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August 23, 2012

Tips on Thursday: Giveaways

Free place to sleep
Free place to sleep (Photo credit: Brad Stabler)
Everyone loves getting free stuff and bloggers love to host giveaways because of the traffic it can bring to the blog. However, many bloggers do not follow the laws governing giveaways and could catch some unwanted attention - the attention of the Attorney General's Office. With just a few rules & guidelines you can make your next giveaway kosher.

If you use Rafflecopter to collect entries then it is pretty easy to come in compliance. By adding a mandatory entry of agreeing to Terms & Conditions, you can notify participants of the rules governing your giveaway as well as providing a "no purchase necessary" entry. Here are statements to include in your terms & conditions:

  1. The dates and time the contest opens and closes. Even if you are using Rafflecopter that shows how much time remains to enter, you must include it in the T&C.
  2. Include "No Purchase Necessary" and "Void Where Prohibited" - Contests must have a "free" entry and it can be argued that time is a cost and therefore any actions to enter (following you on twitter, leaving a comment, etc.) might be considered a "purchase". Some states (i.e. New York and Florida) have more stringent laws governing contests for both the host and the entrant such as being bonded or registered with the state.
  3. State the value of the prize. Most of our giveaways are small in value, but if a prize is worth $600 or more IRS paperwork must be filed. If you are doing a really BIG giveaway and the combined total of all prizes being offered is valued at $5,000 or more you must be bonded.
  4. How are prizes award, winners contacted, length of time to respond, and what will happen to unclaimed prizes. It would be a good idea to include a statement about the odds of winning (typically based on the number of entrants, but with people assigning point values to different entry options the statement may need to be altered a bit). 24 - 48 hours may be considered too short of time for the winner to have to respond. Sweepstakes ran by major companies and organizations typically give 30 days. Choosing a new winner is the best option for unclaimed prizes, but you can also choose to offer a new contest.
  5. You may also consider limiting entries to people 18 or older (or age of majority in the entrants location). Anyone under 18 would need parents' permission to enter.
  6. To comply with with anti-spam and privacy laws, state that contact information will be used only to contact the winner and that the information will not be sold or shared. You can offer an entry for signing up for your newsletter. For more information on newsletters and anti-spam and privacy laws, see this article.

Coral of Alchemy of Scrawl has a good example to follow for T&C:

By clicking 'enter' I agree to these terms and conditions:
  • I am at least 18 years old or older.
  • I understand my information will not be shared with anyone and I will only be contacted if I am a winner.
  • I understand my entry may be verified and if the entry cannot be verified it may be removed.
  • Void where prohibited.
  • Physical copies can only be shipped to US/CAN. eBooks and/or Gift Cards can be emailed internationally unless prohibited by that country.
  • No purchase necessary to win.

You can get more information on what you need to do to make your next giveaway legal with this article.

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer and this information should not be considered legal advice. If you have questions or concerns it would be best to contact a lawyer to address your specific situations.

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  1. This is so helpful! I've been doing the basics, like minimum age to enter, start/ends dates, etc.. But it never occurred to me to add the "No purchase necessary," or "void where prohibited" sentences. Thanks!

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