Rainbow Café’s Queen of Hearts raffle jackpot grows

The progressive raffle could continue into 2024.

By Dr. Sandy Pensoneau-Conway, RC News

CARBONDALE – The Rainbow Café LGBTQ Center’s newest fundraiser, the Queen of Hearts raffle, certainly is FUN! Based on a set of playing cards (52 cards + 2 jokers) and a progressive jackpot, the raffle has the potential to continue well into 2024.

Here’s how it works:

Each of the 54 playing cards is randomly placed into individual envelopes. Throughout the week, people can purchase tickets for $1 each, and when they enter their tickets, they indicate what envelope number they want to be opened, if their ticket is pulled.

Every Tuesday at 7 p.m., the Café draws a ticket and opens the envelope on the ticket. (For example, Elizabeth Mackenbach’s ticket was pulled at the first raffle on Aug. 1, and she wrote down ticket #46.) If the envelope reveals the Queen of Hearts, then whoever had their ticket pulled that week wins 50% of the current jackpot. Any card other than the Queen of Hearts means the raffle continues to the next week, and the jackpot continues to increase.

If a joker is pulled, the raffle still continues, but the ticket holder for that week gets $50. If it’s anything other than the Queen of Hearts or a Joker, then the ticket holder for that week gets a Rainbow Café t-shirt (while supplies last). If a pulled ticket indicates an envelope number we’ve already opened, then we’ll open the next available envelope, higher than the number on the ticket.

Any ticket purchased is good for the raffles happening during the month of the purchase. For example, a ticket purchased anytime in September is good for all of September’s raffles. At the end of each month, we discard current tickets and start over with ticket sales, though the jackpot remains.

Queen of Hearts raffles are growing in popularity for non-profit organizations, in part because they are relatively easy to administer, they allow people to participate for a longer period of time (given that they can last more than a year), and the jackpot has the potential to grow with a significant payout.

The state of Illinois says that the maximum amount of money someone can win from a raffle is $ 250,000, and the Rainbow Café has been watching other Queen of Hearts raffles—winning that much is not unheard of. A higher jackpot is good for Rainbow Cafe and is good for whoever may win.

The ticket price is kept low (only $1) so that anyone who is eligible (meaning 18 years old or older) can play. The raffle pulls are also livestreamed, so you can tune into the Rainbow Café Facebook page each Tuesday at 7 p.m. This also means that you don’t have to be present, or even live in the U.S., to participate. Any proceeds Rainbow Café makes from the Queen of Hearts will go towards general operating expenses. Click here to purchase tickets online, or purchase them at any of our upcoming events (as long as Queen of Hearts hasn’t been found). As of Aug. 20, the jackpot was $699. If you have any questions, contact Sandy at fundraising@rainbowcafe.org.

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