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Is prize-led fundraising (raffle and lottery) right for your charity?

Raffles and lotteries have the potential to bring in vast amounts of money for many charities.

However, will it be right for your charity, and how can you set one up? In this blog, our experts here at Woods Valldata explore charity raffle and weekly lottery as a viable new income stream for charities today.

So, if you’re looking to establish more charity fundraising solutions but are unsure whether it’s the right time, read on to discover if prize-led funding is right for you.

Is prize-led fundraising for your charity? Take our quick quiz to find out!

Charity lotteries, raffles, and prize draws are exciting income streams for many UK charities, with the majority of the top 10 UK charities (ranked by YouGov) running a raffle, a weekly lottery or both. We'd love to tell you a little more about what it's all about...

YouGov top 10 ranked charities with raffle or lottery-1

What is prize-led fundraising?

Prize-led fundraising is where supporters choose to support you in return for the chance to win something. Types of prize-led fundraising include:

  • Free prize draws
  • Raffles
  • Weekly lotteries
  • Scratch cards
  • Tombola
  • Event-based draws
  • And anything else where there is chance to win

Your charity may run some of these at specific events or on an ad hoc basis. Many charities choose to approach prize-led more programmatically and strategically manage prize-led programmes as an unrestricted income stream within their fundraising mix.

In our 2023 Sector Survey, 75% of the 140 charity fundraising respondents said that they included prize-led strategies as part of their fundraising mix (That's up from 55% in 2022 and 52% in 2021). Why? Because it attracts a different supporter profile, helps acquire new supporters, provides additional income potential, and is a fun product for existing supporters to play in addition to their other support.

Why charities include prize-led in their fundraising mix_2023

Prize-led fundraising FAQs

For the purposes of this article, we will focus on charity raffles and lotteries, answering some of the most common questions around prize-led fundraising:

1. What is a charity raffle?

A raffle is a game of chance. Traditionally, players buy physical tickets for entry into a raffle draw taking place on a specific date for a chance to win prizes.

Online raffles are increasing in popularity too, with more and more players opting to buy their tickets virtually. Either way, a raffle is a fun way for people to give to your charity, and the chance that they might win something makes it especially exciting.

Raffles are often one-off events, a little like cash giving. As a result, we need to make sure every raffle ask is as compelling as the last to get people to play again and again!

2. What is 2024 looking like for charity raffle?

Increases in average gift (as a combination of ticket sales and donations) and response rates across the last four years have been growing positively. Response rates for raffle are far exceeding pre-covid levels by 3.5 percentage points and the average gift via a raffle continues to rise year-on year. 

Average raffle gift 2023

Anecdotally, and as a result of recommendations from the Woods Valldata team for their charity partner campaigns, there’s more focus on stewardship in raffle – to retain those hard-sought players. This might be through tactics to increase play-again rates in the next ask, reactivate lapsing players, or simply sending a more thoughtful and considered thank you communication.

After several years where charities have not ventured into raffle using cold data, more robust opt-ins in the cold lists have reassured some charities into reintroducing this once fruitful acquisition channel.

We’re seeing great response rates, average gift rates aligned to ask and a 30% play-again rate. If your charity feels comfortable using cold data once again, it’s worth considering to bolster your player volumes and introduce new supporters to your charity.

Alternatives to cold data mailings include partially addressed mail (PAM) and door drops, which have also proven effective for many charities and worth exploring with test cells.

What’s more, the percentage of online play for raffle is increasing year-on-year, with a 77% uplift in online response and 18% increase in online gift between 2019 and 2021. In 2023 nearly 14% of all raffle ticket sales were done online.

Overall, 2024 looks to continue to be a successful year for charity raffles. So, if you’re now looking for new charity fundraising solutions or are growing your existing programme, this is a good time to get going!

Still not sure? Read about the 5 signs a raffle is the right fundraising avenue for your charity.

A senior woman celebrating as she wins an online lottery, representing prize-led charity fundraising trends.

3. What is a weekly lottery?

A weekly lottery is an unrestricted regular giving programme, largely or wholly based on direct debit sign-ups. As such, growing and maintaining your player pot will provide the lottery income and profits to help drive your charity’s good works.

It’s a powerful product that requires a little investment to generate solid fundraising income, and with feeding and loving, can produce some truly outstanding revenue!

4. What is 2024 looking like for weekly lotteries?

Even though weekly lotteries have seen record numbers recently, it’s been a tough time for acquisition. As with all regular giving, you need consistent investment in acquisition to keep the product growing and successful. And with the sudden removal of Face-2-Face (F2F) in 2020, and its sporadic return to the end of 2021, lottery was left without the reliability of its single biggest acquisition channel.

Many charities turned to alternative acquisition channels: social media and direct response TV (DRTV) or diverted their budgets to stewardship calls to retain loyalty and positive relationships.

Although smaller in volume compared to F2F, lower attrition rates in these channels during this time, and a higher average sign-up rate helped minimise the impact of the changes from Covid-19 on lottery bases. And to the end of 2023, the stats are looking good. Recruitment is at its highest level since 2020 without a correlating attrition rate showing that more people are sticking with lotteries than ever before, and at around 1.5 chances taken per player, this is excellent news for existing and new lotteries alike.

So, what do we do?

The growth of weekly lottery is still rising, and with no sign yet of saturation, this is a great time for setting up a new weekly lottery product. Affinity Lottery is a great way to get started with a minimal set-up fee and no on-going charges, no need for complex set-ups and no minimum number of players, you can get going in just two weeks. We're offering a free demo to charities of all sizes, so why not book in a slot to see what it's all about?

Your programme - whether it's an ongoing programme or brand new - will need players, so we recommend testing different acquisition channels or opportunities: warm conversion, F2F, telemarketing, and have a go at digital and DRTV to test approaches and sequences – you might hit gold! In addition, consider if are there any opportunities for collaborations within your charity: events or corporate partnerships?

If you have an existing programme, our first recommendation is to retain those new players from previous years, acquired through new channels. If you have variable direct debits, you will need to send them an annual notification letter.

If this is the case, and you have permissions to do so, why not take the opportunity to let them know what contribution playing the lottery has made to your charity? Find out more about them: channel preferences, contact preferences, reasons for their support.

Now is the time to establish a stewardship programme for lottery. It will be worth it!

5. Is prize-led fundraising right for your charity?

We can’t think of a reason for you not to go down the prize-led route, but as always there’s a few things you might want to consider before taking the plunge:

  • Player acquisition: the size of your mailing base, and their supporter history (segmentation) appropriate to the product plus your budget allowance for launch and ongoing acquisition and retention.
  • Your internal resource: your capacity to set-up and manage the programme, including ongoing planning and administration.
  • Your internal appetite: ultimately, the buy-in of trustees as prize-led can often come across resistance due to associations with the negative sides of gambling. There is strong evidence against charity raffles and lotteries influencing problem gambling.

Still wondering?  Why not take our decision tree quiz?

Want to find out more about trends in prize-led fundraising?

Don’t forget to watch our 2024 prize-led fundraising benchmarking and trends webinar, where we present key raffle and weekly lottery benchmarks and chat through current trends with leading prize-led experts from PETA, St. Barnabas House Hospices and RNLI.

If you want to establish a new raffle or lottery as an additional way for new and existing supporters to give to your charity, or you’re looking to reinvigorate and grow your current programmes, we’d love to speak to you!

Woods Valldata is an established External Lottery Manager (ELM) with a solid track record in working with charity partners to set up and manage highly responsive prize-led programmes. We provide sound, data-driven, strategic recommendations, friendly, approachable and reliable account management and an industry-leading operational team.

We have lottery products to suit all charity types and your ambitions from quick, ready to go lotteries to fully bespoke programmes, and our suite of raffle services is unrivalled. Get in touch with our team today to kickstart your prize draw journey.

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