by Anne DelBalzoSpring is in the air, and that means lots of schools, churches, andorganizations will be planning events. Whether they're hosting acarnival, an auction, or a dance, most of these places like to includeitems that can be raffled off to one of the attendees. That's a greatway for the group to raise money, especially if local businesses orindividuals donate items that can be turned into prizes.At my daughter's school, we organize a dance every spring, andbeforehand, we spend a lot of time soliciting donations and puttingtogether a great selection of prizes that are auctioned off during theparty. Usually, the most popular ones are the gift baskets!Since some local stores cannot afford to make large contributions, theyoften give us smaller items to include in our raffle. Then volunteerslike myself organize the items into pretty baskets, usually based arounda theme. For instance, we had a pair of sunglasses from a local PearleVision, a gift card from a deli, and a blanket from a home goods store.We added two plates and napkins and put these together as a “picnicbasket” for someone to win.The first year I was involved in this fundraiser, I thought it was verystressful to come up with ideas for the party itself, while at the sametime trying to promote the raffle so that we could earn money for ourschool. However, the gift baskets I put together were a huge hit, and Inever hesitate to recommend them to volunteers who are trying to raisemoney for a cause. People love winning prizes, and they especially lovewinning things that they can use and enjoy. In fact, I tend to thinkthat the chance to participate in an auction or giveaway brings morepeople to an event than would come if it were “just” music and dancing.The next time you end up on a fundraising committee, remember giftbaskets, and you'll be a success!