Guide To Winning Sweepstakes And Contests

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People tend to confuse sweepstakes and contests, so let’s clear up the difference between the two right away. While we’re at it, we’ll briefly discuss raffles as well. A sweepstakes is a game of chance, and your entry will be chosen solely based on the luck of the draw. It is illegal for any entrant to be charged to enter a sweepstakes, or to receive their prize for doing so. If you are asked to pay to enter or for prize delivery — it’s a sweepstakes scam. These are rare, but they do exist.

The only entry category which permits charging to enter is a raffle, and legal raffles can only be run only under the auspices of nonprofits recognized by the IRS as a charity.

A contest is similar to a sweepstakes in that it is likewise illegal to charge the entrant to receive their prize or to enter. However, the difference between a sweepstakes and a contest is important — even if it’s not really understood by many people, and the terms are used interchangeably. Contests require you to do something in order to win the prize, and it is considered a judged entry whereby you compete with other entrants for the prize based on your skills. This could be a contest judged by the official judges or by the visitors of the site.

Types of sweepstakes and contests

People all over the world enter giveaways, but the vast majority of them are run for and entered by people in the United States. Canada has the second largest number of sweepstakes and contests, followed by the UK which calls them “competitions.” Canadians are lucky because they are able to win wonderful prizes and not pay tax on their wins. However, in order to qualify for a Canadian giveaway win they must take a skill test that validates their entry. Usually, it’s a simple math question that anybody could answer correctly.

Instant Win Sweepstakes are by far the most popular sweepstakes because of the immediate feedback that you won (or you didn’t). Instant win sweepstakes and contests tend to be sponsored by large companies, such as fast food companies, auto makers, mass-market retailers and large food manufacturers such as General Foods and Kraft Foods. Very often there’s a game to play, but playing the game is usually not necessary to enter. If you won an instant win, you would most likely receive an email telling you about your win.

sweepstakes and contests

UPS prize delivery

Contests require you to do something in order to win the prize, and it is considered a judged entry whereby you compete with other entrants for the prize.

The second most common sweepstakes and contests is the one time entry for everything imaginable, such as trips, cash and electronics. This type of entry can be one time per person, email or household. When the judging agency says one time, they mean one time. Entering again using a different email address could disqualify you, so be sure to read the rules to be sure you’re not wasting your efforts by entering multiple times. Some sweepstakes and contests administrators view this as cheating.

There are also many weekly sweepstakes, monthly sweepstakes and newsletter giveaways that require you stay subscribed to the mailing list to enter.

Blog giveaways are the newest type of sweepstakes and contests, and you could win them often by participating at websites that want you to post at a blog, sign up for the newsletter, look at the sponsor’s site and Tweet that you entered. Many people don’t care to go through this much trouble to enter, making blog giveaway odds good for you. Try a few if you like the prize and feel like participating.

Facebook and Twitter giveaways are also increasing in popularity. The variety and size of prizes offered at both sites is growing, with plenty of great giveaways, both large and small, running both nationwide and targeted to people in local markets. Very often you are required to “Like” a sponsor’s Facebook page to enter their giveaway. Twitter contests require that you tweet about the competition in order to win.

Unlimited entry is a category that sometimes defies categorization. Very often these tend to be contests, and you would be permitted to enter yourself as many times as you care to. If it’s a recipe, photo, or video contest, the sponsor will accept multiple submissions from you. Like the blog contests, your odds are pretty good when entering judged competitions, because most people don’t want to take the trouble to enter creative contests. A little extra effort can make it worth you while.

Sponsors of Sweepstakes and Contests

Every giveaway has a sweepstakes administration, also called a judging agency, that decides who can enter their sweepstakes, what the prize or prizes will be, how long the entry period will last, the location(s) they will accept entries from and ship prizes to and terms of disqualification. Enforcing these limitations is their right — as long as the giveaways rules follow local government laws.

The contest administrators are also permitted to end their giveaway early or to extend it if they please. Usually this is done to increase the pool of entrants. Disqualifiers and other legalese appear in the sweepstakes and contest rules (usually), and the rules are binding for both sweepstakes administration and the people who enter them.

Winning Sweepstakes And Contests

Finally, winners of sweepstakes and contests are generally emailed by the judging agency to notify them, and it’s important to respond in a timely manner — usually within 48 hours. Remember to create mail filters that will sort your notifications into a folder that will help you find them and not miss out on your wins.

Occasionally, winners are notified via phone or snail mail, but this is highly unusual. More often than that, winners receive their prizes unannounced at their doorsteps, as a fun surprise win.

Sweepstakes and contests as a hobby is growing exponentially in popularity, and there’s no sign of this growth slowing down. More people than ever are entering them, so be sure to follow the rules and try some judged contests to help improve your odds of winning.

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