Chuck, It does look as though using data merge is the best way, but rather than generating the numbers in Excel here is an improved number generator script to create indesign number and counterfoil numbering data merge files. We recently had to print 500 numbered tickets 8 up on 8.5 x 11. When we took it back to Bindery they would have had to hand collate the tickets back in order after the cut.
Getting Word to put a unique number on each raffle ticket is easy enough, but persuading Word to print out several uniquely-numbered raffle tickets per sheet of paper is very hard (I think it is impossible, actually. At least I couldn't figure it out. UPDATE: I did figure it out. Instructions for printing raffle tickets using Microsoft Word are here.). And you don't really want to have every raffle ticket use up a whole sheet of paper.
We run a big annual event, and have tried these tickets two years in a row. Same major defect for over a year - they put a product sticker on the outside of the roll, and the glue from the sticker seeps into the tickets and glues them together. We have had this happen on several rolls over multiple orders of fresh tickets, and it is not an isolated incident. You end up using about the first third of the roll, and then have to throw the rest away.
We use the auto page numbering trick here, the trick is to do it as spreads. You just make your pages the same size as the ticket with crops and bleeds. Then set up the shell on the master page and place your auto page number where you want your numbers. Each pages is the next number. You can also have two sets of numbers for perforated ticket. You then can use the page start options to add to the numbers and keep the same number of total numbers. For example you would do a new page start after number 99. 0001 to 0099 so it doesn't add two "0's" to the front of 100 and you get 00100 when you want 0100. Works great for small quantities, we have done up to 1000+ tickets and once you do it once or twice it is a snap to set up. To avoid having to do 1000 pages just send the tickets in groups. Usually between 25 to 100 at a time works good depending on artwork file size. Just save each time before sending to printer and name the file with what the tickets are. Like "MyTickets-0001-0100.Indd". Makes it easier to go back if you have a problem. You can even do two rolls of tickets if your using 12 x 18 sheets by flipping the sheet and doing one row along the top and one along the bottom on reverse side. That is if your ticket is single Sided. Two sided tickets are a bit trickier. :-)
I think the conclusion of all these Rube Goldberg approaches is that InDesign still isn’t ready for handling what is really a head-smacking-stupid-simple kind of numbering job — the kind of jobs computers were created for in the first place. My DOS word processor XyWrite — from AD 1987! — could do numbering stuff like this in no time and with no trouble. Quite ridiculous, really, when you consider the staggering graphics and typography capabilities inside InDesign — but the poor thing cannot really count.
In trying to produce 300 tickets, I can get all of the first numbered position to be sequential over 100 pages. But, when moving down to the second or third ticket position on the page and setting up the numbering, I repeatedly find that I get a repeat of the first 100 numbers. I am lost as to how to proceed. Is there any other missing step or info that I am assumed to have knowledge about that was not mentioned above? If you know of some other site that might explain this process any better, please post.
The tickets, all 2,000 of them, are printed on relatively good stock and are double-sided. They're perforated and when I'm selling tickets I don't have to struggle with separating them nor do I have any tearing disasters. I did shop around and at the time I purchased this was the best price I could find. They arrived promptly and hopefully we'll use so many of them raising money for our projects I'll have to order them again.
Your neighborhood businesses. These people are normally eager to participate in such activities and approaching them will not be in vain as this is a good venue for selling many raffle tickets. Exercise caution when dealing with high traffic business as they are likely not be responsible for the tickets and the money due to the nature of their businesses. It will be prudent to have one member of the group checking by every day to collect the money.
Now for the slightly hard bit. If you just try and complete your merge now, you'll get several pages of tickets. Each page will have four tickets on it. But all tickets on any page will have the same number. Each page will have a different number, but all the tickets on that page will have the same number. That's no good. You need each ticket to have a different number.