Laura Illsley: What’s in store for prize-led fundraising in 2023?

08 Feb 2023 Expert insight

Head of client services at Woods Valldata, Laura Illsley, reflects on the year to come and where charities should focus their efforts for prize-led fundraising.

Cube turns from 2022 to 2023 on wooden table

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Prize-led fundraising has long been a stable income generation stream for individual fundraising and numbers of supporters playing these games of chance are continuing to grow. But how does 2023 look for charity raffles and weekly lotteries?

Prize-led context

Covid-19 turned fundraising approaches on their head and, despite all our fears, generated some of the highest one-off giving campaigns we have experienced in recent times.  But with recent political and economic events, raffle and lottery – as with all individual giving income generation – saw a slight decline on response and gift.

That said, raffle response rates still sat above pre-Covid figures with average gifts remaining strong for raffle. In addition, lottery recruitment has hit 3% of the base (compared to 1-1.5% in the 18 months previous) and cancellations sat at the same 1.25% both in the run up to Christmas in 2022 and in the same period in 2021 when there was less lottery recruitment. That’s a really positive story.

With that backdrop we’re entering 2023 with optimism and enthusiasm for both weekly lottery and charity raffle. To sustain and grow your programmes over the next year, we recommend three key focus areas:

  1. Data as king

With response rates potentially declining vs 2021 and 2022 as we drop deeper into recession, making data work harder for you has never been more important.

By being supporter-centric, really knowing and understanding your prize-led supporters and putting them at the heart of fundraising, you will protect your relationships with them and engage with them more effectively.

For example, increasing or even maintaining your ROI on warm raffle won’t come from changing the pack format, it will be driven by simplifying your pack to reduce your costs and being clever with your data to increase your impact.

So, now is the time to invest in a data deep dive. This will help you to assess what is happening in your programme and what changes and developments need to be tested and implemented to ensure your programmes continue to thrive.

  1. Retention, retention, retention (and stewardship)

With increasing cost per acquisition (CPA), focusing on existing players by increasing play rates and building loyalty to your programmes will pay dividends.

According to survey-based research by Woods Valldata in 2022 only 50% of the 196 charity fundraisers surveyed currently had a retention and stewardship programme in place. If you’re one of the 50% who don’t have one running for your prize-led programmes, 2023 is definitely the year to start.

Think about what your raffle and/or lottery players will find interesting based on their play motivations.

  • What additional incentives are there to encourage play?
  • What are the key attrition points in your programme? How can you influence them?
  • What channels can you use to communicate with your supporters in the right way and at the right time? Email, post, social, telephone etc.

Whatever you do, do something, and start testing the impact of building relationships with your players so you know it’s working for you.

  1. Acquiring the right people

Even though CPAs are increasing, to keep your prize-led programmes healthy and grow income, you need to continue to invest. It’s really hard to turn the ship around once you start going backwards!

We know fundraising budgets are tough. Charities therefore need to work harder not only to acquire more players, but to acquire the right players, with whom you can start to build a longer-term relationship to deliver higher life-time value.

For raffle: Think about alternative and different pockets of warm data for cross-sell. We’d also suggest you explore cold acquisition both digitally and via print to cold lists, partially addressed mail and/or door drops.

For weekly lottery: Look to volume in the right places. Face-to-face, for instance, has seen a massive resurgence leading to increased acquisition volumes feeding active lottery player pots.  And with relatively low attrition rates, weekly lottery acquisition is certainly somewhere charities should look to invest in 2023.

We’re excited about what’s to come for prize-led fundraising in 2023. And we know we’re not the only ones. With the rise of accessible off-the-shelf lottery platforms more and more charities of all sizes are fundraising using prize-led.

If you’re eager to learn more about what’s happening in this exciting fundraising stream, we’ll be discussing more prize-led fundraising trends, providing industry benchmarks and sharing raffle and lottery insight at our upcoming webinar with guest panellists from Macmillan Cancer Support, Over the Wall and Air Ambulance Charity Kent Surrey Sussex.

Laura Illsley is head of client services at Woods Valldata

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