Railway Preservation News

Lotteries As A Fund Raising Vehicle?
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Author:  Bruce Duensing [ Sat Jan 19, 2013 12:38 pm ]
Post subject:  Lotteries As A Fund Raising Vehicle?

After reading yet another report on the disbursement of lottery funds from across the pond ear marked for historic railway preservation, would such a lottery outside of national government purview stand a reasonable chance of success? Perhaps a confederation of museums and other organisations with corporate sponsors could band together to gather up this concept or has it been tried on a more regional or local basis? I cannot recall this fund raising device having been tried here. Hmmm..it seems doable but then the entire concept gets bogged down in who gets what for the effort. A arm's length committee awarding funds would seem prone to political backbiting. How is this managed across the pond?

Author:  Richard Glueck [ Sat Jan 19, 2013 5:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lotteries As A Fund Raising Vehicle?

Lotteries need to be scrutinized carefully before the first ticket is sold. Unlike a 50/50 chance, some lotteries fall under tax and regulation guidelines in some states.

Author:  Alexander D. Mitchell IV [ Mon Jan 21, 2013 12:23 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Lotteries As A Fund Raising Vehicle?

Lotteries or raffles are (or, at least, were) quite commonly used by British rail/loco preservation groups as fundraisers. Until I told them to stop wasting their postage, my periodicals from the British groups I belong to would come with annual solicitations for lotteries where an annual subscription would give you a chance for a monthly drawing for a cash prize, and/or raffle tickets we could sell just like your local civic organization or church or school fundraiser.

This, of course, has no relation whatsoever to the Heritage Lottery Fund, nor with anything remotely applicable in North America by law or custom.

I know of one NRHS chapter that used to, at every meeting, do a cash raffle for one or two nice prizes (a recently-published book, item of rail ephemera, recently-replaced employee timetable, etc.) plus a pile of other "consolation prizes"--back issues of magazines, stacks of surplus postcards, bags of homemade cookies, whatever. It was usually good for raising a hundred or so dollars a meeting, even more if you had two people that really wanted that book, ETT, or whatever.

Author:  robertmacdowell [ Mon Jan 21, 2013 12:40 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Lotteries As A Fund Raising Vehicle?

Michigan permits nonprofits to do "charity" bingo and other gaming by sponsoring "nights" at some card rooms. Under state law each charity is allowed to do this 4 nights a year. Some of the card rooms exist for no other purpose but this. Surely Michigan is not the only such state.

The IRS pays very close attention to nonprofits who engage in gambling. Vis-a-vis this Michigan "institution" of charity gambling, my lay understanding is that there is some sort of structuring, akin to a donor advised fund, which causes the nonprofit's involvement to be "at arm's length" and thus shields it from whatever issue the IRS is concerned about. I'm wild-guessing on this, I have not done the research to support any of this, I just assume that it does, because it would defeat the purpose if it did not.

Edit: the latter applies only to Michigan's institution

Author:  Heavenrich [ Mon Jan 21, 2013 8:57 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Lotteries As A Fund Raising Vehicle?

While it's a common practice, anyone serious about doing something like this should investigate the state licensing and reporting requirements first.

As already mentioned, IRS does have reporting requirements on form 990 which has to be made available to anyone who requests one.

Bob H

Author:  Mark Z. Yerkes [ Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lotteries As A Fund Raising Vehicle?

Great Britain has a Heritage Lottery Fund, which comes out of the National Lottery. 28 pence out of every pound paid to the National Lottery is put aside for "good causes," of which the HLF is part. Since it's inception in 1994, the HLF has allocated over 4 billion pounds to over 33,000 groups, giving as much as 25 million pounds at a clip to larger groups. 4 billion pounds over the course of a little less than 20 years.

I hear things like that, and I think back to that $250 million Mega Millions Lottery we had a couple months ago. If a similar situation existed in the US, and 28 cents of every dollar from that lottery went to supporting heritage and history in this country, that would've been $70 million towards heritage. SEVENTY MILLION!!! That would restore roughly 50 steam locomotives in this country, OFF OF ONE LOTTERY!

I do acknowledge that, were something like this happen in this US, not all that money would go to railroad preservation. I am simply making a point.

Author:  Bruce Duensing [ Tue Jan 22, 2013 10:00 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Lotteries As A Fund Raising Vehicle?

In regard to a certain percentage of a potential national lottery not being utilized for railway preservation in this country should one be established, I would agree that this would be the case. The importance of the historical fabric of rails is hiding in plain sight under the radar. What is both laudable and amazing is how much has been accomplished in this environment strictly as a grass roots movement.
What is interesting though is what would be missing to make this occur which I would tend to think is the lack of a national influence due to funding and lobbying, promotional efforts political efforts that are mutually exclusive being independent of one another, pretty scatter-shot in approach and even regionally, very local.
The recent merging of private passenger car owners and the rail museum organisation is an interesting development in this regard toward developing a national voice. It will be equally interesting to see what if any lobbying efforts they undertake as a national organisation of significant size.
The broad spectrum of preservation interests seem to have expanded recently to recognize the niche of rail history and many a station has been readapted renovated etc. Could this be harnessed nationally?
On one side I think so and on the other, there is no one I can think of that could both think large enough in visionary terms to drudge through all the obstacles political and otherwise. Money, funding is the bottom line and while this is the axis of many a conversation here, new approaches to fund raising being discussed are nil. So, it seems to go round in a Catch-22 scenario. Is there a way to increase fund raising? A national effort seems to be the way out. Is the glass half empty or half full? I can think of many a corporate or endowment potential donor who would be likely to contribute to a non profit effort if and that's a big if, if there was a significantly large enough and credible and visible enough national organisation and effort to funnel contributions through.

Author:  Dave [ Tue Jan 22, 2013 11:11 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Lotteries As A Fund Raising Vehicle?

What's missing is a cultural imperative in legitimate history, not nationalistic mythology.

We're going through a local debate about or city and county funding renovation to a football stadium now. The team owner and players are millionaires several times over, and COULD pay the cost themselves.......and our civic budgets can't keep the libraries open full time. We opened a NASCAR hall of fame that has so far failed to even cover its operating costs, much less recover the capital invested. We can't adequately cover the cost of building a computer system to track and control our mental health system so running the system was just awarded to an entity from a rural Eastern NC hospital a long way from here......And, we're told that the economic impapct of taxpayers covering the cost of additional debt to support the renovation will be of much greater benefit.....unless, of course, the team owners take their business to another city, as they refuse to pledge and bond themselves to stay here even if we do pony up. By the way, the team sucks.....ALL our teams suck.

WHY do we as a culture care more about grown men playing games thet revolve around glandular cases or mesomorphs manipulating inflated animal organs around and rednecks driving around in circles all day getting nowhere than in intellectual development and in adequately providing for those of us who need assistance in very real ways?

In a rational society this wouldn't even be under consideration. What hope do we have in making industrial history interpretation fundworthy?


Author:  Bruce Duensing [ Tue Jan 22, 2013 1:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lotteries As A Fund Raising Vehicle?

Living about a half hour South of Charlotte NC, I would concur that the issue of tax funding as a valuation of what defines making an area sell-able to potential employers in terms of cultural assets as defined not by the community but by business leaders can be divisive. Its a cookie cutter mentality. But then we are not talking of tax contributions from the public pot in terms of a voluntary participation in a lottery.
I think that rail related entities contributing donations to make a lottery effective in terms of a tax break seems to have the potential for appeal in a way that tax dollars for subsidizing sports teams would not.
Charlotte has a notorious history of having carpet bombed their historic fabric leaving the downtown a lifeless concrete plaza lacking any destination outside of either overpriced business lunches or monolithic cubes in the rows of bank buildings. A bad example to cite?
Even the economic devastation in Detroit has not managed to damper the movement toward the renovation and preservation of their former Union Station as part of the historic fabric of the community. To me whats missing is the recognition what made the stations necessary which is a indivisible reality yet to be fully recognized formally, the trains that moved literally millions. There seems to be an imbalance in this separation of the two due to one half of the equation being under the radar and woefully underfunded and unorganised nationally. To become part of the larger national preservation community would be a major achievement for what is now a sort of backwater niche interest. I think it's doable being a pragmatic optimist probably colors my vision.

Author:  Dave [ Tue Jan 22, 2013 2:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lotteries As A Fund Raising Vehicle?

The same decision makers decide whether or not to have a lottery or what to fund if they do decide to have one. Our lottery supports "education." Huh? No issue from my POV in a lottery (tax on stupidity) being used to make people smarter.....but despite its rationale, we're getting demonstrably dumber. Colorado used theirs for environmental projects. That money did some verifiable good. Not as much as a direct donation to the state parks might have....but that's another issue.

England hasn't got a lot to sell apart from history right now. Their citizens love it, live with a constant exposure to it, and assume it is worthy of supporting. The lottery only makes it a bit more fun. Of course, they have a couple millenia of recorded and built environment available, while we're just about 350 years old.

So, I'm still stuck on cultural problems being our bane, and the comparison with the UK isn't particularly valid given those differences. Their private sector also supports preservation much more than we do.

Bruce, we're going to start a 5 year funding and restoration project for restoring Cliffside 110 this year - we'd welcome your assistance if you are so inclined. Drop me a PM and I'll get you in the loop.


Author:  Bruce Duensing [ Tue Jan 22, 2013 2:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lotteries As A Fund Raising Vehicle?

I am scheduled for family errands this afternoon but will send a PM this afternoon or as late as this evening. Id be interested in more details and specifics.

Author:  bigjim4life [ Wed Jan 31, 2018 12:59 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lotteries As A Fund Raising Vehicle?

Normally I don't resurrect old topics like this, but this is something that I've been pondering for a little while now. My question is not in regards to forming a "national heritage lottery", or anything large-scale, but rather, small-scale efforts.

Instead of smaller railroads and museums wondering why there isn't some big, grand national lottery similar to the UK - why not focus on occasionally running 50/50's on trains, or raffles for gift shop prizes/rare items, etc, or even, during the fall/winter months, weekly football "pick-ems"?

After investigating, of course, the legality and any potential hurdles of doing so, on certain days throughout the year, do an on-train 50/50 for each departure that day (so long as the trip is long enough to sell tickets/collect cash/draw tickets and announce the winner)? Granted, it might not be a ton of money, but people generally like to win cash, give up a few bucks for the chance to win more money, and it would add some funds to your railroad...

In addition to asking your patrons to go to a GoFundMe page and such to donate there, do something smaller at your museum/rail line where people have a chance to win something. So my question is - why not? Do any railroads/museums currently do things similar to these, and how successful are they?

Author:  WVNorthern [ Wed Jan 31, 2018 1:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lotteries As A Fund Raising Vehicle?

I was thinking along the same lines as Big Jim regarding ex-C&O 1309's plight. I am a "grass roots" supporter of the Crazy Horse Memorial in South Dakota (a mountain being carved in-the-round honoring Crazy Horse for those unfamiliar with the project). They are a non-profit and deliberately have avoided government funding. For several years, a Harley-Davidson dealer would donate a bike (tax deductible I imagine) and the Memorial would sell raffle tickets on it. It didn't make tons of money, but all proceeds went toward funding their mountain carving.


Author:  areibel [ Wed Jan 31, 2018 2:07 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lotteries As A Fund Raising Vehicle?

The biggest problem is while the "big" US lotteries are almost nation wide each individual state has different laws. I was president of a volunteer fire department that counted on a lot of different charitable events for funding and the laws have changed drastically in the last 10-20 years.
For the State of PA to do anything you need a county issued "small games of chance" license, that covers you 50/50 or raffle drawing. If you're doing Bingo, you need a similar but separate Bingo license. And there are specific amounts that can be paid out, and must be paid out (your profit can't be more than 27%, I believe). The state seems to be pretty good at protecting their own gambling, be it the PA Lottery (that funds senior citizen related programs) and the casino gambling and horse racing. And they do have PA State troopers that will spot check what you are doing. Compared to our neighbor Ohio we were really limited in what we could make. I can't see PA doing anything remotely like the British program, they claim to have lost money last year on the PA Lottery so tehy're not going to be in much of a giving mood.

Author:  DJSullivan [ Wed Jan 31, 2018 9:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lotteries As A Fund Raising Vehicle?

I was once a volunteer fireman in one of the few volunteer companies that received absolutely no public funding. We struggled along for years with our wives making and selling blackberry pies. Then we discovered bingo. We had a new building within a year. Pretty amazing.

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