Every year in July, the North Idaho College Foundation holds its largest fundraiser. Only 5,000 tickets are sold for the Really BIG Raffle, at $100 apiece. The grand prize is a $250,000 home built by, and as a showcase for, the college’s carpentry program. Other prizes include a $20,000 car, a $10,000 boat, a $3,500 vacation and a $2,000 shopping spree.
In addition to supporting the carpentry program, the raffle, now in its 18th year, has raised money for scholarships and provided grants for numerous college programs as varied as athletics, human resources and nursing. This year’s drawing will be held July 13.
Rayelle Anderson, the foundation’s executive director, chatted about the raffle.
Q: So how does the raffle work?
A: So let’s say we sell all 5,000 (tickets) – we bring in $500,000 in gross revenue. We utilize those dollars to pay for the major prizes. The house and the lot cost, approximately, between $230,000 and $250,000. In addition, we take some of the revenue and buy early-bird and promotional prizes to get people to buy tickets throughout the year. And some dollars go to our marketing and promotion. In addition, $50,000 to $55,000 is taken … and goes to a foundation grant program. In the last 17 years, part of the proceeds has gone back to fund 197 grants totaling $879,000.
Q: How much has the raffle raised in its history?
A: Total gross revenues have been $7.35 million. That’s a lot of money. That says why the magic happens from this region. The net proceeds are $2.8 million. We’re hoping to break that and hit the $3 million mark with this year’s raffle.
Q: Do you know if the people who have won the house over the years live in the houses?
A: Yes. We have a handful of people who have won it and live in it. Many people have sold the home. But we always have a list of people who are interested in buying it if the winner doesn’t want it, because people come through the home and really fall in love with it.
Q: What has changed about the homes over the years?
A: We used to be able to afford to buy very large lots that required a lot of dirt work. Well, the price of land is more expensive. So we have become more efficient at buying a lot in a desirable neighborhood that is appealing to all and is cost-effective for us to be able to buy the land, build the house and do it in a reasonable budget. The homes the last eight years have been in Greenstone Homes neighborhoods. That building partner has worked with us on these lots.
Q: Do you have a personal favorite story?
A: I do. Terry and Ina Bressler won the home; they’re local folks. Terry and Ina had two children and both of those children are alums of North Idaho College. That to me embodies what this raffle is about. I remember Terry and Ina saying, “This is our dream home. We will be moving into this home.” It changes people’s lives. It definitely inspires us to continue to make this fundraiser a success.