Running an online raffle as a fundraiser...

…surely this must be popular. I’m mainly thinking of raffling of high-quality prints of my artwork to the winner with some smaller prizes below that (calendars, notecards, etc) …

The main reason we are trying to raise money is that we are trying to have the wedding we really want, and it’s daunting, financially, since we’re all students (both adults and the one child in the household) and income is sort of a joke.

I know that “games of chance” are regulated in some places and was just wondering about the feasibility of having a raffle for artwork to raise money for our wedding. Does anyone know (legally/logistically) to make this possible?

What other valuable yet inexpensive (i.e., valuable in other than totally cash-oriented value) prizes to raffle off…

Is this just a really bad idea? The problem that we’re facing is that we’re neck deep in student debt and trying to pay for the wedding on ourself. We’re not “casual wedding people” so we WILL find a way to make this a big fluffy white dress/men in tuxedos blah blah blah kind of wedding. Mind you there will also be juggling, bubblewrap contests, “tall tales” competition and an open bar. So it should be fun.

We’re just trying to find a way to have the wedding we need without having to pay for it for the next 10 years.

So does anyone know the laws around raffles? Can I do this without getting arrrested?

Contact your state’s gambling commission. My state and many others restrict raffles and such to charitable organizations only. Federal law also restricts the selling of raffle and gaming tickets online.

If it is on the internet, you will undoubtedly have a legal problem as it would have to meet gambling laws of all states and other jurisdictions.

Instead of a raffle, you might try an auction. My daughter is a Girl Scout and the council here has an annual online auction with rather high-value prizes (plane tickets, Disney passes, etc) that seems to do well.

I have also seen “Chinese auctions” used as fundraisers online. I am not sure of the legality of those as they are rather similiar to an auction.

Or, you know, you could wait until you have the dough, or try to sell stuff on etsy/eBay to raise cash.

I don’t think it is the best idea.

Surely you could have the wedding you want and not be paying it off for the next 10 years ! I know the wedding market is ridiculously over priced but you can get some great deals if you look and just pull some favours.

I’m getting married in June 2010, funding the majority of this ourselves and the total to be paid is less than £3500.
We are getting married in a remote church in the Lake District,
and holding a festival styled reception on the grounds of a nearby hotel.
We have covered,
church wedding fees,
hotel grounds hire,
classic cars, (I own one and borrowing one from friend in classic car club)
wedding dress (paying for materials only, fiance’s friend runs her own bridal shop)
bridesmaids dress x2
classic ice cream van hire,
my suit, best man suit,
alcohol (60 bottles of wine, 12 bottles of champagne, 12 cases of beer)
4 bands confirmed so far (paying only petrol money for each band, most bands are friends or friends of friends).
flowers,decorations and lighting.
wedding cake (to be made by brides mum and my gran, both have many years of experience making wedding cakes).

So we might be lucky with who we know, but my point is weddings don’t need to be expensive.

Sorry I couldn’t be of more help with your raffle idea.

We really don’t have much option about when we get married, unless we want to wait until after he finishes his 3 year residency, which he will start in July. We’ve already been together almost 5 years. I’m not willing to wait a total of 8 years to get married. I’ll be 40 then! He really won’t have any time off once he starts his residency, so it’s either get it in before, or wait until after.

Ok so I will make some phone calls to check about the legality. What if I had a free drawing with the ability to also make a donation? Like it’s free to sign up for the drawing, and everyone is eligible for the prize, but if you want to donate you can… do you think that would be above board?

I think that would also be a bad idea because I think of a donation as being one made to a charity or worthwhile cause.

Ok Opal - call your state commission on gaming to get the raffle forms for NON-501 (C)3 groups. Fill out said paper work and if the terms, rules, regulations, deadlines, hoops, bells, whistles, and pints of blood are all worth it then sign on the dotted line and have your raffle.

If you want to think outside the box, do you know any firemen? [get your heads out of the gutter folks]

See if you could use a local firehouse to “sponsor” a raffle for you. That way you can use their tax designation for the raffle. I’ve seen it done for sick children, make-a-wish type stuff and other things, never for a marriage.

To me this appears to be something that has more to do with the idea of an amazing wedding than with the logistics of paying for it. I have seen amazing weddings done for less than 2k. I;ve seen terrible weddings for 30k.

You are adept at thinking outside the box - from what I can tell so have at it!

ETA: Uh Oh…are you in Ohio like your sig says? Ohio Gaming Law statesthat you must have the 501-c-3 tax status for games or schemes of chance…

Our “amazing wedding” isn’t going to be some vastly expensive ornate extravaganza or anything. It just isn’t going to be a pot luck in the back yard. Our budget is $8,000. I think that’s reasonable, especially since we pretty much feel like since virtually everyone will be coming from out of town, that we have to offer a meal rather than doing a more “cocktails and munchies” kind of reception. (It will be a buffet, though, not a served sit-down dinner.) (And those contracts have already been signed and deposits paid, so at this point trying to come up with some sort of alternative is out of the question.)

Dewey: websites have donation buttons all the time for “help us keep this website running” and so on. I think that at least on the internet, donating to non “charity” causes is pretty commonplace.

Why can’t you just sell a few prints to pay for the wedding? Make money the good old fashioned way?

I’m not really sure that having a wedding beyond your means is the way to go, and I would question the use of the phrase “the wedding we need”.

Do you have an idea of the identity of people who would be willing to donate to your wedding?

My wife and I pulled off a white dress and tux wedding with 120 guests and a lunch reception for $1600 in 2000. I’d say you cut the budget in half, at least.

One way to do that is to pot-luck any food. Ask your families to each contribute something (give them a list of options if you want to ensure that things are coordinated for your theme).

And if you’re in your 30’s, you probably don’t need the traditional gifts given to newlyweds. You could put some of the things you need for the wedding on your registry. Many people would rather buy things like your bouquet (which will actually be in the pictures) than a toaster that you don’t need.

I’m going to put stock in the fact that you know what kind of wedding you want. So with your number in mind - and knowing you already signed a contract for a caterer, do you have the booze yet? Our wedding we had 120 guests, and we went to our favorite local package store where we they provided the booze [open bar all night] and they said they would buy back any booze we didn’t use. So a friend of mine was a bartender who we gave a hundred bucks and tips were hers to keep. We spent $500 on the booze total…and my familiy unfortunately can drink! It worked out well.

I’m guessing the high cost is from the venue and food, no?

I would agree with this. Does anyone actually need jugglers and an open bar?

If it’s what you want, though, maybe you have friends who could donate goods or services to raffle off? A massage, a meal at a restaurant, etc. I don’t actually see a big difference between that and donating money to your wedding, but it isn’t a direct “so-and-so is paying for the bubblewrap” thing.

Oh, this +1.

In fact, I’d amplify this to begging for donations for your wedding is goddamn tacky. If you can’t afford it, you don’t need it.

Oh my god! You’d better hurry up then.

Given that many of Opalcat’s friends are jugglers (as is the groom), I’m guessing the juggling will be free.

That’s for people who, y’know, actually use or participate in the site. Unless you’re going to let donors sit bedside at the honeymoon, this doesn’t wash.

I’ve heard it’s illegal in some states to get married after 39.

Wouldn’t it have been a good idea to figure out the funding before signing the contracts?