Tombola Stall or ‘Lucky Jar’ for your next fundraising event?

In some languages, the word Tombola roughly translates to ‘raffle’, so if you’re not familiar with a Tombola stall, that should give you a good indication of where we’re going with this one. However, it’s not your typical raffle where there are only one or two winners. Some would even say it’s better because, generally, every ticket wins a prize.

Tombola stalls, sometimes known as the ‘Lucky Jar’, can provide you with big profits and often for very little outlay. They can even be a drawcard for your next fundraising event (which doesn’t have to be a fete) because they can be run in conjunction with most fundraising events where you will have a crowd on hand.

But let’s start at the beginning

The idea is very simple: prizes are donated. Raffle tickets are split, with one half being stuck to a prize and the other half going into a barrel. Punters purchase their tickets (at your nominated price) which could be $1 per ticket, $2 per ticket, 3 for $5. It’s really up to you and the quality of your prizes. Their tickets are then drawn from the barrel and if they match a prize, that’s what they win.

Now I can hear you thinking “how on earth am I going to be able to source that many quality prizes?”. The answer is, you don’t have to! Not all of your prizes need to be ‘fabulous’. It definitely pays to have some big-ticket prizes, but the options to fill your Tombola stall are endless and the beauty of this is that it makes asking for donations so simple because your supporters don’t have to go to too much trouble to find something appropriate. Often families are asked to bring in filled Tombola prizes, and some schools use zip lock bags for simplicity 🙂

Here are just a few ideas:

  • hampers
  • gift cards
  • bottles of wine
  • boxes of chocolates
  • stationery
  • baked goods / homemade jams
  • craft packs
  • soft toys
  • games
  • gardening items
  • jewellery (the cheap stuff AND the expensive stuff if you can get it)
  • cosmetics
  • hair clips and ribbons
  • tools
  • books
  • lego
  • bags lollies or chocolates
  • photo frames
  • pet items
  • ‘Try Again’ ticket!
  • Voucher for a ride or sideshow game
  • A dare
  • even canned items or a wooden spoon which can play the role of ‘booby prize’

The draw of the Tombola stall is that your winner receives their prize immediately. No pre-purchasing of tickets, no waiting around for raffles to be drawn. They just pay up and ‘bam’, there’s the prize … or not, if you want to be a little trickier about it or if you have fewer prizes. Not every ticket has to be a winner (you can have lollipops or something similar as your consolation prize) and if your tickets are priced well, your punters won’t mind if the risk is increased.  Here are some other ideas along these same lines just in case you can’t find a barrel or just want to be a little different.


Rather than just sticking to plain old tickets in a barrel, we’ve got some alternatives for you 🙂 In these ideas, the concept of matching the numbers to get your prize stays the same but means of getting your number is … a little different.

  • Lucky Straws: Instead of the ticket stub going into a barrel, it’s rolled up and stuck in a straw. The straw stands upright in a bucket or tray of sand and instead of choosing tickets from a barrel, punters can choose their straw. While we’re talking about sand …
  • Bottle Cap Tombola: Buy packets of plain bottle caps (used for home brewing), number them and drop them into a bucket or tray of sand where people can sift through the sand to find their winning pick.
  • Ping Pong Tombola: Get a whole lot of ping pong balls and write the prize ticket numbers on them. Throw them in a box, bucket, barrel or whatever you can find that will fit them all. Punters dig in and choose their ball to win.
  • Fortune Cookie Tombola: Great for a big event (such as a dinner) and if you can afford the outlay. Have the matching tickets numbers placed inside the cookies or you could even just have tickets that say ‘you’re a winner’ or ‘better luck next time’. People purchase the cookies and even if they don’t win a prize, they still get to eat the cookie!

Mandy Weidmann is Australia’s ‘Fundraising Whisperer’ – publisher of the Fundraising Directory and author of the Practical Fundraising Handbook for School and Club Volunteers. Mandy believes that parent volunteers shouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel all the time and is passionate about providing resources to make fundraising easier (and more fun).

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