The Macs » Blog

any ideas?

I hate to start the week off with bad news.
But, I’ve got some.
I received an e-mail from the PayPal police this weekend.
That is never good.
Apparently my raffle violates the gambling section
under their acceptable use policy.
I didn’t know a raffle would be considered gambling.
But it is.
After all it is for a really good cause.
Doesn’t he know that?
The e-mail said that I had to remove my donation button immediately.
So, I called to see if there was any way around it.
There isn’t.
I tried.
Really hard.
I asked if I could have a disclaimer at the bottom of the raffle
that said that you didn’t have to donate to participate in the raffle.
Mr. PayPal police said no.
It is still considered gambling.
I asked if I could keep the donate button and have giveaways instead.
Totally separate.
People could still donate.
It would not be linked to the giveaway at all.
Surely giveaways aren’t considered gambling.
Mr. PayPal police said no again.
He said that in order to accept donations
I would have to get approved as a non-profit organization.
I tried.

So, now I need your help.
What should I do?

My guest room bed is covered with items that are supposed to be raffled.
There are some awesome things to giveaway.
And I know you want to see them too.
Do you know of another way I could accept donations?
Any ideas?

I would love to hear your suggestions.
After all, with how well Miss Calla has been doing,
she could be coming home soon.

Oh, and in case you are wondering.
All the donations received so far are fine.
We still have raised $2000 for Calla and her family.
And for that I am very thankful.

  • Susan - I was going to suggest putting them for sale in your etsy store…but I assume there would be a fee involved and of course the paypal fees. However as fast as your store sells out, I’d have to say it would probably go over well, just not sure about the amount you would raise vs. the raffle. Ebay would be another option??? I hope someone has a good idea. So sad that you are in essence punished for doing good.ReplyCancel

  • Anonymous - I’ve seen where people have “auctioned off” items to the highest bidder. You may want to consider doing that. It would still be a great way to raise money. Good Luck!ReplyCancel

  • Erin - Can you auction them off?ReplyCancel

  • E @ Oh! Apostrophe - What if there was a separate way for people to donate? Banks sometimes set up accounts/online sites for donations, no? Then people could comment saying that they had donated, and that would enter them? It wouldn’t involve PayPal so I don’t see how they could prevent it?ReplyCancel

  • jen - paypal. grr. i just had the same issue with them over a benefit raffle i hosted for haiti. so sad that they wont help us help others. i ended up just asking for cash and check donations sent to me directly. that worked fine from family and friends who know that the money is going right where i say it will. hope you get something figured out!!ReplyCancel

  • Deen Family - Sell them in your Etsy store!ReplyCancel

  • Marla Taviano - I’d say just sell them at Cora’s store, but jack up the prices and donate the $ yourself.

    Would that work?ReplyCancel

  • Miss Em - Ask this woman….

    She had a fund raiser very similar to this for the adoption of her little girl.ReplyCancel

  • Mere - This is my first time to comment on your precious blog! I have loved reading about your sweet family.
    I am giving you a link to another blog I follow. This family just adopted a little girl from Korea and had giveaways to raise money for adoption expenses. Adrienne might be able to tell you how she handled it.

  • Beth - Check out

    Not sure if it would work for the raffle, but it might!ReplyCancel

  • Susy M. - Do it the old fashioned way. We can send a check for a donation. Put everyone’s name in a hat that donated and whomever you pick wins.ReplyCancel

  • Amanda - This comment has been removed by the author.ReplyCancel

  • purejoy - i think you etsy store is a good solution. raise the prices by a percentage of what you would normally do, and designate them as a calla item.
    of course, there is the tax issue, but hopefully you can figure all of that out.
    sorry the paypal police has pulled you over.
    best wishes!ReplyCancel

  • Johanna Simpson Baker - tack on a ‘shipping fee’ (a stamp) and a handling fee (photo printing cost) and send everyone a sticker or a little photo of Cora. That way, everyone who ‘bids’ is actually buying something. πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • Mindy - I know The Design Girl ( has held raffles (for Haiti for example) and I believe she used Chip In ( like someone else mentioned.ReplyCancel

  • beckley - does the church have an account for them? have the money given/written to them, and people can comment and mail checks, like the church did for cora, right? Then, pick the comment at random and give it to them.

    or, go to and ask them. they have people fundraising for them right now.

    or just set up a non-profit. maybe that’s something you will be called to in life? raising money for struggling babies? i don’t know. maybe? maybe cora could have her own non-profit?


  • Amanda - Use to raise money for an event.


    You know….you could use your etsy store and post $10 and $20 “gift certificates” for Calla. Once the raffle is over, change the remaining listings pictures/titles to the new raffle picture. Then you won’t be wasting money on unused listing fees and whatnot.

    I would list a reasonable amount of certificates based on what you’ve been receiving the past 3 raffles.

    I know there’s the listing fee and percentage Etsy takes but…’s small and it’s worth it. Calla might only get $19 instead of $20 but she’ll appreciate it.ReplyCancel

  • Judy - Hmmm…I too was going to say I used it to raise money for a friend going to Malawi Africa. But I’m not entirely sure if it would be okay, because the chipin money actually does go into your paypal account. But I think Chipin is a third party that just uses Paypal. Definitely something to look into! Hope that helps! I love that sweet baby Calla!ReplyCancel

  • Carla - I would second the etsy suggestion. The drawback of checks (or cheques as we’d write here :-)) is that it exludes overseas donors like myself. I like the idea of an auction either, could be fun :-). Its very frustrating that Paypal are being so obstructive. Its for a tiny baby girl, how heartless can they be????? I’ll keep thinking xReplyCancel

  • Judy - It’s me again with one more comment about chipin! Make sure you’re Paypal account is verified before setting up a Chipin fund raiser. When you use Chipin you get a little bar graph widget that shows how much money you’ve raised and it won’t update automatically if your Paypal account isn’t verified (I learned that the hard way…people were giving money and it wasn’t showing up in my Chipin account because my Paypal account wasn’t verified with a bank account). Just giving you a heads up. The whole purpose of Chipin is to raise money for various charities, etc…so I don’t think you should have any problems using it.ReplyCancel

  • Julia - Patrice Williams, Jonah’s mom,is having an auction for his first birthday and they have set up a blog to do it. You can check it out here…

    You would have to do it as an auction rather than a blog, but it might work.ReplyCancel

  • mymcmlife - I would sell the items through eBay so people can bid on the items as high as they’re willing to donate. Or sell “shares” or raffle tickets through etsy?ReplyCancel

  • Kandis - Try Chip in!! Mckmama has used that one!! You could ask her how it works….www.mckmama.comReplyCancel

  • Melissa - what about having a silent auction going through your personal email only, and the highest or closet bidder, what road you take, just transfers it through paypal as if you are just doing a simple transaction.ReplyCancel

  • Savanna - I know that Baby Be Blessed (they have a website and a blog)….their button is on my blog ( and Angie’s Smith’s as well……anyways, they do a raffle/giveaway of sorts on a regular basis. I would see how they set it up. It is very similar if not the exact same of what you are doing. They do one every month for a different child/baby in need.


  • Megg - Oh no, I’m sorry about that! Why not try a silent auction? That way people can bid on the exact things they want? I’ve seen a few of those before.ReplyCancel

  • Veggiemommy - I have donated through ChipIn several times. It seems the best way to go. As the organizer, you will have access to the email addresses of those who donate so you can still randomly select a winner from those. Good luck!ReplyCancel

  • Anonymous - i’d say an auction too.ReplyCancel

  • Anonymous - how about a silent auction?ReplyCancel

  • Charity - oh my… Paypal can be very frustrating! So sad that you’re in trouble for doing good… grr.
    Well I (like at least 10 others :D) second the Etsy shop idea… or you could check out that – I have heard about that never used it though…
    God bless! hope you find a solution soon!ReplyCancel

  • zoefeher - I agree with putthing them in your etsy store! Good luck!


  • Anonymous - open up Calls’s own etsy shop with all the itemsReplyCancel

  • Anonymous - Auction them on ebay. Make sure in the title that it makes reference to Calla or make a link to your seller’s list. It might be fun.
    Also, if people still want to donate maybe you can give an address (their church, maybe) where people who didn’t win the auction could still send donations.ReplyCancel

  • Erica - are silent auctions legal?? that is such a shame!ReplyCancel

  • Megan - I had wondered if paypal might make a stink about that. has had similar issues. Check out this post where she talks about it.

    maybe you can email the blog administrator there and see if she’s come to a resolution.ReplyCancel

  • Emily - the auction idea is a good one! totally unfair for you to be punished!!! what is the world coming to… πŸ™ReplyCancel

  • Trish - sell the remainder in Etsy! jack up the price to cover shipping and maybe keep a few girlie items out for that sweet baby you are raising money for πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • Taylor & Laurel Cline - You could probably set up an account on It’s an online savings account that allows people to help save for your goal. You should also put a disclosure on your posts that states “No purchase or donation necessary to enter or to win. Odds of winning depends on the amount of eligible entries received.” (I work in banking and this is what we use for raffles we hold at the bank).ReplyCancel

  • Molly - Oh no! Like someone else suggested, with Hope for Haiti, she used Google checkout. Not sure if that would work. Also, if you would consider it, you might able to just create a donations area and do the “raffles” as a giveaway? Not sure how that works legally, but lots of bloggers do giveaways and I am sure that most people would still donate.ReplyCancel

  • Shannon - I immediately thought Ebay. Maybe you would get some people that have never heard of your blog– make sure you explain the story in the description. You could post the item number (link) on your blog so all of us can find the items quickly!!ReplyCancel

  • A Dusty Frame - It’s not just paypal. Raffles are highly regulated by state law too.
    Your raffle (and raffles I see on other blogs) very likely violate state law.

    Lots of people don’t realize that, but at least it was only paypal contacting you!ReplyCancel

  • Holli Taylor - Whatever you end up doing let us know. And if you decide to do an auction coukd you maybe do a couple of seperate ones so more people could end up getting stuff.ReplyCancel

  • merlin - Well, when The RustedChain sold “blessed” necklaces, a 10$ donation was made to Haiti for each necklace sold. Could you sell the items and donate the proceeds?
    Not nearly as much fun, but you have lots of blogging folks who want to help Calla.

    Can we just freely donate to the paypal button for Calla with no chance of winning anythig in return? Just a goodwill offering so to speak. I think people would.

    Is there a blogging friend with everything set up “legally” that could run your Cora’s for Calla program until all of the items have been given/donated away?

    OK that’s my 2 cents worth. I KNOW that there is going to be a way to keep Cora helping Calla.ReplyCancel

  • Townsend Crew - How about a daily auction and the item goes the the highest bidder… who also has to leave a lovely, warm words of encouragement to you and/or Breezyfarm…

    Don’t be discouraged. Your good work is all good.ReplyCancel

  • Niki @ Southern Baby Boutique - As one of the stores that donated, I don’t like the idea of an auction, because 1 person who has more money that someone else could easily get it, where as a raffle, chances of receiving the prize are a little more spread out and seem fair. But I do like the Etsy store “gift certificate for Calla” or the ideasReplyCancel

  • Joy - I’m not sure if anyone has already spoke about this as I haven’t read through the comments. But, Jenny with Simply Delightful Designs whom just hosted a raffle Hope for Haiti. They (paypal) did the same thing to her. She tried google checkout. You may get more information from her?
    jenny@ simplydelightfuldesigns dot comReplyCancel

  • kimalli1 - Hi.

    Can you use ChipIn? Are you familiar at all with this blog?

    They just adopted a little girl from Korea, and in order to raise some of the money required for the adoption, they did raffles and I believe they used ChipIn rather than PayPal. The woman that writes that blog seems like the sweetest, most open person you could ever meet. I am sure she could offer you some suggestions. (Nice of me to volunteer someone else to help, I know. But this is definitely not my area of expertise- I don’t even have a blog!) Good luck!

  • Heather | Cookie Mondays - can you take donations via their church?ReplyCancel

  • Auntie Mip - I am sure thsi has been said…how about Esty???ReplyCancel

  • Beki - TheRustedChain - Jess that stinks.

    You won’t be able to sell them in your etsy shop. Etsy doesn’t allow “combined” shops, and essentially that’s what it would be. They only allow the artist/creator, and possibly a handful of helpers to list in one shop. But I’m afraid the etsy police would get you if you sold there.

    I have done many charity auctions on ebay. BUT you can’t use the word “charity” in your title or listing unless it’s being contributed to a registered non-profit.

    But I think you could still put groups of things up on ebay with the search term “Calla” and people would know that the money was being donated. You just have to be careful with the wording.

    I was able to raise $3000 to help Haiti with my Blessed necklaces, but people just had to trust that I was sending the money to where I said I would. (Which I did, of course.) I think that might be the case here, wherever you decide to do it. People will just have to trust that the money is going to where you say it will. And if they follow your blog and are willing to help the Johnsons, I’m sure they know that you’re honest and will follow through.ReplyCancel

  • Dani - I have no idea, but check with Adrienne here;

    She did raffles and giveaways to bring her daughter home from Korea.

    Good luck.ReplyCancel

  • Lindsay - I’m not sure if it’s because they’ve changed their policies, but I know that MckMama used them for her canon giveaway a year ago via the chipin program. – worth a shot?ReplyCancel

  • Anonymous - My only idea is a P.O. box.

    I really, really hope that if I ever have trouble with paypal – say I win an auction and do not receive the merchandise – they are as interested in helping with things like that.

    :::rolling eyes:::ReplyCancel

  • Todd and Courtney - I like the etsy idea and set up gift certificates. I really like that idea and it’s super easy. With the gift certificates, just have a ton of the different amounts. Open then for a week and then randomly draw an email. I think that’d be soooo easy! πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • It's just Mommer - What about a silent auction? Post an item and people could bid through their comments. Would Mr Paypal allow that?ReplyCancel

  • Dina - What if people ‘gifted’ the money to you through paypal using your email address? Is that still ‘illegal’?ReplyCancel

  • Robin in Benton - I hate stupid rules like this – they make it hard to do nice things like you are doing. I guess my best suggestion would be using your etsy store too. It shouldn’t be so hard!ReplyCancel

  • Abby - What about having people bid on the group of items on ebay? Get an ebay account and post the items on there…give us all the link to your ebay store and see how much each group of items goes for…ReplyCancel

  • The Straub Family - Hey Jess,
    I sent you a couple of emails over the past two weeks letting you know the SAME cruddy thing happened to me and my fundraising event for sweet Lilly – a three year old – my daughter’s best friend – who just had brain surgery.
    Is it not the SCARIEST thing ever to get that email?!?!
    I think my heart fell out of my chest for a second!
    I removed my donation button and ended my raffle a week early.
    I would suggest putting a button up on your blog inviting people to contact you about making donations – and then giving them a mailing address for sending checks directly to Ian & Julie.
    My biggest fear was that I was going to get into legal trouble…I have not heard anything else, thankfully.
    Also, why not list all of your items (with approval from the donors) in your shop for sale….or better yet…list them for sale on your BLOG to avoid any more fees?
    I wish you the best of luck…I’ve been following yours and Julies blogs for over a year….I feel like I know you all!
    Hugs & Prayers,
    …oops, I see I am signed in as Lilly’s mom because I just posted Lilly’s update for her on her own blog!ReplyCancel

  • The Straub Family - …one more thing..
    I see alot of folks are suggesting ChipIn.
    I was using ChipIn for my raffle….and I still got shut down..because the payments still go through Paypal.ReplyCancel

  • nikki - go to and then at the bottom there is a link to their blog and to email them….each month they set up a chip in for a different person once to click the chip in to give you forward that to them and they enter you to win something. You could email them to get more specifics but I’m sure it would work for you…they are super sweet ladies and would be thrilled to help you figure it out.ReplyCancel

  • Ginger - Hey Jess… I follow Young House Love ( and they have a ton of “fab freebie” giveaways on their blog. You might check with them to see what they do. They’re great about communication. πŸ™‚ Hope you find a simple solution! Love ya πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • Stef - I have no ideas, but I’m praying!!ReplyCancel

  • merlin - You could think REALLY BIG and see this as a legacy for Cora and set up a charity in her name…..ReplyCancel

  • laura - I really like the idea of making the purchase of a photo of Cala & those names being put into the raffle. Also like the suggestions that there has to be a way around this.
    You are doing so much good for Baby Calla’s family.
    Bless you & your family.ReplyCancel

  • Glittergirl - I am from the UK so you would need to check this out but could you have participants answer a simple question as well? I think if some sort of “skill” is demonstrated it is no longer classed as gambling. I think you would also probably need a disclaimer stating that no donation was necessary to enter…
    Hope you get it sorted.
    Good luckReplyCancel

  • Anonymous - Hi Jess,

    I have had a lot of trouble with paypal in recent months. I hosted a fundraising ball to raise money for a charity supporting bone marrow transplant patients in honour of a dear friend going through one.

    Paypal were VERY quick to put a hold on my account and not so fast to help me sort it out am afraid. It was a frustrating few months of back and forward emails, me having to scan and send a ton of documents – including having to prove I was using the money in the way intended.

    It took me four months to have the limitations lifted and to withdraw the money. Such a drama.

    Can you leave the donate button if it’s not a raffle? I am sure that your blog followers will still support Cora’s for Calla. I also love the idea of selling through your etsy store, if this is possible.

    Good luck!
    xo Jen, Australia

  • JD - Paypal has the option of sending money as a “gift.”

    Couldn’t you just accept “gifts” on behalf of Calla and then in return you could send a “gift” to someone in return?

    Don’t call it a raffle. Don’t call them prizes. It’s all just a bunch of people exchanging gifts.ReplyCancel

  • Audrey - There are other paypal-like sites that you can use to send/receive money in a secure manner. Paypal is notorious for this for this sort of goofiness…I’m sorry that you got “caught.”ReplyCancel

  • Donna H - As someone else mentioned, you can set up a donation account at a bank or credit union in the childs name for her needs. People can donate directly to that account. (wink wink πŸ™‚ You would then want to thank everyone who donated and you would get a list of the names of all who donated. You could use the list to put all of those people in a drawing, not a raffle, and GIVE away the clothes.

    When I saw that you were doing a raffle I was concerned but I don’t know the laws in your state.

    The other option is to set up a foundation in Cora’s name and then you can give to whomever you like.

    It may work out to be something bigger than any of us planned.ReplyCancel

  • Donna H - PS There is no way to call it something other than a raffle and still raffle. State and Federal gaming laws are strict and breaking those laws can be a criminal offense. Not everyone has the good intentions of the Macs and the law is the law. Paypal is right.ReplyCancel

  • Outre Beauty Bistro - How about just auctioning the stuff of on ebay and linking your auctions with your blog? Most people have an account on Ebay. After fees, that would be your donation amount. There is always a way! We just have to find it! XOReplyCancel

  • Outre Beauty Bistro - Or, doing what Jen said and having people send the money straight to you…that is no different than paypal…you are ultimitaley in control of where both goes. I am 100 percent sure Jess, that everybody would be fine with that. You are a strong christian, you proved yourself with cora’s place as far as donations, and everybody’s knows you have a heart for others. I would have them send it to you and then do the comment. ??ReplyCancel

  • Tsquared417 - Have you heard of I used that last year for a raffle….they can use a credit card or pay pal…ReplyCancel

  • L ~ S - I did not read all the good suggestions, but one I thought of is that you put a ‘price’ on them, but it it more a suggested donation, so someone can ‘buy’ it and then pay whatever amount they want…ReplyCancel

  • Sarah G - Stephanie of A Daily Scoop ( recently did an auction to benefit a family in need and it seemed to run pretty smoothly. You could contact her to learn more about how she handled it but I’m pretty sure PayPal wasn’t involved. Good luck!ReplyCancel

  • The Evans Family - Use a chip in button instead here is the link:

    Good luckReplyCancel

  • Ceri - What about Calla’s family? Do they have a pay pal account? Then people could gift the money directly to them??
    “You could manage the paypal account to help Calla’s family to help send out thank yous” ;)and privately send that thank you out. And it would be your new hobby for a while to Post a picture of “whats on the bed in your guest room this week”ReplyCancel

  • amazeingteacher - i’ve been trying to find the “clause” in their policy and it may help others…
    Lottery tickets – Include the purchase or sale of any opportunity to participate in a raffle, drawing, sweepstake, pool, or any other form of game or contest involving the distribution of prizes or monetary compensation.

    it is my understanding that you can use chipin but you cannot give any gift/ticket/prize for people contributing. does anyone have another understanding of this?ReplyCancel

  • Anonymous - How about a live auction for those of us who are local. Pretty sure we could round up more donations, an auctioneer and some cookies and punch. It would give those who are close to them a chance to give items, mingle together and have a good time for a great cause.ReplyCancel

  • Michelle - Your church is non profit and they helped you setup a way to donate for the playground. Maybe they can setup a seperate fund and you can continue to help people who need it that way. Maybe they can setup a silent auction for the items and the money goes into that fund.ReplyCancel

  • momof3darlings - I’ve been a part of MANY raffles for good causes! We just had each person send the money for a raffle chance to a certain PayPal address. In the comment section, they would list it as “donation” and then YOU just take all the names, and draw them out of a hat. EASY!

    We’ve done this many times before.ReplyCancel

  • Nan - How hard is it to get registered as a non-profit? Cora’s could go public as a non-profit support for families of sick children! I’m sure that’s way easier said than done though.

    What about listing them as auctions on Ebay with the additional information always included that all proceeds go to help families of sick kids?ReplyCancel

  • Kara - does that! I belong to a cloth diaper board that does some raffles and such for Mamas in need.
    Check it out?ReplyCancel

  • Karina - I would absolutely shop like mad at your store if you put them there. Would that work? That’s how I found you, after all. I bought Etsy stuff that went to fund Cora’s playground.ReplyCancel

  • Suesan - I was going to also say auction as a suggestion, I know nothing about the legalities but I saw this recently.
    Good luck!ReplyCancel

  • Kari and Robert - What if you were to set up a Calla Shop much like in the beginning for Cora’s Playground. Then people would still be buying items and the money would still be going to Calla?ReplyCancel

  • Teresa Peschke - I agree with selling it on etsy, just include the price of listing the item and the amount paypal will take in the price that way everything can go to calla.ReplyCancel

  • KyndraRenae - I dont see how a raffle is gambling when it’s going to a charitable cause. I dont’ know what you could do. What about people who set up the buckets in stores and stuff. They’re not an organization, it’s basically the same thing. I don’t know what you could do. Wish I could help. I think it’s great what you are doing to help calla.ReplyCancel

  • Beki - TheRustedChain - I think you’re probably on top of this but one more suggestion.

    I just opened a shop at It’s quite easy, and faster to list items than etsy. There are no fees! AND people don’t have to sign up to purchase. They just click “buy” and it prompts them to pay through paypal, so they don’t need to register with a new site or anything.

    So far I’m loving it. There are record companies, handmade sellers, and lots of others that use it and I think it could work great with Cora’s for Calla.ReplyCancel

  • Anonymous - Just read this and thought of your predicament with PayPal. I may be really late in the game with this since you already have so many comments!

    Scroll down to the bottom where she writes about “My Crazy Idea” which is about an ipod giveway. She says that you can write “Donate to enter a giveway.” That way you aren’t labeled as a gambler. Hope it helps!ReplyCancel

  • Lisa Daniels - I was listening to the Kim Komando show, and she brought this issue up. Here is a link to a possible answer to your situation. (You may have found another answer, but I didn’t read all the responses)
    You don’t have to be a non-profit, but your “cause” has to be approved. Give it a look. If you haven’t found another situation, I hope it works for you!!! :0)

    Keeping up with your family,
    Lisa & Daniels’ FamilyReplyCancel

  • Lisa Daniels - Duh…forgot the link…

    They require 5% if the amount is reached or exceeded though. It’s a service, so no free lunch.