Many nonprofit groups around the U.S. use raffles to raise funds for projects or special events. Florida, like most states, has strict rules about conducting raffles which fall under the state's gaming laws. Only charitable, nonprofit organizations with current tax exemption status from the Internal Revenue Service can hold raffles in Florida. The government also imposes strict rules on the way the raffles are advertised and conducted.
Hold a meeting with the members of the organizing committee of your nonprofit organization. Determine how much money the organization needs to raise through the raffle. In Florida you cannot legally require people to make donations or buy raffle tickets. You can make suggested donations and you can also limit the number of tickets that each entrant can buy. Agree on a reasonable sum of money for suggested donations. Keep the donation amount low to encourage people to participate. Some people may donate more than the suggested amount. Divide the amount of money you need to raise into the suggested ticket donation amount. The resulting figure is the number of tickets you need to distribute to fully participating donors to hit your goal. Ask members and local business owners to donate prizes. You can buy prizes from existing group funds but do not buy expensive prizes as doing so offsets the benefit of having the raffle. Try to choose prizes that have unisex appeal.
Buy a book of raffle tickets from a stationery store. The books contain numbered tickets which makes it easy to track the number of tickets you distribute. If you cannot find a raffle ticket you can create your own using a word processing program on your PC. Make sure each ticket has two identically numbered portions, one for you and one for the entrant. On all of the tickets you issue, you must first write or print information about the nature of the raffle. Every ticket must feature the name of your organization, the principal business address and a statement explaining that entrants do not have to buy tickets or make donations. You must also list the time, place and venue of the drawing and explain how prizes were paid for.
Distribute tickets among your organization. Require each ticket distributor to keep a list of the number of tickets issued and the amount of proceeds received from donations. Assign someone the job of treasurer and have that person keep track of the total donations. You may consider opening a bank account for the raffle proceeds but do your research on local bank offerings because most banks do not offer accounts for short-term use. Print out fliers for the raffle and post them on public notice boards. Organization members can also hand out fliers at work. All fliers and advertisements must contain the same details as the tickets that describe the nature of the raffle.
Encourage organization members to make door-to-door trips through their neighborhoods marketing the raffle. Ask local businesses if members of your group can promote the raffle and distribute tickets on the business premises. Busy shops such as grocery stores are good locations for fundraisers if you go during peak times such as Saturday afternoon.
Hold your raffle drawing. Invite local media to the event to maximize publicity for your nonprofit group. Gaining exposure helps to make your next fundraising project more successful.
You must follow state rules exactly. You cannot predetermine a winner or manipulate the draw in any way. Make sure you distribute prizes in a timely manner and do not cancel or rearrange the drawing because doing so violates state law.
If you do not comply with the Florida laws governing raffles, you and your organization are guilty of a second degree misdemeanor and subject to a fine.
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