This is something I wrote after a particularly long conclave raffle, I'm posting it here in case you're looking for some conclave raffle donation guidance.

Date: Tue, 6 Jun 2000 11:17:23 -0400
From: Chris Knight 
Subject: Conclave Raffles: A Brief Dissertation

A brief dissertation on conclave raffles, as both a follow up to Lake
Placid Clave 2000 and NEC VII and a precursor to NEC VIII. Please
bear with me as I ramble on.

When we started doing these raffle things 7 years ago, the idea was
fresh and interesting: here are these folks from all these various
places, why not have them bring something inexpensive but with a
completely local (to your home) flavor so that we learn something
about them and have a good time?  A local t-shirt or hat, a local
beer or wine or syrup, something homemade, something goofy, you get
the idea. Your raffle prize was to represent you and/or where you
came from. It was a simple affair, where the donor was recognized,
there was time to launch jokes back and forth and make small speeches
before the items were raffled, a true community affair.

A few years later these conclave raffles had transformed into a whole
'nuther beast entirely. Increased conclave attendance without
adequate passing along of the history led to massive affairs
involving hundreds of items. And boy did they get time consuming. At
a few TN Claves and NECs the raffles took so long that by the end no
one cared and few felt particularly rewarded by the experience. The
rafflemeisters were exhausted, and the events were just sorta

About that time another thing happened: the price barrier collapsed,
along with the strictures of local flavor. Some folks were donating
really nice items, items that in some cases were worth several
hundred $$. Others were still following the Old Way of donating
something small, inexpensive, occasionally goofy, and local. This
leaves some folks feeling a bit like e.g. "I donated a $85 book and
all I got was this lousy corn relish from Syracuse."  Many of you now
know that feeling after NEC, I'm sure, because there was some
seriously nice stuff donated there.

The price disparity and overflow of gift donations causes raffle
discord. I think it's truly wonderful that we have so many thoughtful
folks who care enough to contribute valuable items and I know the
intention is purely good. But when some folks walk away grumbling,
when the affair takes so long that folks get bored, the raffle has
not accomplished what it was designed to do. It was designed to
represent a formerly-faceless person or place and act as a warm-up
for an evening of getting to know old friends just met.

              I think maybe it's time to rein it all in and return to
those roots. I hope I can convince other clavemeisters to follow suit
next year, but that is entirely up to them. For the record, here's a
draft (open to refinements) of how it will be at any future Lake
Placid Clave/NEC that I take charge of.

In the short term, this applies to NECVIII which will be held in Lake
Placid next spring, 01-03 June 2001:

(1) The item you donate should be either homemade or purchased
locally to your area. It should reflect something about you or your
region. Artwork that you do yourself is always special, as are flies,
homemade tools, wines, beers, syrups, canned goods, bacculated
lanyards, etc. All of you have a talent, however insignificant you
think it is, and if you share that talent with us in a raffle gift
you have added a bit of your soul to the proceedings.

(2) If you purchase (as opposed to make) your gift it should be
cheap, say $20 or less. $100 coffee table books, while reflecting
true generosity, will not be put in the general raffle unless you
swear up and down on your grandmother's Dutch oven that you got it at
a tremendous discount or it didn't cost you anything. But even then,
that coffee table book should have something to do with you or your

(3)  There really ought to be some humor value, something silly or
charming, something we can exploit during the raffle presentation. Of
course that's unenforceable, but as a general guide think along these
lines: if you have a choice between a nice plastic whOrvis fly box or
a t-shirt that says 'Vermont is for Fish Killers" that has a scanned
photo of Bill Barnard nibbling on fish heads, go for the t-shirt.  8^)

(4) Ideally, there should be one gift donated per person. A few
extras are nice in case someone forgets to bring something, but
that's usually not a problem. What we want to avoid is having to
unload a surplus. The principle is bring something, get something.
Keep it simple.

(5) Outside donations are of course welcome, but they should be given
proper attention and respect. That means if someone from e.g.
Colorado takes the trouble to donate something special to a raffle in
Lake Placid, whoever wins that item had better acknowledge it in a
trip report. If the event isn't significant enough to write about,
then the spirit is gone.

Anyway, those are my thoughts.  I just think it's time for sanity and
a little bit of soul to prevail. Let's not take for granted this
unusual spectacle of bringing folks together from far-flung places,
this magical thing we call Conclaving.

Thanks for your patience,

Chris Knight
Syracuse NY