Raffles and lotteries

Putting on a raffle at a fete or running your own lottery can be fun ways to get people to support local Girlguiding groups

What is a lottery?

An activity is defined as a lottery if:

  • people pay to enter a prize draw
  • prizes are allocated
  • and the winning of the prizes is based entirely on chance

Raffles, sweepstakes, tombolas, and 100 clubs are all types of lottery. 

Most lotteries will need to be registered with your Local Authority, or you need to ensure a few rules are applied. 

Registering with your Local Authority

Most of the time you’ll need to register with your Local Authority and pay the registration fee, before running your lottery or raffle.

To register with your Local Authority, someone will need to be named as having responsibility for the lottery on the application. This person, called the ‘promoter’, needs to be a member of your unit or area and be authorised in writing by your commissioner. Different local authorities may have different regulations, so you’ll get the best guidance by speaking to them directly.

You’ll also need to make sure your lottery or raffle meets these criteria:

  • No ticket may be sold by, or to, anyone under the age of 16.
  • Every ticket must state the name of the unit or area, the name and address of the promoter, the name of the Local Authority who authorised the lottery, the date of the draw and the price of the ticket.
  • All tickets must be sold at the same price and you can’t offer any discounts.
  • At least 20% of the proceeds must go directly to the charity you are fundraising for (eg your unit). You can deduct any reasonable expenses from organising the lottery or buying prizes from the money you make on the lottery.
  • Some selling restrictions apply eg no street sales. Speak to your Local Authority to find out what other restrictions are in place in your area.
  • All tickets must be paid for before the draw.
  • The unit or area can’t make more than £250,000 from lotteries or raffles in any calendar year . You don’t have any single prize that is worth more than £25,000
  • You can run rollover lotteries. But the total rollover prize must not exceed the maximum prize allowance of £25,000
  • The total value of all tickets sold for a single lottery mustn’t exceed £20,000.
  • Everyone taking part in the lottery must be able to access, in writing, the terms and conditions of the lottery.

Your Local Authority will ask you to report back on your lottery or raffle within three months of the draw taking place. This is called a return. It needs to be signed by two people authorised in writing by the unit or area. It must include the following information:

  • The date on which tickets went on sale.
  • The date of the draw.
  • The total amount of money raised (proceeds) from the lottery.
  • The amounts deducted in providing prizes.
  • The amount deducted for expenses.
  • The amount applied for the charity you are supporting (at least 20% of the proceeds).
  • Whether any expenses incurred were paid from a different source (other than the proceeds of ticket sales) and, if so, what that source was.

Lottery types that don't need to be registered with a local authority

There are a few types of lotteries that don’t need to be registered with a Local Authority.

These need to meet the criteria listed below in order to be exempt from registration.  

Incidental lotteries are exclusively held at events, with tickets only sold at the same event. For example, if your lottery or raffle is held at a fete or fair, and tickets are only on sale at the event.

All the proceeds of the lottery must go towards the charity you are supporting, although up to £100 can be deducted to cover any expenses from organising the lottery and up to £500 can be deducted from the proceeds to go towards prizes. Prizes can also be donated to the draw and there is no maximum limit on the value of these donated prizes.

The draw can take place at the event or after it has finished. However, you should make clear to participants when it will take place. You can’t rollover prizes in incidental lotteries.

A private society lottery is when tickets can only be sold by, and to, members of a particular group (ie not the general public). This could be your unit, region, district or division.

These lotteries can only take place in the premises where the unit/division/region is based, with tickets only available for sale to members and guests on those premises.
The lottery can only be promoted by a member of the unit/division/region or other area authorised in writing by the relevant commissioner. And you can only advertise the lottery on the premises.

The price must be the same for all tickets, so multi-buy offers - such as five tickets for the price of four - are not allowed. Tickets must be non-transferable, and the ticket price must be paid to the promoter before the ticket is issued. If the price has not been paid, there is no entry to the lottery and no prize can be won. A ticket must be provided, but there aren’t specific requirements for what information you have on the tickets.

A work lottery does not require a Local Authority registration, but it can only be promoted by people who work on a single set of premises (the ‘work premises’). Tickets can only be sold to other people who work in the same premises. All the money from ticket sales must either be used for the reasonable expenses of organising the lottery and prizes or raised for the charity you are supporting. Advertising the lottery can only take place at the work premises.

Similarly to work lotteries, a residents’ lottery must be promoted by people who live in a single set of premises (officially called the ‘residential premises’) with tickets only available to other people who live in the same residential premises (even if it is not their only home). This could be a university hall of residence, a residential home, a sheltered accommodation facility, a nurses’ home or a mansion block.

In both of these types of lottery, the price must be the same for all tickets, so multi-buy offers - such as five tickets for the price of four - are not allowed. Tickets must be non-transferable, and the ticket price must be paid to the promoter of the lottery before the ticket is issued. If the price has not been paid, there is no entry to the lottery (and no prize can be won). A ticket must be provided, but there aren’t specific requirements for what information you have on the tickets.

Prizes

Think about whether the prizes you offer are suitable for the people taking part. There aren’t any restrictions on offering home-made prizes, like food or toys, but do make sure they are safe.

Find out more

To get information and advice on planning raffles and lotteries, check out these sites.