Know The Laws
Raffles are a powerful way to raise money for your organization, but it’s important you run things by the book. Charity raffles have specific federal and state regulatory requirements that govern their use, so be aware of what these are in your state before you launch your campaign.
*This article provides a brief overview of raffle regulation in the US. The organization benefitting from an online raffle is responsible for the raffle’s legal compliance. We strongly advise getting guidance from your legal counsel or state attorney general’s office if you’re not sure of the raffle regulations for your location.
What You Should Know
The federal government only allows registered 501(c)(3) organizations to run a charity raffle.
US Raffle Laws Vary By State
Local raffle laws are unique, and change often. We recommend checking our Raffle Laws page, or doing a Google search for specific raffle laws in your area.
US States that don't allow online charity raffles include:
What Makes a Sweepstakes Different From a Raffle?
What makes a sweepstakes different — and maybe better — than a raffle? There are some key differences between the two that make sweepstakes more flexible for some organizations.
Check out more key differences below.
First off, Sweepstakes are basically an easier form of Raffles since they are legal in all 50 states! This enables organizations to run charity drawings that can reach wide than raffle restrictions allow. However, sweepstakes don’t have to be huge events. They can work for any size fundraiser or nonprofit.
Offer Free Method of Entry
Sweepstakes must offer a free method of entry in addition to donation-based entries. This is typically a mail-in entry form for a chance to win.
With the Eventgroove Fundraising platform, we handle all of the mail-in entries for you! We keep a record, we enter them. All handled by us.
Specific Regulations for NY
There are specific regulations for the state of New York if the total prize value is over $5,000. Read more.
Online Entries Only
Sweepstakes do not allow any physical entries or paper tickets to be sold–only online entries are allowed. This will also protect your organization in case of a government audit. Of course, this also helps to ensure your campaign raises more funds: if participants were given a free option for sweepstakes entries in-person, they’d likely go with that choice instead of purchasing entries. This would have a direct impact on the amount raised by the organization, but online-only entries allow you to avoid this situation.
No Manual Drawings
Sweepstakes do not allow a manual drawing option, so winners must be chosen automatically by our system.
This is also a result of the mandatory free entry option. Free entries, while limited to one per person, are not just worth a single entry into a drawing. Instead, free entries receive the average number of entries donors have paid for to enter the drawing. Calculating this by hand would be too complex and would introduce the opportunity for human errors. For the sake of fairness and simplicity, Eventgroove Fundraising uses a certified random generator to first calculate the average number of paid entries and assign that number to each free entry. Then, it goes through the drawing process to select a winner.
We are happy to help you choose what type of fundraiser is best, and even help you set it up. However, we cannot provide legal advice, and strongly recommend speaking to a lawyer if you are unsure about the raffle regulations in your location.
Start Your Online Raffle Today
Does your organization check all the legal boxes for raffle laws? Create your account and launch your online raffle today, or request a demo below.
Try A Sweepstakes Campaign
If a Raffle doesn’t seem like a good fit, harness the flexibility and reach of a sweepstakes fundraiser.
Do you have a question about raffle laws that we didn’t answer? Comment below, or live chat with a customer support rep now!