It’s time to give away free cars again! The idea of car raffles for charity isn’t a new one, but it does seem to be gaining horsepower locally.
Gladhander, the Grand Traverse Area Catholic Schools’ (GTACS) annual fundraiser, organizes one of the oldest raffles in town. Since 1987, the school system has held an annual raffle that raises money to fund student tuition, retain qualified teachers, and upgrade school facilities.
According to Gladhander Coordinator Kathy Britten, the auto raffle has remained popular because of its long history, and as well as its cause.
“The raffle and auction are successful because we have a community that understands that our schools are an important regional community asset, “ says Britten.
This year’s Gladhander raffle winner will choose between a 2014 BMW XI from Fox Motors, a 2014 Cadillac ATS from Cherry Capital Cadillac, or a $32,000 cash prize. Britten says local auto dealerships step-up their generosity in support of the raffle. The cash prize option started in 2001; the winner has only chosen the car once since then.
Tickets are on sale for $125 or 2 for $200, and the winner will be announced at the annual Gladhander event on October 26.
In another upcoming raffle, Michigan’s March of Dimes—a nonprofit that supports pregnancy and baby health—will draw the winner of its first annual statewide Great American Muscle Car Raffle. The drawing will take place on November 23 at Cherry Capital Cadillac.
Traverse City native Jeff Stolowski, a former March of Dimes volunteer, donated his canary yellow Oldsmobile Rallye 350 for this year’s raffle. If the event returns next year, he plans to donate a 1970 Indy 500 Pace Car.
March of Dimes Division Director Gina Schulz tells The Ticker the organization has already sold more $27,000 in tickets at $10 each.
“That’s a huge amount of money, and we can make a huge difference,” Schulz says.
But raffle organizers do face some challenges. Schulz explains that organizations must apply for a raffle license through the state of Michigan, and must understand the legalities and finances of such a campaign.
The March of Dimes raffle, for instance, wouldn’t have been possible without the generous donation by Stolowski and his wife, which allows for 100 percent of proceeds to fund the organization.
Bob Sutherland, who organized Cherry Republic’s car raffle last summer to support the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail, agrees that there are challenges, but see the benefits outweighing the hassles.
In his case, Cherry Republic purchased the new Chevy Volt at a substantial discount, but the car cost, raffle tickets, signage, and marketing quickly added up.
“I think it worked well to match the campaign with a business that sells. Cherry Republic's retail store and bookkeeping offices could handle a lot of the sales and management.”
Overall, Sutherland saw lots of benefits.
“We created many new active members of the campaign and really raised awareness for the trail. And Cherry Republic ended up getting some great philanthropic exposure for the raffle. It wasn't even on our radar as we were planning; we just wanted to raise money. But it was nice to wrap ourselves so tightly with another great cause.”