(Courtesy: Rick Pasturczak and the Grant Community High School Class of 1970)

(Photo credit Kathleen Prokesch; Courtesy Sayville.com)

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Potential Revenues:


Revenue Source:

Sale of raffle tickets to be used to bid on one or more donated items


Varies, but usually in conjunction with a larger event like a dinner, gala, or ball


Tables to display items, two-up raffle tickets, containers for raffle tickets


Every individual and business willing to donate an item

Volunteers Needed:

People to solicit businesses and individuals for the donated items, people to help put out the displays and bid containers, people to sell the raffle tickets

How It Works:

Although no one is really certain where the name came from, the Chinese Auction is a fun twist on the traditional silent auction and raffle formats.  Instead of trying to outbid the previous bidder, or buying a raffle ticket for a chance on a single item, the Chinese Auction works differently.  You buy a quantity of raffle tickets and place one or more of the tickets into a container that’s been placed in front of the item that you want to win.  Later, a winning ticket is pulled from each of the containers. 

Set up a table near the entrance where people can see the items and where they can buy the tickets.  Explain how the Chinese Auction works, and tell them to keep the matching half of the two-up raffle ticket to claim their prize.  Sell the raffle tickets in blocks of 10 or 20 for $1 each.  You can also go with tiers where you create an incentive to buy more tickets.  For example:

1 Ticket

$ 1

5 Tickets

$ 4

10 Tickets

$ 7

20 Tickets



Make sure they know that they can use more than one ticket for an item.  Tell them that they can increase their chances of winning an item by placing a large number of tickets into any item’s raffle ticket container.  The odds are still based on the number of tickets entered, but they will view this as “putting the odds in their favor.”

Ideas to Consider:

Always save your best items for a live auction.  A good auctioneer or emcee can really run up the contributions for you (see Live Auctions). Also consider a separate table for silent auctions.  In that manner, you capture the interest of someone who wants to “make sure” that they are the successful bidder for an item (see Silent Auctions).

The Chinese Auction is really intended for a group of items that are considered “nice to have,” but really don’t have a strong enough draw to get into a bidding war over.  For instance, a toaster, a small TV, an iPod, a dozen golf balls, as well as items valued under $25. 

Why give away an all-day spa treatment or a trip to an exotic place, when that item could be auctioned off for more than the entire raffle proceeds?  The idea is to maximize your donations by having multiple ways for supporters to contribute.  The Chinese Raffle adds that element for people that don’t like to partake in the silent bid process. 

You should always use multiple venues in your events.  Include silent auctions, live auctions, straight-up raffles, and now the Chinese Auction.

Source of Idea:  Unknown.  Source of information above: www.Wikipedia.org  under “Chinese Auction,” and an event held in 2008 by the Spiritual Center of Westlake Village.

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