For a second year Community Action Marin, a San Rafael-based nonprofit, is offering a raffle to help fund its programs for the poor by offering raffle ticket buyers the chance to win a San Rafael “dream home” priced at $2 million. Last year’s winner chose the cash over the house that was priced at $2.1 million. At the bottom of this post is all the information you’ll need to participate in this event.
Community Action Marin – which operates 15 programs that focus on mental health services, early childhood development, HIV/AIDS, food programs, the homeless and more. ”The fact that the local anti-poverty agency is raffling off a $2.1 million house is a little ironic,” said Gail Theller, the agency’s exective director. But cuts in funding by the Marin Community Foundation, the federal government and the state government left Community Action Marin with little choice, Theller said.
The nonprofit lost about $200,000 a year in funding from the Marin Community Foundation recently when the foundation’s trustees decided to take money away from ongoing programs so they could finance new initiatives. In addition, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger eliminated funding for a homeless program that served the mentally ill when he sliced $703 million in health spending from the budget. That move cut $500,000 a year from Community Action Marin’s budget, Theller said.
Stacy Swor, a Mill Valley lawyer who has been on the agency’s board for 18 years, said, “The truth of the matter is we’re being bled to death. Believe me, we’ve tried everything. Bake sales and car washes just don’t do it these days. ”People are willing to support a charity if they can see something for their money,” Swor said. “What we’re faced with is ongoing operational expenses, and those are expenses that are just about to get contributions for.”
Although last year was the first time that a nonprofit in Northern California has used such a raffle to generate revenue, the practice has gained popularity in Southern California, where it has been used by St. Jude Medical Center, school districts and cultural organizations, Theller said. A law passed by the California Legislature in 2001 made it legal for nonprofits to conduct such raffles.
Still, the agency took no chances, Theller said. It checked with the state attorney general’s office and the Marin County district attorney before proceeding with the raffle.
Last year Community Action Marin hired Neal Martin, a former high school school teacher who oversaw a similar raffle for a college prepatory school in Watsonville, to manage the raffle. Mount Madonna School sold 19,000 raffle tickets costing $150 each and raised about $1 million for the school while paying out a grand prize of about $1 million, Martin said. Community Action Marin expects to do better than that.
”We are convinced we are going to net $2.2 million,” Theller said last year. This year, the same house, is offered in the raffle. (Last year the winner chose the cash option)
Because Community Action Marin is also charging $150 per raffle ticket, it needs to sell 35,000 tickets to meet their goals. The prizes will be paid for with proceeds from ticket sales. If fewer tickets are sold than expected, Community Action Marin has reserved the right to reduce the size of the grand prize – to an even split of the raffle’s total profits. The grand prize winner also has the option of a $1.6 million cash prize in lieu of the “dream house.”
Theller said she found the house at 204 Southern Heights Blvd. in San Rafael by mailing letters to 100 people who were trying to sell homes in Marin. If the grand prize winner does opt for the cash, the owner of the house will be paid for holding the house out of the market for six months, Theller said. She declined to say how much.
Theller said she thought it would be difficult finding a homeowner willing to take their house off the market for so long, but half of the people contacted expressed interest. The owner of the San Rafael house had priced the home at $2 million, and will be paid that amount if the prize winner chooses the house.
People who buy the raffle tickets will know that they’re giving to a worthy cause, Martin said. ”It’s not a mystery – unlike the state lottery where the funds from the state lottery are going to end up being budgeted in the next fiscal year,” Martin said.
Nevertheless, raffle winners will get no special treatment from the Internal Revenue Service. Like any raffle or lottery, prizes over $5,000 are subject to a 25 percent government tax, Martin said.
(Some of the information for this post was written by Richard Halstead and was posted on the Marin Independent Journals web site: 9/6/2007)COMMUNITY ACTION MARIN’S ‘DREAM HOME’ RAFFLE ADDRESS: 204 Southern Heights Blvd., San Rafael
SIZE: 4,400 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 4.5 bathrooms; quarter-acre lot
DESCRIPTION: Bay views, chef’s kitchen, lush landscaping, library suite, all-new appliances, infinity pool, gated entry
COST OF RAFFLE TICKET: $150
HOW TO ENTER: By phone, 800-431-5166; by mail, CAM Dream House Raffle, 29 Mary St., San Rafael, CA 91949; or by fax at 415-738-7664. For More information click: Marin County Dream House Raffle