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The impact of the last 3 years on prize-led fundraising

Has prize-led fundraising been affected by the economic uncertainty of recent years?

Fundraising approaches have undergone significant changes over the past three years, driven by external factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the cost of living crisis.

In this article, we will explore the impact of these events on prize-led fundraising, specifically focusing on raffles and lotteries. We will examine the following key elements to understand how prize-led fundraising has evolved and adapted during these challenging times:

  • Response rates
  • Average gifts
  • Recruitment volumes
  • And player retention

If you're a charity fundraiser working in raffles and weekly lottery, you might find our Prize-Led Fundraising Benchmarking and Trends webinar of interest which is available on-demand.

1. Raffle benchmarks

Response rates for raffles showed a decline in 2022 compared to the previous two years but were higher than in 2019. 2023 whole year results are similar with response rates sitting at the same level as 2022. Even with the cost-of-living crisis, raffle response is still strong, showing that prize-led bucks the trend when it comes to times of recession.

The average gift for raffles has steadily increased since 2019, with a notable jump during the COVID-19 period. Spring campaigns in 2024 have maintained strong response rates, although just slightly lower than Spring 2023 (-28%) whilst average gifts have seen a £1 increase year-on-year, suggesting stability in this fundraising method.

Hand drawing results graph with white chalk on blackboard

2. Weekly lottery benchmarks

Recruitment volumes for weekly lotteries were heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly due to the halt in face-to-face interactions. However, there has been a gradual recovery in 2022, with a 15% increase in recruitment compared to the previous two years and again in 2023 where there was a 47% increase year on year.

Despite the challenges, the player bases for lotteries have remained robust, and recovered in 2023 to pre 2021 levels.

3. Prize-led fundraising in changing times

Prize-led fundraising, encompassing raffles and lotteries, has proven to be resilient during times of economic hardship, such as the cost of living crisis.

Average gifts for lotteries have consistently risen year-on-year, thanks to the integration of digital and DRTV (direct response television) channels.

Smaller charity have also found success with weekly lotteries, providing stable monthly income during challenging times.

4. The importance of prizes and engagement

Research conducted by The Good Agency and YouGov revealed that people are more likely to donate when there is an opportunity to win something back.

Plus, in Mintel's 2023 UK Lottery report, they say that whilst the economy as a whole has seen a downturn, lotteries (raffle and lottery) have bucked the trend, seeing an uplift in the same period. From this we can see that prize-led fundraising has been an attractive option for supporters facing economic difficulties.

With that in mind, it's clear working with the changing fundraising landscape and utilising the attractiveness of winning prizes and engagement devices are the key to the longer term.

A senior couple celebrating a lottery or raffle win on their laptop, representing income generation strategy ideas for charity organisations.

5. Challenges and future outlook

COVID-19 and the cost of living crisis have presented unique challenges for fundraising efforts. Since this time, some charities have noticed a decline in supporter volumes, potentially attributed to the unprecedented surge of giving during the pandemic now coming back to sustainable levels and / or supporters making tough priority calls on their spending.

Retaining traditional supporters, reaching new supporters and creating lasting impressions are among the key challenges faced by organizations.

Face-to-face recruitment has started to recover, but additional efforts are needed to address lower volumes and explore new acquisition channels.

To conclude: Prize-led fundraising continues to be robust

The last three years have brought about significant changes and challenges for prize-led fundraising.

While raffles have experienced fluctuations in response rates and average gifts they’re still showing positive growth. What’s more, lotteries have shown resilience and growth despite recruitment setbacks. The integration of digital and DRTV channels has contributed to the rise in average gifts for lotteries.

Prize-led fundraising continues to be an effective fundraising approach, particularly during economic hardships, but charities must adapt and engage with donors to ensure long-term play and value to the charity.


Partner with us to achieve more

Prize-led fundraising is an exciting fundraising stream to be working in right now. It's not easy though, and that's why migrating your programmes to an expert fundraising partner, like Woods Valldata, can really make a difference to your income and supporter experience.

Our prize-led strategic expertise is second to none - offering you tailored analysis and recommendations to elevate your ability to achieve more.

We helped The Air Ambulance Service more than double their 2021 raffle income target and enabled St John Ambulance to achieve a 300% growth in the first 6 months after migrating their lottery to us.

Sound like something you might like to find out more about?  Drop us a line, we'd love to talk through how our people and processes, technical capabilities and breadth of expertise in house means the service you get is the best it can be. 

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