don’t do this and I promise that if last years volunteer had done this, you will find it much easier to get support from a business this year.

So remember that small business owners are persons, that they get multiple requests and that you need to stand out by recognising them as individuals and by being relevant to the owner. Now if you have any tips you want to add, then send them through to us at play@tots-town.co.uk  We can’t wait to hear from you and we promise to consider them in the next update to this blog.