You might not live in New Jersey, but if you’re working hard to fundraise for your nonprofit, what took place in the Garden State this year was important for nonprofits across the country. The reason is that the latest amendment in New Jersey further highlights the fact that some of our states’ legislation is antiquated and there’s an opportunity to upgrade it to help nonprofits nationwide.
On November 2, 2021, New Jersey approved a constitutional amendment
“… TO ALLOW CERTAIN ORGANIZATIONS AUTHORIZED TO CONDUCT GAMES OF CHANCE TO USE PROCEEDS FROM THOSE GAMES TO SUPPORT THE ORGANIZATION.”
As silly as it sounds, prior to this amendment, the state’s constitution stated that only veterans and senior citizen groups were entitled to keep the proceeds of raffles, bingo and other games of chance. This language excluded all other charitable organizations, like volunteer fire & first-aid, educational, religious, fraternal organizations and more.
So we have to ask, why is it that a state that has allowed online casinos since 2013 and is a leader in the legal US gambling market, 8 years to finally allow all charities the ability to fundraise with events like online raffles, bingo and 50/50 raffles.
Unfortunately, this scenario is all too common in many states across the country. And although there’s been an increase in legislation to legalize online gambling across the United States, more often than not, the legislation around “game of chance” to benefit charities is left in the shadows.
However, with this advancement in New Jersey, we should all be hopeful that more states will pay closer attention to whom they’re inhibiting with their legislation around fundraising. As more charities speak up, we’re optimistic that states will start to focus on amendments to existing language that can create a great benefit to those most in need.
If you believe your state can make legislative changes to benefit charities in your area, find a local (in-state) legislator, a member of either the House of Representatives or Senate, who agrees with you and will be willing to introduce a bill to accomplish what you want done. The legislator will become the sponsor of the bill and introduce the bill in either the House or Senate. He or she will take the idea to the Legislative Services Agency staff to draft a bill in the proper legal language. When you meet with the legislator make sure that you have all the facts, to show why a bill of this nature should be passed.
In advance of this, getting a “Petition” going is advantageous. By creating a petition, one can take action today and start advancing their cause. They can also start the process of making a difference. Rallying others and demonstrating support of the change/cause provides perspective and reach. A good place to do this is: Change.org