So Many Rewards, So Little Organization: The Clarion Write-A-Thon Raffle Help Request!

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 15.678% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

So starting Friday, I’m blogging for the Clarion Write-A-Thon.  And I’ve got a problem I’m hoping maybe one of you can help with.
Because I was pretty sure that I couldn’t put in my usual herculean effort this year, I asked a bunch of my writer-pals to help me out by donating stuff.  And in many cases, they gave me what you’d expect – signed books and posters!  Which is wonderful.  Anyone can get a signed book, and even if it’s not the author of your choice, well, you’ve still got a book to read.
Four authors, however, have donated unique gifts.  A hand-written letter to you from the lead character of their series.  A hand-written postcard to you from a famous author.  A medal of bravery from the government of the series he’s writing in.  And a free medical consultation from a certified nurse for the story of your choice, explaining in great detail all of the things you got wrong.
Those are cool items, but they’re unique.  And if you don’t want them, you might find them useless.  So a pure raffle isn’t going to work well at getting these items in the hands of the people who’d most appreciate them.
The simple solution is to have a per-author raffle – Donate $5 for Author X, and you can win that specific prize!  But that seems dickish.  There’s a lot of strapped people for whom $5 is a lot of money, and I don’t want to make this into a cash war.  Plus, going back week after week to say, “Here’s another fabulous prize!  GIVE ME MORE MONEY NOW!” will just engender feelings that I’m an adbot.  Ick.
Conversely, an auction might raise more funds – but again, it sort of leaves the cash-strapped on the sidelines, which sucks.  Somewhere, there’s a huge fan of Author X who’s going to be thrilled to get this thing, and I want some random element that rewards people who donate more, but doesn’t obliterate the chances of the Ramen-noodle-eatin’ folk who are donating to their limit.
To make things even more complicated, there’s already a donation prize of joining the Clarion Echo Secret Society if you donate $10, and $25 gets you a short story critique from a Nebula award-nominated schmuck.  So some people are already getting schwag.
So is there a solution?  How can I efficiently distribute these Very Special Prizes so they have a chance of finding a good home?  I’m open to all ideas, even if they make it a bureaucratic nightmare for me.

1 Comment

  1. Nick
    Jun 21, 2012

    Here is an idea.
    create 5 prize pools, one for all of the “Generically Awesome Swag”, and one for each of the Author specific items.
    Give everyone 1 entry per $ donated. If they don’t specify a division of their entries, put them all into the “Generically Awesome Swag” Pool.
    then, if people have a desire for a specific item, they can allocate some or all of their entries to that pool. You can track all of the donators, and the seperate Prize pools, using a Spreadsheet (maybe with some cool macros!) . Then determine the winners using a random number generation device of your choice. I would be happy to help set up or maintain the spreadsheet.
    I donated $25 to your Blog-a-thon ,
    Please divide my entries as follows
    10 – Postcard
    10- Letter
    5 – Generically Awesome Swag
    one of your legion of adoring fans

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