The Nonprofit Ethicist | Taking Chances on Raffles

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NPQ's The Ethicist

Dear Nonprofit Ethicist,

Should board members be permitted to purchase tickets for a raffle in which an organization participates or it sponsors?

Taking a Chance


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Dear Taking a Chance,

Since board members cannot influence a raffle’s outcome, they seemingly should have the same opportunity to win as anyone else. Unfortunately for them, ethics requires avoiding the appearance of impropriety. If board members were to win the raffle, others might assume the game was rigged.

Follow the example of for-profit companies that use games of chance to promote their products and prohibit employees and their families from participating. The same rule should apply to volunteer board members.

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