Opinion: No Rotary ‘Great Car Raffle’ in 2016
Tribune Guest Columnist
The members of the Rotary Club of South Lake Tahoe, and I, are sad to announce that we will be unable to conduct the Great Car Raffle in 2016, a major fundraiser we’ve held for many years in support of community projects, youth scholarships, youth leadership training, environmental education and more. This is due to California State law’s stringent requirements for nonprofit charities.
THE DILEMMA WE FACE
After payment of the Great Car Raffle grand prize of $25,000 and the costs to conduct the raffle, the club is required under state law to pay out more money than it collects under the so-called 90-10 rule. The club has managed in past years to operate the raffle by using reserve funds, and other fundraising events, but unfortunately we can no longer do so.
ONE SET OF STATE RULES FOR RAFFLES
Coincidentally, the charitable raffle law was amended in 2015 (SB 549) by the legislature and approved by the governor to allow professional sports teams to operate raffles with far less stringent requirements and essentially have a 50-50 rule. We are heartened by this move, and we are now seeking to provide this same formula to all charitable raffles in California that do charity work through new legislation. Our board and I believe we have a window of opportunity to level the playing field for conducting raffles. State Senator Gaines and Assemblyman Bigelow have been asked for their support by our Rotary Club, Fifth District Supervisor Novasel, and soon we hope by the Lake Tahoe Community College Board and South Lake Tahoe City Council.
THE ROTARY CLUB SUPPORTS THE COMMUNITY
The Rotary Club of South Lake Tahoe will be contributing $48,600 this year (2015-16) to local projects, youth scholarships, environmental learning — among others — and we will be able to do so until July 2016. The board of directors and a special club fundraising committee are examining other fundraising ideas so that we can continue a vigorous community giving campaign while we seek the support of our assemblyman and state senator and other leaders for a legislative remedy.
The inability to conduct the Great Car Raffle negatively impacts community organizations and individuals who have historically depended on our support. If professional sports organizations are given less restrictive rules to operate a raffle, charities throughout the state should be given the same rules.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
You can help us by contacting Governor Brown and your assemblyman and state senator, urging them to sponsor and/or support legislation to create a level playing field for the operation of raffles in California for real charity providers. They can be reached as follows:
Governor Jerry Brown, State Capitol, Suite 1173, Sacramento, CA 95814, 916-445-2841 (phone), 916-558-3160 (fax)
State Senator Ted Gaines, State Capitol, Suite 3070, Sacramento, CA 95814, 916-651-4001 (phone), 916-651-4901 and 916-319-2105 (fax)
Assemblyman Frank Bigelow, State Capitol, P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249, 916-319-2005 (phone)
Finally, if people and/or business owners and operators are interested in supporting the club’s charitable work in our community, please send your donation to the Rotary Club of South Lake Tahoe at P.O. Box 19517, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96151.
The board of directors, all club members and I express our appreciation and thanks to the community, our local business owners and operators and our other friends of Rotary for their past support of the Great Car Raffle.
With your help and the support of our elected leaders, we hope to be able once again to resume this important community fundraising activity in support of our community.
David M. Jinkens is president of Rotary Club of South Lake Tahoe, California. He can be reached at 530-545-1218.
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