Category Archives: Fundraising Raffles

Why Your Nonprofit’s Next Fundraising Auction Should Set Earnings Records

boxesCorporate giving is up, according to the 2012 Giving in Numbers report from the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy.

It’s up across the board, to the tune of 42% or $4.48 billion between 2007 and 2012. That’s good when you want straight cash. But it’s even better when you want a non-cash contribution from a business, such asĀ  a gift basket, hotel stay, case of wine, or other tempting item for your next charity auction.

Non-cash corporate contributions accounted for 69% of the 2012 corporate giving totals, up from 57% in 2007. We seem to be at a curious point in the U.S.’s economic recovery: Business profits are up just enough that owners feel comfortable increasing their donations to charity — but with sales on the sluggish side, they’re still ending up with excess inventory, which can go toward a nonprofit in need.

Of course, need alone isn’t enough to convince a business to hand over its goods. The savvy nonprofit will make professional requests that stress the attractive manner in which potential auction items will be displayed as well as how the corporate donor will be recognized.

For more on how to hold a great auction, see the article, “Twelve Steps to Preparing a Successful Fundraising Auction.” And while we’re talking about auctions, make sure your nonprofit isn’t making the common mistake of giving bidders an exaggerated idea of how high a tax deduction they’ll receive, as discussed in, “Is Your Nonprofit Overpromising Tax Deductions?

At What Point It’s Worth Registering Your California Raffle

1000 House FrontRemember my recent blog about how California’s weird raffle laws require either that your nonprofit register its raffle and comply with a bunch of rules, or give away tickets for free?

The perfect example of when it’s NOT worth giving your raffle tickets away has come along: It’s the fifth annual “Dream House Raffle,” a benefit for the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, which is indeed a 501(c)(3) charity.

The first prize (among many) is either a house in San Francisco (and a nice one, by the look of it) or $4 million dollars in cash. Nope, they won’t be giving any of these tickets away. They’ll cost you $150 a pop.

This is pretty much the opposite of a grassroots raffle. Riding on BART today, I saw ad signs for it lining the walls by the train tracks. The mail just brought me a four-page glossy brochure with details on entry and prizes. (It’s hard not to look . . . and to wonder, “If I won a vacation, would I take it or the $5,000 cash?”)

But sometimes, you’ve got to plan big in order to get big returns. They assure us that no more than 90,000 tickets will be sold — but that with all the smaller prizes, the odds of winning are actually 1 in 50. Better get shopping!

Nonprofits Running Raffles in California Face Weirder-Than-Average Laws

starI was listening to one of my local public radio stations recently, and heard an announcement for a raffle — accompanied by an assurance that I need not donate to win. Huh? That sounds like a lousy way to raise money. Doesn’t a raffle ordinarily mean that you and others buy tickets, and the collective amount raised not only covers the valuable prize in question, but results in a profit to whoever runs the raffle?

Then I remembered: California law contains some unusual provisions governing raffles. In essence, they’re illegal unless run by a nonprofit, and even if they are run by a nonprofit, the organization must either:

  • register the raffle with the state and comply with a bunch of difficult provisions, such as not conducting the raffle over the Internet, arranging for supervision by an adult, and ensuring that 90% of the gross receipts go toward benefiting or supporting beneficial or charitable purposes, or else
  • offer tickets for free.

No wonder said radio station decided on the latter approach — though I bet they’re hoping not many people take them up on it. If your nonprofit is in California and thinking of running a raffle, you can find more information on the “Raffles” page of the state’s website.

If your nonprofit is in some other state, this particular rule probably does not apply — but others will, if raffles are legal there at all. Check for a similar source of information from your state or consult an attorney well-versed in nonprofit law.