One of the most unique and successful fundraising projects to hit DU's grassroots scene is the focus of this month's Chapter Spotlight. However, that success resulted from the work of not just one DU chapter, but from 30 chapters. Nearly all of the DU chapters in northern Minnesota collborated to hold what is called a calendar raffle, and Scott Anderson, regional director for northern Minnesota and chairman of the fundraiser, said the collective effort from this group of chapters raised so much money for the ducks that the 2012 campaign has already begun.
The idea behind a calendar raffle is relatively straightforward. A calendar is sold as a raffle ticket, and each week, one name is pulled out of the hat to receive that week's prize. For the northern Minnesota chapters' raffle, each week's prize was a different type of gun, including the likes of a Benelli Vinci; a Super Black Eagle II; a Browning Gold 10; and a Henry Goldenboy Deluxe .22. The group charged $40 per calendar/ticket, and three months into the raffle, nearly all of the calendars had been sold, and in the end, more than $27,000 had been netted for the ducks.
"The calendar raffle was an amazing experience in fundraising ; once the calendars were printed, the local committees couldn't wait to get their hands on them, and the sales took off and didn't stop until they were gone," said Tim Roble, a volunteer who aided Anderson in organizing the raffle. "Most all of the calendars were sold in the first three months, with many committees wanting more. The number was set at 1350 calendars, knowing that would net the ducks at least $20,000. And everything went as planned, even better."
Though the campaign proved wildly successful, it didn't come without its fair share of challenges. Anderson planned for an entire year before setting the plan into motion, and once the ball was rolling, the responsibilities piled up. The biggest, in Anderson's opinion, was getting all of the northern Minnesota chapters to sign on to the collective effort and sell the calendars locally. Of course, setting up the rules and regulations; selecting the guns; finding and choosing photos of the guns; obtaining a printer; organizing the layout of the calendar; planning the budget; and tracking the sales were all challenges that fell into the mix. But in the end, the year of planning and preparatory work paid off in a big way.
"This was by far the most fun raffle I've ever done with DU," Anderson said. "Everyone, from those selling to those buying, were excited and talking about DU. I believe it is so successful because it's a good deal, and everyone buys a calendar anyway. Also, after we drew the week's winner, we put their name back in the hat, so really, everyone had something to look forward to each week all year long. We've already begun the raffle for 2012, and we're going to give away two guns per week, so there's an even greater chance of winning."
Perhaps most impressive about this initiative's success is the fact that all the marketing was done by the volunteers selling people calendars face-to-face. No posters, mailings or advertising, just old-fashioned door-to-door marketing, where DU volunteers stepped up to the plate and did the extra work necessary. Of course, once someone bought a ticket/calendar, they could visit the website Anderson set up, duckscalendar.org, to see the weekly winners posted. Currently, that site gets 500-550 hits a week it and includes links that drive traffic to the DU website.
Roble pointed out that another nice thing about this raffle was it was meant to be sold outside of the event process, giving volunteers an opportunity to raise money for DU during the summer between the spring and fall event season. This proved to be a win-win from every angle; the ducks got more money and the volunteers were able to garner more attention for their annual events through the face-to-face marketing. The dinner event ticket template was used as the raffle ticket so DU could capture every entrant's contact information for future raffles and events.
"This was the easiest $20,000 I have ever helped raise in my 22 years of volunteering with Ducks Unlimited," Roble said. "It is a no-brainer; the hard part is done and we now have the template made. I don't see why this wouldn't work in any region, district or state. Scott has done a great job laying the ground work, so this raffle can remain a success in his region for years to come as well as in other areas should they choose to undertake it."
The northern Minnesota chapters who collaborated to make this raffle a success included:
Lake of the Woods
North Crow Wing
Red Lake County
Lakes Area Ladies
Bemidji State University
East Grand Forks
Red Rock Ringbills
Northern Cass County