DENVER — For 14 years now, the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Denver holds a raffle to give away a home. And in 14 years, the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Denver has never given away a home.
The deadline for the Mile High Raffle is April 21, but if the previous attempts to raffle a home are any indication, this “Denver Dream House” will not be awarded to anyone.
The fine print reveals why. At least 80,000 tickets must be sold for the home to be an option for the grand prize.
“This is why it's so important for people buying tickets to understand the history of the organization, and really what the fine print is,” said Laurie Styron, executive director of CharityWatch.
The Mile High Raffle has never sold more than 80,000 tickets.
The fine print on a mailer states:
“If fewer than 80,000 tickets are sold, the Grand Prize will become a cash amount equal to half the net proceeds, not to exceed $2 million.”
On the Mile High Raffle website, the rules state:
Grand Prize If 80,000 Tickets Sold:
If [Boys and Girls Club of Metro Denver] sells 80,000 Raffle tickets by the Final Ticket Purchase Deadline, then the grand prize (the “Grand Prize”) awarded to the winner (the “Grand Prizewinner”) will be either (a) a lump sum cash prize of $1,400,000 (the “Cash Grand Prize”), (b) a residence (the “Residence Grand Prize”), or (c) an annuity cash prize of $2,000,000 paid over 25 years (the “Annuity”). The manner in which the Grand Prizewinner elects the Cash Grand Prize, the Residence Grand Prize, or the Annuity is set forth below in the “Additional Rules Applicable to Grand Prizewinner” section of these Rules.
Grand Prize If Less Than 80,000 Tickets Sold:
If [Boys and Girls Club of Metro Denver] sells less than 80,000 tickets by the Final Ticket Purchase Deadline, the raffle will be held as scheduled, and prizes will be awarded as advertised with the exception that the Grand Prizewinner will receive a choice between sum equal to 50% of the Net Raffle Proceeds paid as an annuity over 25 years, not to exceed $2,000,000 or a one-time cash payment of 70% of the annuity value, not to exceed $1,400,000. The payout on all other prizes is not reliant on the number of tickets sold.
“To expect the public to be able to really read through the fine print and understand it is not a reasonable expectation for a charity to have,” Styron said.
What happens if the home is not raffled?
According to a spokeswoman with the Boys & Girls Club, the nonprofit pre-negotiates a price to purchase the home, should enough tickets be sold -- which has never happened.
"If we don't meet the minimum ticket threshold, we instead award the cash price and we do not complete the transaction for the house," the spokeswoman said.
According to the nonprofit, the raffle has distributed nearly $20 million in cash and prizes over its 14-year history.
"The raffle raises critical funds that help ensure the 23,000 kids we serve have access to our sports, education, arts, health and wellness, and character and leadership programs," the spokeswoman said.
The most tickets ever sold for the raffle is "more than 80% of the tickets required to meet the minimum ticket threshold," the spokeswoman said.
Since 80,000 tickets need to be sold to raffle off the house, "more than 80%" is roughly 64,000 tickets.
With all the external promotion of the raffle – social media, mailers, commercials -- marketing a raffle can get almost as pricey as the home.
“Raffles are very expensive for charities to run. They take marketing dollars, staff time, they take legal advice,” Styron said.
A financial audit showed how much the Boys & Girls Club of Metro Denver took in from last year’s raffle, how much it spent to run and market the raffle and how much was kept by the nonprofit.
The 2022 Mile High Raffle took in $7,837,315.
The prizes distributed added up to $2,641,583.
The raffle expenses totaled $2,466,757, including $1,347,637 in marketing and communications.
Based on those dollar amounts, the raffle resulted in 35% for the Boys & Girls Club of Metro Denver, 34% for prizes and 31% in expenses.
The current cost of a raffle ticket is $150 for one, $400 for three and $550 for five.
“Ask yourself if it's really worth it? Or if maybe you should just make a donation to a particular charity that you want to support instead?” Styron said.
The CEO of Boys & Girls Club of Metro Denver was traveling and was not available for an interview until next week.
Separately, there is a raffle going on through the Children’s Hospital Colorado Foundation called Mighty Millions Raffle.
That raffle is also marketing on TV with commercials saying that the grand prize is a $3 million home. According to a foundation spokeswoman, that raffle has “awarded every grand prize home since the inception of Mighty Millions, eight in all.”
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