HOW TO: swap-raffle

Yesterday, I had a great “Everyday Sustainable” day, with two swap events.  The first was a clothes swap which I organize every few months with friends.  And the second happened at a meeting for members of 29Gifts, a global network of people doing a daily practice around giving. 

Before we headed outside to give away 100 roses to folks walking by — spreading the word of this practice of giving, by doing it! — we held a Swap-Raffle.

Swap-Raffle is a term I just made up.  It’s the best way I can explain this kind of swap, which ensures that only people who are interested in a particular item have the possibility of winning it.  Brilliant.  This prevents that experience a lot of us can relate with: winning something we don’t want, and then thinking, “Now what am I going to do with this ______?”


  • Materials needed: Paper lunch bags (envelopes or small boxes would work, too), small paper (we used index cards) cut into small pieces–big enough to write a name, and pens.
  • People attending the event are encouraged to bring things that they’d like to donate to the group raffle.  Could be new, used, tangible, intangible.  We had 40-50 items, including a harmonica, lots of books, photo albums, a hand-made scarf, free professional services like massages, a lollipop, and a head tingler.
  • We lined the things along a wall, wrote the name of the thing on a paper lunch bag, then opened the bag and placed it behind the thing.
  • People then “shopped” and placed slips of paper with their name on it, in the bags of the things they wanted.  This way, only people interested in that thing were entered in the raffle for it.
  • Each item’s winner was picked from the bag associated with it.
  • Items that didn’t have any “bidders” were raffled from a combining of all the non-winning bigs. 

What I really liked about the Swap-Raffle:

  • It was an efficient and fun way to do a swap when it wasn’t the main event (compared to my clothes swap), and with a diverse group of people, most of whom had never met each other before. 
  • It ensured that things were matched with grateful recipients. 
  • As with all swaps, it’s a way of building community, in the activity of shopping around, and also when receivers get to meet givers, and vice versa.
  • Whether the object or offering were used or new, there was less likelihood of waste.  Which as you know is an important aspect of Everyday Sustainable.
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2 Responses to HOW TO: swap-raffle

  1. E.Lee says:

    Wako, I loved your raffle! It’s a wonderful way to have objects get a new life, and move on, and be appreciated in the future. You certainly got it right, and lightened up the event. There was play there, a game. It’s a great ice-breaker and helps people to connect. It also bumps up everyone’s appreciation and gratitude.

    It’s also a surprise to see who won. And when I won! I was so thrilled. This abundance is amazing.


  2. breezeatdawn says:

    Great idea! Reminds of something I read about a few years ago – an Abundance Swap. That one was much like a community garage sale. You bring everything you’d like to give away and set it up but without prices. Others do the same and you all “shop” or swap, I should say, each others things.
    Go green!

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