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Madness Makes Money

About 200 people attended last year's "Hudson Madness," a raffle fundraiser for Hudson (Ohio) High School, which raises about $10,000 each year.

March Madness is one of the most popular sporting events in the country. So when Hudson (Ohio) High School needed to raise money for a new football stadium last year, a group of community members decided to piggyback on the basketball tournament's popularity to spice up a traditional raffle. Thus, "Hudson Madness" was born.

The event takes place at a local country club a few weeks before the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball tournament begins and consists of a band, food, and raffle prizes. Admission to the event is free, with 64 attendees who give $250 getting the chance to win $5,000 in the "Big Madness Bracket."

Those 64 contestants have their names randomly drawn from a hat and placed in a spot on the board corresponding to a seed--the first name would get the West region's 16th seed, for example--and the contestant who gets the seed corresponding to the team that wins the tournament receives the money. "Sure, there's the risk that you'd draw a low-seeded team, but people don't mind too much," says Thomas Murphy, who helped organize the event. "It adds a bit of fun to the raffle."

In addition to the bracket, there are five-dollar raffle tickets available for various items, including a spa package, drinks and dinner at various local restaurants, rounds of golf at a local country club, and tickets to see the Browns take on the Steelers. All the items are donated by community members or local businesses, keeping costs low.

The country club not only provided the locale, but also staffed the event free of charge (the club did receive the money from the cash bar). "Other than sending out e-mails promoting the event, our only tasks last year were getting the appetizers and finding a band," he says. "We didn't set up many decorations, but we had a band because we wanted to create a party-like atmosphere, and I think we did."

The costs for the event were minimal--$500 for the band and $1,000 for the appetizers--and after the Big Madness winner got their check for $5,000, the school was left with about $10,000. Murphy promoted the event through e-mail blasts and radio and newspaper ads, and says the ease of the event was critical. "The country club made everything easier," he says. "Having that in place kept our costs, and workload, down. We're hoping to have similar success with this year's event."


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