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How Major League Baseball Partners With Community With a Unique Raffle by Lauren Blackwell

How Major League Baseball Partners With Community With a Unique Raffle by Lauren Blackwell



According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, more than 1.5 million nonprofit organizations are registered in the United States. Making money to cover expenses is essential to survival of these organizations. However, sometimes a nonprofit’s activities are not lucrative enough to substantiate the organization’s operations and mission.


In many situations, nonprofits rely on grants and outside funding to continue serving the public. One of the most beneficial ways that nonprofits have earned this income is by the support of local professional sports teams. Major League Baseball is a prime example of the partnership between nonprofits and community support.


Almost every organization has it’s own form of giving back to the community. For example, the Philadelphia Phillies support causes through Phillies Charities, Inc.  The St. Louis Cardinals help the city of St. Louis through their version, Cardinals Care. While community events and fundraisers play an important role, one of the most efficient and profitable features these organizations possess, is the implementation of a 50/50 raffle or “split-the-pot.”


These raffles are exactly what the name states. A “pot” or “pool” of money is collected via selling raffle tickets, and is later split 50/50 between the winner and the organizations charitable foundation. These raffles, held in nearly 30 states, have provided hundreds of thousands of dollars that nonprofits would not have had access to without.


According to the team website, in 2014 the Kansas City Royals sold 50/50 raffle tickets from the time the stadium gates opened until the last out of the 6th inning. In the 2014 season alone, Royals Charities raised $645,000 from the proceeds to support charities across the Kansas City area.  In 2015, according to numbers posted on the team website, Royals Charities was able to provide just over $1 million to nonprofits around the Kansas City area, with certain games in October (during their postseason run) earning upwards of $50,000 in one game alone.  These funds later went to organizations to support children, education, youth baseball/softball and military in and around Kansas City, thus potentially changing the lives of members of the community forever.


Growing up in a state that has allowed these raffles for as long as I can remember (Illinois), it was part of a sporting event that was rarely ignored by fans in attendance. With the passing of Proposition 4 in the recent election in Texas, professional sports teams in Texas will now be allowed to conduct their own 50/50 raffles once per game.


In particular the Houston Astros hope to use the 50/50 raffle method to generate more funding for their official team charity, The Astros Foundation. Their main initiatives include the Astros Urban Youth Academy and the Astros RBI Program (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities). Through these initiatives, free baseball and softball instruction is provided to at-risk youth in Houston, as well as life-skills training and academic support. Though critics worry 50/50 raffles will open the door to an expansion of gambling in states that prohibit such, supporters believe these raffles play an integral role in the growth of community. Houston Astros President, Reid Ryan said it the best, simply stating, “We want to have the ability to give back to the communities we serve.”

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Contributed by Lauren Blackwell

December 21, 2015