What Are Sweepstakes Administrators and What Do They Do?

Image of a Sweepstakes Administrator Designing a Giveaway
Sweepstakes Administrators Plan Fair and Successful Giveaways.

Image (c) Westend61 / Getty Images 

When you read sweepstakes' rules, you may come across a reference to a "sweepstakes administrator". What are sweepstakes administrators and why do companies use them for their giveaways?

Sweepstakes administrators specialize in managing giveaways and other promotions. They are experienced in handling every aspect of a giveaway including designing how winners will be drawn, collecting entrants' data, winner selection, and distributing prizes.

Administrators sometimes go by other names as well, such as:

  • Sweepstakes management company
  • Sweepstakes agency
  • Sweepstakes fulfillment company

Sweepstakes administrators are different from sweepstakes sponsors. Sponsors provide the prizes, pay the administrators' fees, and reap the benefits from the giveaway, like newsletter signups and website traffic.

For example, with the HGTV Dream Home Giveaway, the sponsor is HGTV's parent company, Scripps Networks, and the sweepstakes administrator is Ritway.

That separation helps shield the sponsors against allegations of favoritism in their prize drawings, among the other benefits described below.

Not every giveaway has a separate sweepstakes administrator. Sometimes, sponsors administer their own giveaways. In other cases, they might hire another company to take over specific aspects of the giveaway, like prize fulfillment or winner selection, while the sponsor handles the rest themselves.

What Sweepstakes Administrators Do for Sweepstakes Sponsors

It's not easy to run a fair and legal giveaway, especially for sponsors who have a different business focus. Sweepstakes administrators help companies reap the benefits of sponsoring giveaways while avoiding many of the pitfalls. Here are some of the advantages of using sweepstakes administrators:

1. Administrators Design Sweepstakes that Meet the Sponsors' Goals

If your company doesn't have a lot of experience with giveaways, it's likely that you will spend time and energy designing a giveaway that doesn't really work for you.

Sweepstakes administrators help the sponsor define the goals that the promotion should meet, and then designs a giveaway that meets those goals.

2. Sweepstakes Administrators Ensure that Giveaways Follow the Law

Sweepstakes and contest law is complex and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. A giveaway that is perfectly fine in Maryland could break the law in Quebec or Florida. Even an innocent mistake can result in hefty fines for the sponsor.

Sweepstakes administrators know the fine points of the law and help sponsors design their giveaways to be fully compliant. This ensures that entrants are covered by the laws meant to protect them and that sponsors are protected from costly mistakes.

3. Sweepstakes Administrators Prevent Fraud (and the Appearance of Fraud)

If your company is giving away a large prize, how can you be sure that one of your employees might not be tempted to tip the odds in their favor, or to ensure that the prize goes to a friend or family member? Or maybe your company might think about awarding the prize to someone who fits their ideal customer profile rather than choosing a truly random winner?

Even if your company is scrupulously honest, suspicious-minded entrants might have their doubts, causing fewer people to enter or bad feelings about your company at the end of the giveaway.

A sweepstakes administrator is a neutral third party who can both prevent fraud and the appearance thereof. Except, of course, in the extremely rare case that your sweepstakes administrator is part of the scam.

4. Sweepstakes Administrators Are Pros at Marketing Giveaways

Most of the benefits of running giveaways hinge on people getting excited about the chance to enter and win; something they can't do if they never hear about the sweepstakes.

Sweepstakes administrators are marketing pros who know how to spread the word about their clients' giveaways. They're familiar with marketing methods like social media and on-product advertising and can leverage this knowledge to give the sponsor the most bang for their giveaway bucks.

5. Sponsors Save Manpower by Using Sweepstakes Administrators

Sponsors save time and money by outsourcing their sweepstakes to an administrator. Unless they are a very large company, it's unlikely that they have people in place who specialize in sweepstakes law, who can design a giveaway to achieve measurable goals, and who can run everything smoothly from start to finish.

Even if your organization does have those people, chances are that they are already busy doing their everyday jobs.

Sweepstakes administrators have this knowledge at hand and running giveaways is their main job. This frees up manpower for the sponsor and saves money in the long run.

6. If There's One Thing You Don't Want to Mess Up, It's Prize Fulfillment!

Sweepstakes are great for building buzz about products and positive feedback about companies... until you bungle how you award a prize. Long delays and other delivery problems can sour a relationship with a potential customer. And thanks to social media, that angry winner can spread those bad feelings with alarming speed.

Sweepstakes administrators help every stage of the giveaway go smoothly, including complex prize distribution.

Why Entrants Should Pay Attention to Sweepstakes Administrators

If you are only interested in entering sweepstakes, why do you need to know anything about sweepstakes administrators? Who cares about the person who designs a giveaway behind the scenes, as long as you can win prizes, right?

It's important to keep sweepstakes administrators in mind because knowing about them can help you avoid overlooking prize wins.

One of the warning signs of sweepstakes scams is receiving a win notification from a company you don't recognize. If you didn't enter the giveaway, you can't win it.

However, sweepstakes administrators can muddy the waters when you follow this rule. You might remember that you entered an HGTV giveaway but not recognize the administrator's name, Ritway, when they contact you.

For this reason, it's a good idea to check the rules of a giveaway that you have won to see if an administrator is listed. You can also familiarize yourself with some popular administrators such as:

  • Marden-Kane
  • HelloWorld (formerly known as ePrize)
  • Don Jagoda Associates
  • Prize Logic
  • Ritway
  • Ventura Associates
  • Wildfire

If you receive a win notification that looks legit but you don't recognize the company that sent it, Google the company's name to find out more about it before you throw out the notification.