In quick succession through the post we were sent three lots of raffle tickets which we had not asked for and yet we were expected to sell them to raise money for various charities. Now, to be fair, we do support those and other charities and make regular donations to them but, had they asked, they would have known that I am uncomfortable, to say the least, with selling raffle tickets.

Some years ago I would not have given raffles a second thought and happily bought a ticket at a church fête, say, with a chance of winning a prize cake or some such. Everyone knew that the object of the raffle was to raise money for a good cause and the chance of a prize was secondary. In fact it was not unusual for a prize winner to refuse the prize and another ticket be drawn for someone else instead. It was regarded as a bit of harmless fun and was largely concerned with people’s loose change in their pocket. And, to be fair, I have seen some fairly recent raffle draws that still reflect that more generous spirit.

However, a few years ago the rules changed and some raffles started to become cash prize lotteries and others got bigger or more expensive prizes. Mrs Jones’ famous Victoria sponge was displaced by a holiday for two on the Mediterranean, a new car or the like. The object of the exercise started to shift. Now people were buying tickets primarily to win one of the prizes with raising funds for a good cause being the sweetner. The two motives were the same but they had changed in emphasis. Previously people’s generosity was appealed to with an acknowledgement of human desire to win something. Now people’s greed is being appealed to and the virtue of generosity used as the wrapper so to speak. I think we have lost something when the love of money etc is being used as the incentive. Money is not evil but the love of money is said to be the root of all kinds of evil and I think it is true. Many of these raffles seem to play more on people’s love of money and luxuries than as an invitation to be generous. I think it is wrong to play on human weakness even in a good cause.

Raising money for a good cause is generally a good thing but I am not at all happy when the means is by appealing to human vice, that greed for money or expensive luxuries. I am not suggesting that they all fall into that trap; unfortunately, if you say yes to some raffles for charity it is hard not to say yes to them all. So if I want to support a charity I give a donation, write a letter or e-mail to support their cause, add them to the intercessions and so on. In this imperfect world I’m not campaigning to ban all raffles which aim to raise money for a good cause; but please don’t ask me to buy a raffle ticket and don’t ask me to  sell them.