New Jersey Updates Fundraising Laws
What took place in the Garden State this year was important for nonprofits across the country. The reason is that their latest amendment highlights how many states’ legislation is antiquated. By taking simple steps, there’s an opportunity to upgrade outdated laws to help charities and nonprofits in your state, and nationwide.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.
So we have to ask… Why has New Jersey, the leader in legal the US gambling market, allowed online casinos since 2013 but limited same opportunity for non-profits to fundraise with events like online raffles, bingo and 50/50 raffles?
Why This Is Important
Unfortunately, this scenario is all too common in many states across the country. Many of these laws were put in place decades ago and have just been overlooked. And while there’s been an increase in legislation to legalize online gambling across the United States, in many cases, 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.
Steps to Help Your State Change Laws on Fundraising
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. Speak with them to see if they agree and would 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. Referencing New Jersey’s amendment is a good place to start.
In advance of this, getting a “Petition” going is advantageous. By creating a petition, one can take action today and start advancing their cause. You 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
In the meantime, let’s thank New Jersey for taking the necessary steps to assist non-profits reach their fundraising goals.