What Is A Flash Mob Raffle?

Flash Mob - Fundraising Auction Revenue Enhancer

Have you ever found yourself daydreaming about a fast, easy way to raise lots of money in mere minutes? If so, your dream come true may be the flash mob raffle.

A flash mob is when something happens out of nowhere. Artistic groups do it on the streets or in a subway; they’ve been known to just spontaneously start performing a dance or song. The same can happen in a raffle, and it has developed over the last decade as  a proven tactic in generating lots of revenue in a short amount of time, regardless of the size of your event.

In today’s nonprofit special event world of short on time, space and staff/volunteer resources, the flash mob raffle is a proven solution to maximize revenue generation for a raffle, no matter the size of the audience.

So how is it done?

Before the event, you have to do two important things. First, you must have a great prize, such as a fabulous trip for two, large flat screen TV, lunch with the mayor, or any other prize that might appeal to your group.

Once you have the price, marketing is crucial. You need to advertise the prize in all of your marketing material—in print and in any e-advertisements that you send. You want to create a sense of anticipation and competition that builds leading up to the event. Tickets are not pre-sold; they are only sold at the event. The flash mob scenario comes into play this way: no one knows when the tickets will be sold during the event.

Raffle prize winner

Quite simply you want to run a short 3-5 minute raffle “out of the blue” maximizing the element of surprise and the energy created to sell as many raffle tickets as possible.

At the event, be sure to showcase the prize in a high-traffic area. Make signage that draws people to the attraction. “Get Ready to Win” or “Buy Your Tickets To Win” are good examples. The display and the flash mob scenario together create a sense of urgency to buy tickets and join in the fun.

Nonprofits who have both a live auction and raffle have had success doing the flash mob raffle right before the live auction kickoff. The winner is announced after the first or second live auction item has been completed. If you have just a raffle, you can insert it at a point in your program that keeps people engaged when you transition from one activity to the next.

When you do the flash mob, have volunteers work their way through the crowd to take cash or collect their bidder number for tickets. They can have clipboards to write down buyers, or you can just use the two-part tickets that make it much faster without all the writing. Or you can have volunteers enter purchases on iPads or smartphones into your fundraising software.

Set a time limit for ticket sales, such as five minutes, to create a sense of urgency. Take all the ticket entries and draw for the prize, then announce the winner during the beginning part of your live action.
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Be sure and have your photographer take action shots of ticket purchasing and the general frenzy so you can use the photos to generate excitement for next year’s event.

And of course, take photos the winner, and if the donor of the prize is present, include him or her too. It helps with publicity and it helps future potential donors know how they’ll be acknowledged at your event.

Renee’s Advice

Note: Many states have specific rules that govern auction games. Make sure to check your state’s raffle licensing laws as well as your organization’s bylaws. Also, check on alcohol sales rules and permits, as well as firearms, if those will be available at your event or in the auction.
  • This is quite the conversation generator during the pre-event function, as no one knows when or how it will happen. So there is an incredible sense of anticipation and urgency to join in.
  • The idea is to have sales happening while the auctioneer and/or emcee is announcing the rules of the game, discussing what they will win, thanking the donor of the prize, and making other announcements that typically need to happen at this point in the evening.
  • On average, it takes three to five minutes to sell out a raffle and then draw for the prize.
  • Once the winner is announced, Renee encourages photos to be taken on the side of the stage with the winner and raffle team, when possible, so this can be used in marketing material both for donor prize recognition, and to show future donors how their donation will be acknowledged at an event.

Some Personal Insight from Renee

Over the last decade, I have studied refining this raffle selling method and have determined the best point in the program to conduct this is at the beginning of the auction, with the winner being announced after the first live item or second, at the latest. Again, it is about creating a sense of urgency, selling out, and keeping the audience engaged into the next portion of the program.

Try the flash mob and have fun!

This article is part of our 26 Proven Revenue Enhancers for Your Fundraiser eBook available as a free download. If you looking for new revenue enhancing ideas and how to incorporate them into your event—this easy-to-use lookbook is for you.

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