Social Impact Culture: The magic of the "un-raffle"

Are you celebrating philanthropy in the workplace? Of course you are! 

It's always a great idea combine "doing good"--giving money to a charity, for instance--with an opportunity for employees to have fun and maybe get something out of it for themselves, too.

So how about a raffle? Great question.

The challenge with raffles and other "games of chance" is that they are highly regulated activities. Games of chance are considered gambling by federal and state governments and by regulatory agencies like the IRS. This impacts taxability and registration requirements. Raffles done wrong can result in legal and criminal liability--even if the purpose is charitable. So, to avoid the hassle, it's a good idea to stay away from raffles and games of chance altogether.

The good news is that you can accomplish your goal in a very similar way, but without the hassle, by doing the following:

1. Launch a contest to benefit a charity, but don't call it a raffle.

2. Allow anyone to enter the contest, whether or not they pay/donate money.

3. Add an activity to amp up the charitable side. For example, ask people to submit a few sentences about why the cause is important when they submit an entry (with or without money).

4. Select the name of the winner randomly. If you decide to offer a cash prize to an employee, this prize will be treated as a bonus for payroll purposes and taxed accordingly. A tax free option is to award a Giving Card to the winner, where the winner gets to "give" the money to a charity of choice.

5. Celebrate the collective donation to charity by sending the charity not only the money (minus the prize), but also all of the messages written by employees about the cause (with the names stripped). This is a nice public relations boost for the company if you tell the charity that it can use the messages and the name of your company in their marketing materials.

The un-raffle. Something new to love about doing good in the workplace.