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"Opportunity" (read that raffle quilt) Blues

This year, for my quilting guild, I have been chairman of our annual "Opportunity Quilt". This is a raffle quilt in plain English, but California forbids raffle ticket sales, so we call it a "donation" ticket. Taking over a year to make, it's a beautiful quilt, entitled "Emma's Courtyard", hand-appliqued, hand-quilted and designed by Jo Morton, a professional designer. She has even posted a photograph of it on her web site. We have permission from her to offer it as a fund raiser for our non-profit organization. The applique group enjoyed constructing it, but somehow the 150 or so members of the guild can barely help the 8 of us market it, even though all of the proceeds will go to the guild's general fund. It's next appearance is at the county fair in Red Bluff for four days and we can't fill shifts to sell the tickets. I'm really discouraged with their lack of interest. Does anyone else feel like they are going it alone on these guild projects? Sigh.

POST EDIT: Here's the Opportunity Quilt in question.

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Comment by Cat Lady--MO on September 19, 2010 at 3:53pm
Your story does sound familiar. I am/have been the current chair of our opportunity quilt this past year also. I have been asked by some of the members, if I will be chair for the next one, and I think when the leadership asks I just might say "been there, done that."
Comment by Carol Ann Hinton on September 19, 2010 at 1:36pm
Correction: Raffle drawing will be on December 6, 2010.
Comment by Carol Ann Hinton on September 19, 2010 at 1:25pm
Diane, raffle is December 13, 2010 at our Christmas dinner. Pillow goes with quilt. I also made an "incentive" quilt - not shown - from one of the center blocks and three additional borders (about 24x24) to be awarded to a guild member (by drawing on the same date) whose name is in a pool of those who worked on, or sold tickets at a public event, such as the fair. I don't know what else would motivate our members to help, but it's not happenin'.
Comment by Diane Gunter/Canada on September 19, 2010 at 11:37am
Carol the quilt is beautiful! Are they nuts not wanting to sell tickets for that? When is the raffle?
Comment by Sue S. / OR on September 19, 2010 at 11:07am
First of all, Carol, the quilt is absolutely stunning....it's very sad that people cannot appreciate true art and the amount of time/materials it takes to create a quilt. That being said, I too, have been soured from making a quilt as a fundraiser. The quilt was not advertised and went for little more than the fabric/batting cost me to begin with. This was a quilt for a grad night fundraiser for my son that graduated from high school in June. I have one more son that will graduate in 2012, but have told myself I will not make a quilt for that grad night fundraiser. We as quilters get very attached and emotionally involved in our quilts and then to have them disregarded by people willing to pay so little for them, cuts us deeply....at least that is how I felt about my experience. Oh, by the way, a load (1 yard) of gravel brought in more than my quilt! Very sad! I think I will stick to making quilts as gifts for people that truly appreciate them.
Comment by Carol Ann Hinton on September 19, 2010 at 9:14am
I agree about the recession being part of slow sales of tickets; we are selling $1.00 single tickets when we used to sell blocks 10 for $5.00, but that doesn't explain why the beneficiaries of the fund-raiser are so reluctant to spend a little time working on it. BTW, I would never attempt to sell quilts. It would break my heart not to recover my costs, much less be paid for the time involved! Besides, I get too attached to them, and will only give them to people I love who appreciate the art and time involved.
When I find my digital photo, I will post it for you all to see.
Comment by Joana Simmers/GA on September 19, 2010 at 8:07am
My guild doesn't do raffle/opportunity quilts b/c of religious objections on the part of some members and possibly from one of the churches where we meet. At last year's quilt show, we had the group's fundraiser quilt and a donated quilt for sale in the quilt show "store." Neither sold. Few people in the economy here can or will come up with the money to buy a quilt out right. Part of the problem lies in marketing--for some reason I haven't figured out yet, there seems to be an adversarial relationship with the local newspaper. I've done publicity for community groups for many years, and most small-town papers will fall all over themselves to print pictures/stories/etc IF you give them camera ready material so that they can just insert it and go. That's much easier with digital photographs and printing. Often you don't even have to go to the office, unless you are just trying to build good will, a good idea. Maybe your local paper and/or television station would do a story on the quilt and your guild. That might generate some additional enthusiasm since we all like to see ourselves in the paper--well, on the community page any way.
Comment by Cheryl / NC on September 19, 2010 at 7:40am
Sadly, been there done that! I was guild president for 4 years because nobody else wanted the job. In those 4 years I busted my butt! "We" (me and the mouse in my pocket, I sometimes thought) put on 2 large quilt shows. It was like pulling teeth to get help doing ANYTHING until it came to the fun part, setting up the quilts! After listening to some nasty comments after the second show, about how so-an-so (who did NOTHING to help!) could have done this or that better, or cheaper, or whatever, I washed my hands of the whole thing and said "then So-an-so can have all this paperwork, the call list, the calendar, ...and she can do it next year! I'm going back to my sewing machine." That was my last guild meeting. They didn't put on another show for 5 years after I left, I don't think they could get anyone to do it! I've also donated a quilt to the church to be raffled or auctioned off for the building fund. I even printed the tickets myself to save the church the cost, I hoped it would net the building fund about $2500. I cried when the first one, which cost me $200 to make, and $125 to have it professionally machine quilted, brought only $125, what it cost to have it quilted! When I was asked to do it again the following year, I told them no, instead I gave them a $200 donation. I figured they made out better on it. It was sad for me. But I've learned, and now I just give my quilts to those I love and who I know will appreciate them. Good luck with your fair, I'd come work a few shifts for you if I could. If you post a picture on here, and let people e-mail you, I know some of the girls on here have good luck selling tickets that way. Good Luck!
Comment by Janet/MO on September 19, 2010 at 6:59am
Carol Ann, I sympathize too. I used to live in Las Vegas and NV has the same rules as far as raffle quilts so we too would call them opportunity quilts. Two yrs ago I was in charge of making one for a new guild. First of all, I designed 3 different types of quilts and had the members vote on their favorite at a quilt meeting. It was made up of Split 9 Patch blocks, plus had applique' in the borders. Then I asked everyone to make 1 or 2 blocks and we ended up with enough to make a queen size quilt with 2 pillows and a nice size wallhanging. The guild had approximately 35 members at that time. I then did a drawing for the left over blocks (no matter how much you hope they will all work, you will have some that were not made right) & those were given to a member of the guild. What I also did was asked for donations of prizes such as patterns or books & told them that they each had a chance to win something if they sold tickets. The first prize was an iron I got from one of the casinos after earning enough "points" from playing. Plus I flat out told everyone that I expected them to sell at least 10 tickets. I only had 2 people say they wouldn't do that and I think it was more out of laziness than religous reasons. We displayed this quilt at various quilt stores and events. Rather than wait for someone to volunteer, I actually went up to people and asked. I find it is more difficult for them to refuse if you do that. Anyway, we raised $2800.00 in 4 months.

I do agree with what some of the other ladies have said about just not being available to do another one in the future and I would be very forthright with the reason why. It won't motivate everyone, but it might just wake up a few more about what it takes to raise enough money to run an organization properly. Good luck.
Comment by Carol Ann Hinton on September 19, 2010 at 6:50am
Yes! The Little Red Hen story has occurred to me. (It was a loaf of bread.) Our guild takes a year to market the quilt, and we are budgeted to make $3,000 on it this year. (This is the amount set out as annual income from this project by the Budget Committee.) The winning ticket is drawn at the end of the year. Members are expected to sell tickets themselves, as well as support it by helping in the public venues where it is shown. I'm feeling that just a few of us have been holding up that end, although everyone ooooh'd and aaaaah'd when we first showed the finished quilt to them. Perhaps this type of fund-raiser has outlived it's time.

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