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Political

A sideways look at a Liberal Democrat institution: how to run a Lib Dem raffle, properly

A Lib Dem raffle ticket

Chances are, if you’ve been to a Liberal Democrat event, you’ve bought a raffle ticket or two. Now don’t get me wrong. I like raffles. Some of my best friends run raffles. I’ve even won a few Lib Dem raffle prizes over the years.

But for such a popular Liberal Democrat activity, we are often surprisingly poor at running raffles.

In perhaps three raffles out of five, by the time you get to the final few prizes, just about everyone in the room (if they are still paying attention) is impatient for the raffle to end. The presence of too many prizes is exacerbated by the habit of someone saying, “oh not me; put it back and draw another one”. Somewhere there is a group of Liberal Democrats trapped in a never-ending raffle that started in 1989.

There are some wonderfully run raffles – hats off to Putney for their lovely tickets and clever system. Yet far too often it is as if we are happy to do things the way we always have, without really stopping to think whether they work well.

Imagine a raffle where the prizes are limited to five, no-one is allowed to say no to a prize and the seller of the tickets personally asks each person in the room making eye-contact with them.

The application of such basic raffle science would revolutionise the quality of Liberal Democrat raffling , raising more money and making them more enjoyable.

The failure to exploit this double boost opportunity is not in itself exactly cataclysmic, but it is symptomatic of a wider problem – that of missing simple steps to improvement.

Take the example of the way Liberal Democrat events are frequently kept secret from anyone living the wrong side of one of our organisational boundaries. Of course, the people running the event do not deliberately set out to keep them secret… but such inappropriate secrecy cuts attendance, cuts fundraising and cuts membership engagement.

Courtesy of opportunities such as Facebook and email, it’s pretty darn easy to let people across a wide area know about your event. There’s no need to keep it secret from those outside your own party’s magic circle.

All the more so as in large urban areas in particular, the compact geography means people living just over the border – or living further way but working in the area – will often find it as easy, if not easier, to come to your event as to those events put on by their own local party.

Again some local parties do this extremely well – hats off in London to Southwark and Camden for example. But not all. So what is the reason for this secrecy? Is that secret take-over bids for neighbouring local parties are discussed from which outsiders must be excluded? Of course not.

Rather, it is often a matter of well-intentioned habits being repeated as hard-working volunteers pressed for time have not paused to question them. As a result, standards gradually slip over time and other new opportunities, especially those thrown up by technological developments, are passed up.

I certainly would not claim that any event I have organised has hit the magic perfection of getting everything maximised and right. But striving to improve each time brings benefits each time, however near or far that final destination may be. So next time you are involved in organising an event why not pick one thing to try to do better this time than last?

Just think of the extra raffle tickets that could be sold, not to mention the more prosaic benefits of giving more members and supporters the opportunities, for example, to hear and question Liberal Democrats talking about policies, beliefs and what we’re doing about Brexit.

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