Why I Will No Longer Run Giveaways

Once upon a time I wrote an article on how to host a blog giveaway. But with all the blog changes I have going on I began doing some research on blog giveaways and realized it is just not something I am comfortable with anymore. Lots of blogs are writing about the subject and I have had a few very smart conversations with friends regarding this topic. Let’s begin with why I personally choose not to run blog giveaways going forward.

  • A month ago a ran a giveaway here on the blog to win a field trip with my family. I got ONE entry! Big ego slap! But I puzzled and I puzzled til my puzzler hurt and then I finally asked some friends why they didn’t enter. The biggest two reasons were that my friends see me all the time anyway and they are totally over blog contests. Fair enough. I realized my readers (friends and family) don’t come here for a chance to win something. That made me happy.
  • I started having conversations with smart friends in social media who brought up the fact that blog contests may not be exactly legal. I did some research (easy to read discussions here, here, here, here, here and here) and found there is a lot of gray in this area. I don’t monetize this blog and don’t really care (other than my ego) how many readers I have so why would I risk the thin ice here?
  • Whispered conversations of how some blog contests are faked. It’s scary to announce a friend won your contest because you are afraid everyone is going to say “its obviously rigged” but then how can you ask your friends to enter? Weird double edged sword there. While 98% (randomly made up number) of all bloggers are completely honest and forthcoming, I don’t want to be lumped in with the few that aren’t because mostly all of my readers are personal friends. I can see the disclosure now: “Entries open to US Residents 18 and older and who don’t know my real hair color“….which is gray, so now you are all not eligible. Sorry!
  • I started getting statements from PR firms to the effect: Please clearly state that this is not our contest. We are just providing you with a prize for your giveaway. Bells went off here.

So after my above reasons some of you may be wondering what laws I am worried about.  Let me try to break it down as best I can and try to help you avoid some of the pitfalls if you run giveaways.  It’s important to understand the terminology used in a lottery (all definitions below from this link. I bolded what is common in blog giveaways.

  • Prize: Anything of value the sponsor awards in a promotion. For example goods/services with a monetary value or items of intrinsic value.
  • Chance: A process beyond the participant’s direct control determines the outcome. A few examples of chance are a random sweepstakes drawing or an instant win/collect and win game; ultimately luck is the deciding factor.
  • Consideration: Anything that requires a participant to expend a monetary amount or significant effort to participate. For example the purchase of a product, multiple store or internet visits, correctly answering trivia questions, downloading a file, or attendance at sales presentations.

So the first thing here is to avoid running an illegal lottery you have to remove one of the above. The easiest is consideration. Don’t ask people to visit another website and return to yours to comment. Make it as easy as someone leaving you a comment with only the contact info necessary to award prize. Eliminate “extra entries”.

“Sweepstakes are regulated by both state and federal law. Sweepstakes (typically random drawings for prizes) possess two of the three characteristics of a lottery: chance and a prize. Therefore, to avoid classification as a lottery, a sweepstakes promotion must not involve consideration.”-Contests and Sweepstakes

Use the third party draw service from random.org This goes beyond the little screenshot image that some bloggers post and keeps a record for winners and losers for 5 years. It documents that every entry was actually given a fair shot and documents date/time.

You could, also, run a contest. Contests remove the element of chance.

“Contests take a number of different forms. Anything where you can display a skill or a special attribute, from cooking and essay contests to cutest kid and bikini contests, is fair game”-Contests & Sweepstakes

My advice here would be to use another judging agent (the contest sponsor or impartial third party) to pick the winner. That way your best friend can enter and if her kid really is deemed to be the cutest by the third party, great. Always include rules! and remember that while the rules in the US are confuzzling enough, I have heard adding Canada into the mix can be really rough.

I have run giveaways doing pretty much everything above. I am not an attorney (not even close) nor should any of this be taken as legal advice. It is just a compilation of reasons why I am no longer comfortable running giveaways. It’s confusing stuff and just not worth it to me considering all the work involved. Before you run your next giveway please follow the advice here from the FTC.

…each state has laws that may require promoters to make disclosures, seek licensing, or post a bond. Since state laws vary, check with the Attorney General’s Office in the state(s) in which you plan to advertise.


To a large extent, state regulation of gambling
and promotions is highly individual. Thus, in preparing
rules, attention to the rules in all jurisdictions
where the promotion will be available is essential.
Given prevailing legislation and rules in a majority
of states, however, sweepstakes rules should generally
contain at least the following elements:
A statement that no purchase is necessary to
enter or win;
Details of entry procedures;
Any limits on the number of times a person
can enter (for example, one entry per person
or household);
The closing date of the sweepstakes and any
other relevant deadlines;

Loot Lovin Linky-Online Contest Links

I am no longer hosting a weekly linky because there is a much better place to promote your giveaways. You can promote them on the Mom It Forward Forums anytime for free. You do have to register once, but it is quick, easy and free and there are lots of benefits to take a minute to get registered-like exclusive giveaways and blogger opportunities for forum members in addition to the awesome linky love.

Making Another Teachers Day Better!

Last week I had the privilege of co-hosting an amazing event here in Denver where we nominated a teacher to win a HUGE box of donated classroom supplies. I will be announcing the winner of that contest here shortly but wanted to share another great contest for a local teacher from A Day Made Better! As a former 4th grade teacher, it is really important to me that people realize just what a problem this is. There are teachers that are having to spend their very small paychecks just to buy Kleenex for their classrooms. It is CRAZY!

Mark Indelicato-OfficeMax-A Day Made Better-Education-School SuppliesDid you know teachers spend an average of $1200 of their own money on classroom supplies each year? That’s $4 billion annually! That’s why OfficeMax joined with Adopt-A-Classroom to create “A Day Made Better“—a national cause event founded to erase teacher-funded classrooms. This year, “A Day Made Better” will take place on October 6 where 1,000 teachers will be surprised in their classrooms each with $1,000 worth of essential supplies from OfficeMax. That’s more than one million dollars donated to help teachers! Principals at needy schools nominated the teachers for demonstrating dedication, innovation, and passion.

To pay-it-forward, OfficeMax and Mom It Forward have teamed up to create awareness about the issue of teacher-funded classrooms and to give you the opportunity to get involved and help a teacher in your community on behalf of the “A Day Made Better.” Here’s how…

Simply nominate a teacher of your choice to win this giveaway by following the entry requirements. Be sure to check out the prize and criteria!


One exceptional teacher will receive a ONE HUNDRED DOLLAR gift card to OfficeMax. This can go a long way when it comes to classroom supplies!


Teacher-Education-OfficeMax-A Day Made BetterThis is a giveaway that is meant to be given away. What does that mean? You get to nominate a teacher by sharing why this person is exceptional and deserving of this giveaway. The best part, every story told helps raise awareness in an effort to erase teacher-funded classrooms. The winning teacher will be chosen based on the following criteria, so be sure to tell us why your teacher is most deserving:

  • Dedication: does everything in his/her power to deliver the best possible education for his/her students.
  • Innovation: thinks outside the box and engages his/her students through creative learning activities & programs.
  • Passion: expresses a genuine passion for education and shares this enthusiasm in the classroom.
  • Need: demonstrates a need for essential classroom supplies.

Entry Requirements

To enter your teacher, you are required to do two things.

(Note: post a separate comment for each entry.)

1. Nominate them through a blog post, a comment here or on Whrrl.

Leave me a comment with the teacher you are nominating and why. Please give us much detail about why the teacher deserves to win in your comment!

Write a post on your blog.

  • You can include photos, video, etc. but please stay under 400 words or 3 minutes.
  • Please include these links: http://adaymadebetter.com or @adaymadebetter.
  • Include a link to your post in the comments section.

Create a story on Whrrl.com.

  • Go to our custom Whrrl page at http://whrrl.com/search?q=omx, click “Start A Story” and upload photos and text about why your teacher is most deserving.
  • Be sure to include the #omx hashtag in the text of your story.
  • Post a link to your Whrrl story in the comments section.

You can see the story of the event I held here:

2. Post these messages on Facebook and/or Twitter.

(Note: Be sure to leave comments here with links to your messages.)
  • Teachers spend avg $1200 of own $$ on school supplies annually! Help erase teacher-funded classrooms. http://bit.ly/3VUNvC PLS RT #omx
  • Nominate a teacher 2 win $100 in OfficeMax classroom supplies. Enter here: PUT YOUR POST URL HERE PLS RT #omx
  • Join the “A Day Made Better” movement to end teacher-funded classrooms at http://bit.ly/UJ3LF #omx

More than 30 sites are participating in this campaign between now and Sunday, October 4. Visit http://momitforward.com for a list of all the giveaways! You may enter a different teacher on every site, but you may only win once!

Thanks so much for helping pay-it-forward to teachers in your community! Please join us on Tuesdays, September 22 and 29 from 9 to 11 pm ET for Girls Night Out (#gno) on Twitter if you’d like to meet the team behind the cause: @officemax, @adaymadebetter and @Adopt_Classroom. Hope to see you there!

Fine Print

Entries are due Sunday, October 4 by midnight PDT. No purchase necessary to enter. Winners will be selected by me based on the entry that in my opinion meets the above criteria. OfficeMax, Adopt-A-Classroom and Mom It Forward play no part in choosing the winner of this giveaway. OfficeMax, Adopt-A-Classroom, and Mom It Forward employees are ineligible to enter. In a spirit of fairness, my personal friends and family members are also ineligible. Entries that do not follow all of the entry requirements will not be considered. The winner will be notified and have 24 hours to confirm receipt of the email. If no response is received within 24 hours, another winner will be selected. Open to participants in the U.S. 18 years and older.