Title:
Cooperative or Tiered Raffle System, Especially Suitable for Educational Scholarship Purposes
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Cooperative or tiered raffle system. An upper tier entity, for example a non-profit organization legally entitled to conduct raffles in the relevant jurisdiction, cooperates with a lower tier entity, for example a school, to conduct a raffle. During at least part of the period of sales of “tickets,” or raffle chances, proceeds from sale of raffle chances are shared between the upper and lower tier entities. Sales of raffle chances, and payment for same, are preferably handled via electronic means, with minimal paper tickets being required. The raffle prize, awarded to the raffle winner or a designee thereof, is preferably a fund to be used for qualified educational costs, which may be held by a trustee for the benefit of the raffle winner or the designee and paid out as required for qualified educational purposes.



Inventors:
Reggie, Fred J. (Lafayette, LA, US)
Application Number:
12/470733
Publication Date:
11/26/2009
Filing Date:
05/22/2009
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F9/24
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
FAN, SU JYA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Law Office, Of Jesse Lambert D. L. L. C. (406 AUDUBON BLVD., LAFAYETTE, LA, 70503, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A method for conducting a tiered raffle, comprising the steps of: a) providing an upper tier entity, said upper tier entity being one legally entitled to conduct raffles in the relevant jurisdiction; b) providing a lower tier entity; c) conducting sales of raffle chances for a raffle prize; d) sharing of proceeds from said sales of raffle chances between said upper tier entity and said lower tier entity; and e) conducting a random drawing among purchasers of said raffle chances, and selecting a raffle prize winner via said random drawing.

2. The raffle of claim 1, comprising the further step of: f) transferring said raffle prize to a trustee, for disbursement at the direction of said raffle winner.

3. The method of claim 2, wherein: said sales of raffle chances occur during a first and a second time period; during said first time period, and said upper tier entity and said lower tier entity share proceeds from sales of raffle chances; and during said second time period, all proceeds from sale of raffle chances are retained by said upper tier entity.

4. The method of claim 3, wherein said raffle prize comprises a fund for payment of educational costs.

5. The method of claim 4, wherein said sales of raffle chances and payment for said raffle chances are performed by electronic means.

6. The method of claim 1, wherein said lower tier entity is one legally entitled to conduct raffles in the relevant jurisdiction.

7. The method of claim 1, wherein said upper tier entity comprises a non-profit organization.

8. The method of claim 7, wherein said lower tier entity comprises an educational institution.

9. The method of claim 1, wherein steps (e) and (d) are carried out via electronic means.

10. A method for conducting a tiered raffle for a prize comprising a fund for educational costs, comprising the steps of: a) providing an upper tier entity, said upper tier entity being a non-profit organization legally entitled to conduct raffles in the relevant jurisdiction; b) providing a lower tier entity; c) conducting sales of raffle chances for a raffle prize, said raffle prize comprising a fund for educational purposes, during a first and a second time period, wherein during said first time period, said upper tier entity and said lower tier entity share proceeds from sales of raffle chances; and wherein during said second time period, all proceeds from sale of raffle chances are retained by said upper tier entity; d) conducting a random drawing among purchasers of said raffle chances, and selecting a raffle winner via said random drawing; and e) transferring said raffle prize to a trustee, for disbursement to an educational institution at the direction of said raffle winner.

11. The raffle of claim 10, wherein said lower tier entity comprises an entity legally entitled to conduct raffles in the relevant jurisdiction.

12. The raffle of claim 11, wherein said lower tier entity is a school.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This regular patent application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 61/055,227, filed May 22, 2008, for all purposes.

BACKGROUND

1. Field of the Invention

This invention is a cooperative or tiered raffle system for fund raising purposes, especially suitable for being conducted by a non-profit organization (the “upper tier” entity) in cooperation with another entity (the “lower tier” entity), with the raffle prize being an educational fund or scholarship.

2. Related Art

Games of chance, more specifically raffles, have long been used to raise money for different entities. Broadly, a raffle is a game of chance wherein participants, in exchange for some payment, receive a chance to win a prize, typically drawn at random. The beneficiary of the raffle receives the raffle proceeds (from sale of chances) less the prize payout and the costs of staging the raffle. Therefore, minimizing the costs of staging the raffle, while maximizing the money taken in from participants, are generally common goals in any raffle. As is later described, the present invention lowers expenditures on marketing efforts due to the focused nature of the marketing effort, and the fact that the lower-tier entity carries out much of the marketing effort.

In some countries, the legal nature of the beneficiary is limited, i.e. not every person or entity may legally stage a raffle. Generally, in most states in the United States, only those entities classed as Non-Profit Organizations (usually referred to hereafter as “NPOs”) under the relevant tax laws may conduct raffles. Examples of NPOs include schools, organizations such as the Boy Scouts of America, and other entities such as The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, etc. There are many other examples of entities that are both national and regional in scope.

Fundraising is a frequent goal of NPOs, to enable them to carry out their work. In the past, various NPOs have employed raffles as a fundraising activity. As with any fundraising effort, maximizing revenue while minimizing the costs of obtaining that revenue are ever present goals.

Experience has shown several key points to the revenue side of the equation. One is that, typically, a specific, tangible prize is more attractive than a sum of money of equal value. By way of example, a raffle wherein the prize is a home with a value of $250,000 is typically more successful than a raffle wherein the prize is $250,000 cash. Another is that the ability to target or focus the customer base is very helpful; by this is meant that the ability to direct raffle sales efforts to persons likely to have a specific need for the prize is likely to be more successful than a more broadcast effort. Using the home raffle example, if the raffle sales effort could somehow be directed towards persons known to be in the market for a new home, the raffle would likely be more successful.

On the cost side of the equation, traditional raffle techniques requiring paper tickets to be sold to customers, payment received by cash or check, etc. are relatively cumbersome and require direct cash outlays (e.g. to buy the tickets) and higher manpower (to sell tickets, manage sales receipts, etc.). Ideally, in today's world, not only “ticket” (by that term is meant the sale of raffle chances, not just paper tickets) sales but sales receipts would be handled via electronic means. Another indirect “cost” might be administration of the award once made. Preferably, once the award is made to the winner of the raffle, the NPO's involvement with that award and award winner is over; e.g., using the home raffle example, once the award is made the NPO has no further responsibilities for maintenance of the home, etc.

The present invention addresses various limitations in the methods of carrying out prior art raffles.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 shows in block format the ticket (raffle chance) sales efforts and flow of sales revenues during the two time periods.

FIG. 2 shows an exemplary layout of one presently preferred embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 3 shows an exemplary layout of some aspects of one presently preferred embodiment of the present invention.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PRESENTLY PREFERRED EMBODIMENT(S)

While the following description sets out an example raffle system, it is to be understood that the description is by way of example only and not limitation. More particularly, the presently preferred embodiment of the present invention is specifically described as a tiered raffle system in which the raffle prize is a fund of money for educational scholarship purposes, which is awarded to the winner of the raffle. The prize is transferable to another person of the winner's choosing. However, it is to be understood that other types of raffle prizes are possible, and the invention is not confined to that type of prize only. Preferably, the “upper tier” entity is an organization legally entitled to stage raffles, such as Non-Profit organizations. The “lower tier” entity preferably is a school or other similar entity.

It is helpful to first describe the participants and other aspects of the system, then describe an exemplary raffle.

Participants in the system: participants fall generally into three groups:

  • 1) an “upper tier entity,” comprising the entity which is the primary beneficiary of the raffle chance proceeds (e.g., a non-profit group such as the Boy Scouts of America—this is the group for which the funds are primarily being raised). The upper tier entity is one which is allowed by law to conduct raffles. In most states within the United States, at the present time, the upper tier entity is generally confined to a Non-Profit Organization or NPO (recognized as such under the relevant tax laws). However, it is to be understood that the upper tier entity participant in the raffle system of the present invention is any entity that is legally entitled to stage a raffle event.
  • 2) a “lower tier entity,” comprising the entity which is a primary vehicle for raffle chance sales, e.g. a school, and which (in addition to the upper tier entity) benefits as described below from raffle chance sales proceeds. As is later described, the raffle is generally a collaborative effort between the upper and lower tier entities (with the upper and lower tier entities benefitting in different ways, depending upon the stage or time period of the raffle chance sale). It is to be understood that in the presently preferred embodiment, the lower tier entity is generally one which is legally entitled to conduct raffles in the relevant jurisdiction, however the invention is not so limited, and encompasses tiered raffles having other types of lower tier entities. As later described, a point of novelty in the preferred embodiment of the present invention lies in the upper and lower tier entities sharing proceeds from raffle chance sales.
  • 3) “ticket” or raffle chance purchasers, comprising the individuals actually buying the raffle chances, one of whom (or another individual designated by the winning purchaser) will receive the raffle prize. It is understood that references to “tickets” herein are not confined to conventional paper or other tangible tickets, but in addition cover any other form of raffle “chances” purchased for the raffle, including but not limited to those purchased by electronic means (in which case there may be no tangible ticket, only a record, more particularly an electronic record, of same). Also, as previously mentioned, in the preferred embodiment the raffle prize may be transferred to another person by the raffle winner.
    The raffle prize: broadly, the raffle prize is whatever is set out as the item of value which is to be given away to the winner of the raffle. While, in the presently preferred embodiment, the primary intended prize is an educational scholarship, or (depending upon the exact form) a fund placed in trust for the raffle winner's benefit, to be drawn on only for qualified educational-related purposes, the scope of invention is not limited to a scholarship fund, and the prize could be other things of significant economic value. Further, in the presently preferred embodiment, the prize would be an educational fund or scholarship of c. $120,000, which can be applied toward any of several defined educational purposes, including but not limited to use at any accredited institution of higher learning, of the winner's choice. Upon selection of the raffle winner, in the preferred embodiment the raffle prize (e.g. scholarship fund amount) is transferred to a trustee, where the funds would be held in trust until drawn on by the winner or the winner's designee.
    The “tickets” or raffle chances: in the preferred embodiment, there are no physical “tickets” sold, as are commonly used in prior art raffles and the like. Instead, the tickets (or more properly, raffle chances to win) will be entered into an electronic, namely computer-based, system. Paper copies of ticket receipts may be given to purchasers, and other paper documents as appropriate (for record keeping, audit purposes, etc.) could be used by parties involved in the process. Raffle chance purchasers will be able to very simply log onto a computer based system, select the number of chances they desire to purchase, and pay on-line by credit card or other similar means.

It can be readily appreciated that the reduction, if not elimination, of paper tickets is a significant time and expense savings, and the opportunity will be directed to the end user vs. a door-to-door sales effort. It is understood, however, that in certain jurisdictions on-line sales are not permitted; in such cases, paper tickets may still be used. Further, paper copies of tickets (chances to win), or receipt or records of same, may be maintained as necessary or desired, for accounting or other purposes.

It is to be understood that all references to “tickets” herein include, broadly, any chances to win the raffle prize (“raffle chances”), including but not limited to paper tickets, electronic tickets, etc.

How Proceeds from Raffle Chance Sales are Shared

In the preferred embodiment, two different (first and second) time periods are defined for the raffle. In the first time period, the lower tier entity (e.g. a local school) will be a primary raffle chance sales promoter, and in return will receive a portion of all ticket sales proceeds. The balance of raffle chance sales proceeds during this first time period goes to the upper tier entity.

After that first time period, namely in the second time period, the upper tier entity (e.g. the non-profit organization) is free to promote sales on its own, via such promotional efforts as it sees fit (e.g. direct mail, mass media, etc.). In the preferred embodiment, the lower tier entity does not conduct significant raffle chance sales efforts during this second time period. During this second time period, the upper tier entity retains all raffle chance sales proceeds, with no obligation to share same with the lower tier entity.

FIG. 1 shows in simple block format the raffle chance sales efforts and flow of raffle chance sales revenues during the two time periods.

It is understood, however, that the scope of the present invention covers a tiered raffle in which the overall sales period is not divided as described above, that is, has only a single time period; and a tiered raffle in which any greater number (that is, more than two) of subdivisions of the overall sales time period are made.

Description of an Exemplary Raffle Program

While the present invention may take various forms, by way of example the invention will be described in an embodiment wherein the upper tier entity is a non-profit organization, the lower tier entity is a school or number of schools, and the raffle prize is a fund for educational expense purposes (namely, a scholarship fund).

An upper tier entity (e.g. a non-profit organization, “NPO”) enters into an agreement with a lower tier entity (e.g., a school) for a cooperative, tiered raffle, with the prize being a fund to be used for educational purposes.

With reference to FIGS. 1 and 2, the NPO provides the school with raffle chance sales promotional materials, which are then used by students and other persons affiliated with the school to explain the raffle to potential “ticket” or raffle chance purchasers and solicit purchase of raffle chances by them. Volunteers and others at the lower tier entity or institution may assist in the sales effort, which may be by direct mail and other media. The resulting pool of raffle chance purchasers is likely to comprise parents, grandparent, friends and others in close relationship to the students, thereby resulting in a very targeted, specific demographic group (namely, close friends and relatives of students that will have existing or future need of educational funds, for example college bound students), thereby likely resulting in good sales. Of course, the students may promote ticket purchases by anyone.

Preferably, in response to the sales effort (which, as later described, during a first time period is preferably handled solely by the lower tier entity), the raffle chance purchasers then log onto an internet website and make their purchases by secure online means, namely internet orders, by procedures known in the relevant art field. It is recognized, however, that some potential purchasers will not have access to electronic means, or if so do not care to use them for raffle chance purchase purposes. In addition, in some jurisdictions, raffle chances cannot be legally sold by online means. Therefore, in addition to the preferred raffle chance sales by electronic means, it will be possible for purchasers to submit (for example, by mail in) a ticket order form, for manual order input into the system, for example by volunteers and others at the lower tier entity (or upper tier entity). Raffle chance order may also be made by telephone, for example a toll-free answering service. In some cases, entries will be made by third party processors. FIG. 2 shows exemplary ticket or raffle chance processing, where paper documents are generated only as needed for record and audit purposes. As needed or desired, receipts are given to buyers of the raffle chances. If desired, hard copies of tickets can be given to purchasers. In this first time period, the upper tier and lower tier entities share the proceeds from raffle chance sales, on some agreed basis.

After the first time period of raffle chance sales, the lower tier entity substantially ceases its sales effort, and the upper tier entity itself commences a sales effort. In contrast to the first time period, in this second time period the upper tier entity retains all proceeds from raffle chance sales.

At the conclusion of the second time period for raffle chance sales, the raffle chances (designated as “tickets” in FIG. 2) are preferably gathered by auditors, who verify validity of the sales. Next, the audited sales chances (tickets) can be accumulated (in FIG. 2, conceptually put into a “hopper”), from which the selection of the raffle winner is made by random drawing by means known in the relevant art field, whether by electronic means, or (for example) by printing paper copies of the tickets and put into an actual hopper for a person to draw. In the preferred embodiment, the raffle prize amount would then be transferred to a trustee, to be drawn on by the winner for educational purpose expenses, for example expenses at an accredited educational institution of the winner's designation.

As previously described, the raffle winner can designate another person to be the recipient of the raffle prize proceeds; e.g., the raffle winner may designate one or more children or grandchildren as the beneficiaries of the trust. The raffle prize can be applied to costs incurred at any qualified educational institution—for tuition, fees, room and board, books etc., at the college, high school, elementary school, or technical school level. In addition, the raffle prize amount can be applied to payment of existing educational loans; for example, should the raffle winner or designated beneficiary not currently be enrolled, or have plans to enroll, but instead has accumulated debt in the form of educational or “student” loans, then the raffle prize can be applied to same.

Auditing functions as appropriate would be incorporated into the system. The raffle chances (tickets), or records of same, can be stored for audit purposes, by way of example only for a period of 3 years, as shown in FIG. 2.

It is understood that references to physical items, e.g. the “hopper,” are not confined to actual physical items, but represent functions readily performed by electronic means, as is well known in the relevant art.

In general, the electronic/online raffle chance sales, payment, accumulation of raffle chances, and raffle drawing, are all done by electronic means, by methods well known in the relevant art.

The present invention, in its presently preferred embodiment, offers a revenue generating system with minimal costs to both the upper and lower tier entities. The cooperative aspect of the invention results in the upper tier entity (for example, an NPO) effectively using the lower tier entity (for example, a school) as its agents for sales of raffle chances. This cooperative aspect reduces promotional expenses and need for staff/volunteers. Raffle chances are marketed directly to persons having high level of interest and motivation.

By way of further example, with reference to FIGS. 2 and 3, in a presently preferred embodiment the upper tier entity would offer to enter an agreement with a lower tier entity to conduct a tiered raffle system. The lower tier entity would affirmatively elect whether or not to participate (i.e. would positively state whether it was or was not participating). If the lower tier entity elected to participate, it would agree to conduct sales efforts as above described. When purchasers accessed an online raffle chance purchasing website, an affiliation with the lower tier entity would be selected (e.g. by drop down menu), and the lower tier entity would (during at least part of the sales period) thereby receive an agreed share of that raffle chance purchase price. Assuming that the overall sales period is divided, then at the appropriate time the option for the raffle chance purchaser to note an affiliation with a lower tier entity would end. Preferably, the online system would include an option for a raffle chance purchaser to note a relationship with a lower tier entity, even though that lower tier entity did not enter an agreement with the upper tier entity and therefore will not share in raffle chance proceeds. The upper tier entity can thereafter use that information for promotion of future participation by the lower tier entity, by showing that entity the amount of revenues it may have received had it (the lower tier entity) entered an agreement with the upper tier entity. The specific percentages and dollar amounts set forth in FIG. 3 are by way of example only.

Conclusion

While the preceding description contains many specificities, it is to be understood that same are presented only to describe some of the presently preferred embodiments of the invention, and not by way of limitation. Changes can be made to various aspects of the invention, without departing from the scope thereof. For example, the upper tier and lower tier entities can be of various types. The overall time period of raffle chance sales can be only a single period, or can be divided into two or more periods, with agreed raffle chance sales revenues sharing (as between the upper and lower tier entities) during the various time periods. One or more upper tier entities can collaborate with one or more lower tier entities. The raffle prize can take various forms and be of any amount. For example, the raffle prize can be a fund of money, held for disbursement to the raffle winner and/or designee; or can be (effectively) a credit at one or more certain institutions, redeemed by attendance at that institution.

Therefore, the scope of the invention is to be determined not by the illustrative examples set forth above, but by the appended claims and their legal equivalents.