The Bourbon Raffle Hits Its Stride.

Charitable organizations have held raffles forever, but usually for a low ticket price and for modest items, especially when compared to silent and live auction items.  In the bourbon world, though, raffle item value has been increasing, and now 2023 is taking shape as the year of the bourbon raffle.

Not only have more bourbon raffles been launched so far this year than we typically see in an entire year, but we’re also beginning to see multiple lots available for each raffle ticket purchased, instead of just a single bottle or a vertical of particular brand.  Some current raffles have enough high-value items that they could have been run as an auction.

Does this signify donor fatigue with traditional silent and live bourbon auctions?  Or does it reflect the incredible need for planning, volunteer hours, and expense associated with auctions compared to raffles?

Holding a raffle is incredibly simple and it’s a method that donors trust, even though they understand that the chances of winning are slim.  A raffle also evens the playing field by giving access to small donors who would be outbid in an auction, but who still want to donate.  On the other hand, from the fundraising standpoint, a raffle abandons the psychological component of competitiveness in bidding, the element of FOMO, and getting caught up in the moment.

Depending on how much is raised, the current impressive raffles might set the stage for a transition away from auctions.  In many silent and live auctions, bidding slows to a crawl when FMV has been met, except for a handful of items that are particularly unique and the crowd has people who want to support the cause.  So long as a raffle is priced correctly, a charity could easily double or triple the value of the items if they are able to market the raffle broadly enough to sell the right number of tickets.  Lack of successful, targeted marketing for a raffle, though, will quickly result in doom for fundraising.

In the spirit of helping charities sell tickets, for anyone able and interested in donating, here are three bourbon raffles that I’m supporting:

  1. The “Kentucky Bourbon Raffle”  This might be the biggest bourbon raffle ever.  It benefits a cause near and dear to me—Educational Justice.  Tickets are $100 each, with a maximum of 2,000 available.  Each ticket gives you a chance at one of 22 tremendous lots—ranging from an entire barrel to a variety of rare and highly sought after bottles.  Winners will be selected on June 23, 2023.
  2. Pennyrile Habitat for Humanity  Western Kentucky still hasn’t recovered from the 2021 tornado and folks still need help.  Pappy raffles have become commonplace, but not this kind of Pappy raffle.  This raffle includes rare, vintage bottles, including a Japanese export and an otherwise unobtainable private selection.  Cost per ticket is $100 for a chance at three separate lots.  The maximum number of tickets seems high at 6,000, but it’s a great cause.  Three winners will be selected on May 5, 2023.
  3. The Kentucky Humane Society  I’ve supported KHS for decades and have my fingers crossed to win a complete Weller lineup.  The ticket price is also $100, but only 500 tickets will be sold, so your chances are much better for the money.  A winner will be selected on May 4, 2023.

Will bourbon raffles supplant bourbon auctions?  Let me know in the comments, and best of luck!

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