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Fund Raising - Tricky Trays

Fund raising is always a fun thing to do. You get to beat your brains to a pulp, hand over all your money to some worthy cause and go home with nothing to show for it but a big thank you. Oh but what a great feeling those thank you's are. One of the most popular ways of raising funds for that worthy cause is through the running of a tricky tray. A little history of the tricky tray. For starters, they weren't always called tricky trays. Back in the good old days, they were called Chinese auctions, but in an effort to be politically correct, the term Chinese auction was done away with, at least in most parts of our civilized society. The term tricky tray has been used ever since.

A tricky tray is really nothing more than a massive raffle. Instead of raffling off just one item or even a couple of items, what you're basically raffling off is a room full of items. Depending on how much stuff you can get your hands you may actually end up with several rooms full. So where does all this stuff come from? That's the hard part.

The items auctioned off in a tricky tray are basically donated, either from the people running the tricky tray itself or from store owners in their various neighborhoods. Most store owners are pretty cooperative when people come around asking for items to donate, but there are some who clearly place signs in their windows that say, "no donations". It's getting harder and harder to run these things all the time.

Once all the items have been acquired, the next step is to set them all up. Presentation is everything and therefore you just don't throw them on the tables. What you should try to do is arrange the items in a way where they go with each other. In other words, if you've gotten a number of donations such as perfumes or stuffed animals, you should try to have them all grouped together. This way, people who are interested in one type of item don't have to go very far to put in their tickets. Which brings us to how this works.

The system itself is basically very simple. There are companies that make special cards for these types of raffles. A person will buy a card, which might contain about 20 tickets and will then break up the tickets into individuals and throw the individuals into tin cans placed next to each item. After all the tickets have been placed, the drawings begin. One ticket is chosen from each tin can. If you've got 300 items to raffle off, this could take quite a few hours. This is why these fund raisers usually include the selling of food during the event.

Tricky trays are great fund raising activities. Even though most of the items aren't really worth much, people love winning things. It's the thrill of the chase that makes a tricky tray fund raising gala something to look forward to.

Try running one some time. You won't be sorry.

Michael Russell Your Independent guide to Fund Raising