There may be many reasons you’re interested in sponsoring a gun raffle. Perhaps you’re a non-profit organization looking for a fun way to raise money for your organization. Or, maybe you’re a gun or sporting goods store that wants to raise awareness of your products. The reasons vary greatly, but one thing is sure: there are rules and guidelines. Knowing and following local, state, and federal laws, as well as general rules of thumb, will ensure your gun raffle is a smashing success.
How to do a gun raffle: It is essential to know the different types of gun giveaways, the purpose of your raffle, and the format you want to use. Make sure you understand local, state, and federal laws regarding gun giveaways. Work with a Federal Firearms Licensed gun retailer to purchase a raffle gun and transfer it to the winner. And finally, work with an attorney to write a set of giveaway/raffle rules and ensure you’re doing everything correctly.
The guidance we provide here is only guidance, and we are not legal experts. Regardless of the route you choose (allow people to enter gun raffles online or local only) and the reason for holding a gun giveaway, you should consult with an attorney beforehand.
Types of Gun Giveaways
When you decide to do a gun giveaway, make sure you use the proper terminology and follow the applicable laws. Gun giveaways can fall into two categories:
- Sweepstakes (or a raffle)
Sweepstakes are luck-based, where winners are chosen at random, like in a gun raffle. Contests are skill-based promotions where winners are selected based on merit. Whichever you choose, make sure you use the correct verbiage in your gun giveaway rules.
Non-Profit Gun Giveaway
If you are a non-profit trying to promote your organization and raise money, you’ll likely be conducting a gun raffle.
To begin, you will most likely want to contract with a local Federal Firearms Licensed gun dealer. Work with them to determine which gun you want to raffle and set an agreed-upon price.
The gun dealer will hold the firearms until the giveaway. Once a winner is selected, that person will go into the dealer to do the background check and transfer paperwork.
Then you will pay the dealer the agreed-upon price of the gun if you haven’t already. This is the best way to avoid potential liability.
Alternatively, a private party donates a gun, and your organization conducts a raffle outside the federal transfer system without a licensed dealer. You can only do this if the laws in your area allow for it, but it comes with far more liability, and we don’t recommend it.
Gun Giveaway Format
You must consider the format of your gun raffle. If you’re selling to fundraise, there are multiple ways you can do it.
For example, will you sell an unlimited number of raffle tickets, or will you only sell a specific amount?
Will your giveaway be daily, weekly, monthly, yearly?
Will you give away lots of guns, or just one? There are lots of factors to consider.
If the purpose of your gun giveaway is to make money, think about how you want to do it. Some things to consider may be how many people you’ll have selling raffle tickets, where you’ll be selling them, and for how long you’ll be selling them.
Will they be at a fundraising event or for several months leading up to an event or date?
If you decide to sell a limited number of tickets, you can set a higher ticket price.
Since the odds will be better, people will likely be more willing to pay a higher price. Plus you’ll know what you will make.
For example, say you buy a gun for $1000 to give away. If you sell tickets for $25 each and decide to sell 100 of them, you know you’ll make $2500 ($1500 profit) if you sell out. The odds of winning will be 1:100.
If you decide to sell as many tickets as you can, you’re probably looking at a longer time frame for selling them, and since the odds won’t be as good, people may not want to spend as much.
However, you can use a little reverse psychology.
For example, let’s say you take the instance above, and instead of one chance for $25, you sell tickets at 1 for $10 or 5 for $25. At the second option, you have to sell 100 bundles of 5 at $25 each to make the same money as the fixed number. However, you’ll also sell some for $10, plus there are no limits.
Depending on how many people you have selling them, where you’re selling them, and the length of time you’re selling them, you could make significantly more, but the odds won’t be as good for the people entering.
Whatever your reason for doing a gun giveaway, look at how others have done it and even reach out to them for advice. Ask what has and hasn’t worked and what they’d do differently. Many organizations have gone this route, so there is a lot of knowledge to draw on.
For-Profit Gun Giveaways
If you are a for-profit organization, there are likely several reasons you want to do a gun giveaway. While these likely won’t be a raffle, remember, there are many applicable rules that may be different from a non-profit fundraiser.
Gun Giveaway Format
If you choose to do a gun giveaway to raise awareness of your store, a product, or a for-profit enterprise, different rules will apply and a different desired outcome than a fundraising raffle.
Many gun organizations or gun stores choose to give away guns regularly. It could be frequent or bigger sweepstakes once per year. Regardless, some of the outcomes are the same and may include:
- Gathering emails and/or mailing addresses to send marketing and promotional materials
- Build a database with personal information to better understand target audiences for marketing purposes
- Use as a promotional mechanism whereas the winners are published and used to try to gain media attention
- Gain a more significant social media following
You’ll likely have an entry form on your website, making it easy for people to enter. You may want to have them fill out a survey to enter and gather marketing demographics. Perhaps you’ll have an alternative form of entry, such as mailing in a postcard or sharing a post on social media, and inviting a friend to follow.
However you choose to do it, there are also many examples already out there to follow.
For-profit organizations have different rules to follow than non-profits fundraising with a raffle.
Make sure you understand the No Purchase Necessary rules. If you’re running sweepstakes, you aren’t allowed to require a purchase for entry or to win.
However, if you’re running a contest, you can ask for a purchase or other consideration. For example, perhaps you decide to run a photo contest for a gun. In this case, you may ask for a photo submission to be judged on merit.
Know your state rules because some don’t allow a purchase at all, regardless of the type of giveaway. Always check your state rules and regulations before running a gun giveaway. Additionally, some local government regulations may require raffle permits or other requirements, so check the local laws.
Look into an alternative means of entry. If you have a contest based on a purchase, you must also advertise how people can enter without making a purchase.
The easiest way to avoid this mess is to have a method of entry that doesn’t involve a purchase, such as social media follows and interactions or shares. If you go the social media route, make sure you follow your chosen platform’s guidelines!
Some other rules should be followed and included in the giveaway rules:
- Your rules should include the opening and closing dates for entries and disclosure on how winners will be chosen.
- For contests, include selection criteria, and if there will be a judging panel, who they will be.
- You must include when the prizes are awarded.
- You will want to include how winners will be contacted. If a winner is unreachable, indicate how the prize will be forfeited and in what timeframe.
- Finally, you’ll want to note how people can obtain a list of winners.
Also, consider options for people that live in communities that don’t allow particular firearms. For example, gift cards or cash alternatives may be an option.
Conclusion – How to do a Gun Raffle
For all you skip-to-the-end-readers (me too 😉 ), here are the main points on how to do a gun raffle:
- Know the different types of gun giveaways
- Know the purpose of your raffle
- Decide what gun raffle format you want to use
- Understand local, state, and federal laws regarding gun giveaways
- Work with a Federal Firearms Licensed gun retailer to purchase a raffle gun and transfer it to the winner
- Work with an attorney to write a set of giveaway/raffle rules and ensure you’re doing everything correctly
^^ Read the full gun raffle how-to article above for more detail on each bullet point ^^
Gun raffles and giveaways are an excellent way to raise money and awareness and gain new members for your organization. They are popular and frequently done around the country in many different formats.
If you’re unsure of the best route for your organization, reach out to others who have done them. They’ll have lots of advice and tips. Once you’ve got the formula down, you’ll be able to have successful gun giveaways for years to come to benefit your organization!