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Organise a Raffle, Draw or Lottery

By: Sharon Walls - Updated: 16 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Fundraising Fundraise Lottery Raffle

Before you run a raffle, prize draw or lottery for your charitable cause, you will need to make yourself aware of the latest lottery legislation. Even small, incidental lotteries are regulated under gambling laws, and as such there are strict rules to follow.

Here is what you should consider when organising a raffle, lottery or prize draw:

Rules and Regulations For Lotteries

There are many laws to consider when running a lottery. As each fundraising circumstance is different, you should contact your local authority or seek independent legal advice to ensure you are adhering to the latest lottery and gambling laws.

In general, however, the following rules and regulations apply to lotteries:

  • Every ticket must be sold for the same price
  • Every ticket must have the same odds of winning the lottery
  • Tickets can only be sold to persons aged 16 or over
Please note that, depending on the size of your lottery, you may also require a licence from your local authority or from the Gambling Commission. You may refer to the Gambling Act 2005 for guidance, or contact your local council.

Organising a Raffle or Lottery as Part of a Larger Event

Although raffles are great fundraising endeavours on their own, many groups and charities also run raffles as part of other events, such as shopping fairs and parties. These types of lotteries are referred to as “incidental non-commercial lotteries”; in other words, the lottery is not the main event.

When running an incidental, non-commercial lottery, you will be exempt from many of the rules and regulations governing other types of lotteries. However, although the rules are less strict, the Gambling Act 2005 still applies and you should seek guidance if necessary.

When organising an incidental lottery, you should consider the following rules:

  • All lottery tickets must be sold at the event, with all participants present
  • You cannot offer more than £250 in prizes, even if prizes have been donated
  • You cannot offer cash prizes
  • You cannot conduct a “roll-over” lottery of any type
By adhering to these rules, the process of running an incidental non-commercial lottery is actually made a lot simpler for fundraisers. You will need to print or buy ticket books, collect prizes and choose your ticket price ahead of time. Then, on the day of your event, you can move around the room and sell tickets to interested parties.

The best way to conduct a lottery as part of another fundraising activity is to leave the prize draw until the end of the event. This way, not only will you have more time to sell tickets, but people will also stay to see if they've won, giving you more time to fundraise with other activities too!

Four Steps to a Successful Lottery, Raffle or Prize Draw

Once you have decided to conduct a lottery and have reviewed the relevant legal requirements, it's one of the easier fundraising events to plan.

Running a lottery requires four simple steps:

  • Printing tickets or buying ticket books
  • Procuring prizes
  • Promoting the lottery and selling tickets
  • Running the lottery
Once you have cleared the legislative hurdles, these steps are easy to perform and are likely to result in a fair amount of money raised for your charitable cause.

By making yourself aware of current legislation and keeping your plans organised, you are well on your way to a successful lottery, prize draw or raffle. However, if you're ever in doubt about your plans or need assistance, you should contact your local authority, the Institute of Fundraising, the Gambling Commission, or check the Gambling Act 2005.

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