1. Read carefully any charity appeal in the form of a sweepstakes. Usually included are a description of the charity and its programs, an explanation of the sweepstakes game with rules and regulations for contestants, and a pre-coded "entry certificate." Your entry may be discarded if the rules are not followed to the letter.
2. Sweepstakes that advertise "pre-selected winners" are usually required to distribute prizes only to those pre-selected winners who respond.
3. Consider the odds. Although a sweepstakes letter indicates "you're a winner," it’s unlikely that you have won the "grand prize." For a national direct mail campaign, a charitable organization may mail from a half million to ten million or more letters.
4. Both donor and non-donor sweepstakes participants have an equal chance of winning a prize. Postal statutes make it illegal to require a donation to enter a sweepstakes conducted through the mail.
5. Consider your interest in the charity's work before making a donation. Don’t hesitate to request additional information from the charity about its programs and finances. Check with BBB for a charity report.