I see a lot of Silhouette Cameo and Cricut small business owners using social media giveaways to promote their businesses. Overall, this is usually an effective way to grow your small business. However, I’ve seen a few lately that worry me. These are ones that state: “Get entered to win with a purchase” or “Purchase xyz product for a chance to win”. As small business owners, we can’t have giveaways that require purchases. Unfortunately, these types of giveaways are classified as lotteries – which are illegal. Let’s look more at this:
3 Types of Giveaways
Sweepstakes – These are random chance giveaways. All participants have an equal chance of winning the prize.
- Examples: Pick the name of the winner from a hat or a random number generator.
Contests – In these types of giveaways, a participant submits something and it is judged – then a winner is picked.
- Examples: Cutest customer photo wearing a shirt you made, or best caption on a photo for your upcoming product line.
Lotteries – In these types of giveaways, a participant buys their way in to get a chance to win. Lotteries in the USA are government run – and cannot be run by small business owners.
- Example: Raffle tickets are sold for a chance to win a prize. (It’s important to note that in most states, raffles are allowed for non-profit companies – which most small businesses are not.)
Who Regulates Giveaways?
Sweepstakes, contests, and lotteries are regulated by the state or country in which the participant lives in. Additionally, Federal agencies such as the FTC and FCC oversee them.
How to Be Sure You Don’t Have a Lottery
- Be sure that your giveaways fall into the definitions above of sweepstakes or contests. Steer clear of lottery style giveaways.
- Be sure that your giveaway has clear terms including: 1) The prize to be won, 2) Define who can enter 3) Have a clear start and end date 4) Detail how to enter 5) Explain how to enter 6) Tell how the winner will be announced 7) Address what will happen in the event of technical difficulties.
- Research the laws that govern giveaways and contests.
- Reach out to an attorney for assistance for giveaways with high value prizes.
A Few Miscellaneous Facts
- It is good to know that Canada prohibits random chance giveaways. Instead, giveaways must have some element of skill.
- Prizes worth more than $600 in the USA need to be reported to the IRS.
Tell me, do you use giveaways to build your business?
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