Permits for raffles?

Saxton

Member
Feb 19, 2024
21
5
I have some family in Sunbright, Tennessee. Sadly, a devastating tornado tore through the city earlier this month. Unfortunately, neither the state nor the federal government offered assistance, because the city doesn't meet the threshold for financial damage. It really is a tiny dot on the map, but the devastation is real. I thought about donating some big ticket items that can be raffled off as a fundraiser. However, I believe that gambling is illegal in that state, except for the state's lottery, so I'm afraid it won't be possible to hold a raffle. I have no idea where I should start looking for the information. Does anyone know whether I could get such a permit?
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Location
Sunbright, Tennessee, United States
I'm really sorry to hear about the damage to Sunbright that occurred earlier this month. I didn't catch the news when it happened, but just read up on it and was relieved to learn that no one was seriously injured or killed. But judging by all the photos of commercial buildings and residences that were affected, it's clear that a lot of lives were devastated by this. Hopefully insurance will cover a good portion of the damage, but I know plenty of folks won't be able to count on that or there may be other financial support needed in terms of temporary housing or disrupted incomes.

It's a shame FEMA isn't providing assistance but great you're doing what you can to help. According to the Tennessee Secretary of State's website, it looks like raffles can be held by qualifying non-profit groups. Maybe you could reach out to a Tennessee non-profit that focuses on disaster relief to see if they'd be willing to sponsor your raffle idea? Working with such an organization, it looks like you'd have to submit an Annual Gaming Event Application to the State's Division of Charitable Solicitations and Gaming. Unfortunately, I'm noticing their website says events must be held "between July 1st and June 30th of the following year" after you submit the application, so this may not actually be the best option for raising the emergency funds that Sunbright needs.

If you know people in Sunbright whose lives were particularly devastated (e.g., if your relatives lost property or are otherwise experiencing financial hardship), you might also consider setting up a GoFundMe page for them and getting the word out to ask for donations. For example, I found the following GoFundMe pages for Sunbright residents who lost their homes and are in need of financial support:

 
It is true that Tennessee has strict regulations on gambling and it limits it to the state lottery. However, sometimes charitable organizations may be permitted to conduct raffles under specific conditions. You can contact the Tennessee Secretary of State or the local county clerk's office for guidance on obtaining the necessary permits and complying with legal requirements for conducting fundraising raffles in Sunbright.
 
From what I've read, you won't be able to hold your own raffle, but you could donate the items to a charitable organization to raffle off for the tornado victims. You'll need to go through a qualified 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(19) organization that has registered with the Division of Charitable Solicitations and Gaming in Tennessee. There's bound to be tons of organizations that meet those requirements. I'd start by calling a few of them up.
 
From what I've read, you won't be able to hold your own raffle, but you could donate the items to a charitable organization to raffle off for the tornado victims. You'll need to go through a qualified 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(19) organization that has registered with the Division of Charitable Solicitations and Gaming in Tennessee. There's bound to be tons of organizations that meet those requirements. I'd start by calling a few of them up.
I second this, found this info doing a little research myself, and it's mostly the same info I was able to find.

This site should be exactly what OP needs:
 
I second this, found this info doing a little research myself, and it's mostly the same info I was able to find.

This site should be exactly what OP needs:

I found the same site, but like I mentioned above, I'm not sure a charity raffle would actually be helpful considering the timelines involved. Folks in Sunbright need help now and it looks like any fundraiser approved by the SOS couldn't be held for at least another year.

I really think the OP needs to take action now, in the immediate aftermath of the devastation, using whatever fundraising tools are available (e.g., GoFundMe). The people the OP would be soliciting donations from are also more likely to donate today, while the situation is still raw, compared to some day off in the future when the State finally greenlights their raffle idea.
 
I wish cities and states would come together to help recover from events like this, especially if FEMA isn't doing anything to help. Even if it's a smaller amount of damage and doesn't qualify for support, I think the state should find ways of helping those affected by the aftermath. It should be their duty to support their citizens in a time of need like this.

In regards to doing a raffle, I think the best option you have is to utilize a charity organization that is here for this kind of thing. Like @mantis said about having to go through a 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(19) charitable organization.

Otherwise, like @Eric said, try using a crowdfunding platform like GoFundMe, as you'll want the funds asap. And while collecting on that, try to work with the charity organizations to see if they can help the area recover. Good luck!
 
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