Prize-led Fundraising Benchmarking and Trends 2021

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Spotlight on Raffle and Weekly Lottery: Interview with Pam Withrington

Interview with Pam Withrington, Fundraising & Marketing Director
Pam Withrington, Fundraising and Marketing Director, Essex & Herts Air Ambulance

Essex & Herts Air Ambulance is one of 21 Air Ambulance charities in the UK today. 100% self-funded, these charities provide vital rapid response support and critical life-saving care. The operational and charitable cost for Essex & Herts Air Ambulance alone exceeds £9m. We spoke to Pam Withrington, Fundraising and Marketing Director to find out how raffles and weekly lottery support their funding needs.

Thank you for taking the time to speak to us, Pam. First question: What are your main aims in fundraising right now?

Our main aim is to generate sufficient income every year to ensure our service remains operational and safe guard the future of the charity. As a charity we are always looking at cost effective ways to generate income.
The raffle has been a staple part of our prize-led fundraising activity for the last decade. It’s a cost-effective way to generate much needed funds and is a great way for us to share patient stories and engage with and inform our supporters whilst building loyalty. We’ve found that although supporters are loyal to us, the incentive of potentially winning a prize is very attractive – even though it is not ‘life changing’ in value.

Raffle fundraising income helps fund vital services
Fundraising incomes enables vital air ambulance services

It sounds like raffle is an important part of your prize-led programme. How have you grown it over recent years?

Over the last five years we have utilised data expertise for cold acquisition and segmentation. We typically see 2% response rate as well as a very healthy banked vs ask on our targeted, compliant, cold data.

The reporting provided by Woods Valldata has helped us refine our warm segmentation approach including cleaning the data and removing poorly performing segments which has really made a difference. Working with Woods Valldata we’ve also tested a number of initiatives which have helped boost growth. These include: ask strategy, different prizes, a more personalised approach and a golden ticket incentive as well as the inclusion of personalised stickers.

Essex & Herts Air Ambulance charity raffle pack
Supporters look forward to receiving their raffle pack

In the Summer of 2017, we introduced a third raffle. We originally started with just one in 2008, but quickly increased that to two a year, Spring and Winter. Having looked at our data, Woods Valldata were keen that we introduce a 3rd raffle and assured us it would not detrimentally affect support. We were cautious as we felt that another ask would be too much and potentially could damage or reduce income levels already achieved. 2017 was our 20th anniversary and we felt this was the perfect opportunity to ‘test’ a third summer raffle. The response was good, it didn’t affect income for the other two raffles, and we’ve continued with 3 raffles a year since then.

During the pandemic, raffle – through post and online support – has been a key part of our strategy. We have found the combination of postal and the digital platform, supplied by Woods Valldata, has been a real success. Direct mail seems to have gone from strength to strength in the last year. But not all raffle players wish to return the ticket stubs, so offering the online choice as a channel has definitely been of benefit. COVID-19 meant more online purchases were made than previous raffles and this is an area we will focus on in the future.

Online raffle
Online raffle site

Retention has also been important across the board and we’re focusing on our supporter journey to ensure the supporter experience is the best it can be. What’s more, by putting our raffle players on the right supporter journey, we can potentially engage with them in other ways further strengthening our relationship.

Loyalty sounds important to your raffle programme. What initiatives have you implemented to build loyalty and retain players?

Woods Valldata have worked with us strategically to support us in this area including increasing opportunities to play and loyalty incentives. We record those players who only wish to play a certain number of times and the mailings sent reflect this. We introduced our Keep in Touch programme before the introduction of GDPR which enables anyone that plays the raffle or donates to share their preferences with us. This helps to ensure players feel listened to and we only send them relevant information that they have requested in the way they have requested it.

What would you say are the biggest considerations for someone looking to set up and run a successful raffle programme?

Data – We focus on this area and ensure it’s a priority for us – making it accurate and up to date.

Creative – Working with Woods Valldata, we make sure our packs are eye catching and different for each campaign. The creative studio at Woods Valldata mean we can achieve this cost-effectively.

Strategy – Finally I’d say it’s important to have a clear strategy for our raffle campaigns which fits with our wider fundraising goals. We have to understand the changing market and the various demographics. This is something we work very closely on with Woods Valldata.

We have worked with Woods Valldata from day one – we selected them as our raffle partner as they could support us from start to finish. From planning, creative, mailing, response handling and banking right through to final reporting. They provide good clear analysis of data and weekly campaign progress is so valuable as it enables us to track results closely.

The Woods Valldata team offer guidance throughout the raffle process which again is invaluable and clearly has helped us grow this important part of our fundraising ensuring that we maximise opportunities and really push for the best return on investment. I’m confident our new Lottery Manager, working closely with our CRM Manager and the Woods Valldata Team, will continue to grow and develop our prize led fundraising over the coming years.

Infographic showing key raffle and weekly lottery stats

You can find out more about how Raffles and Weekly Lottery can boost your fundraising in our Prize-led Fundraising Benchmarking and Trends Report available to order now.

Read our interview with Rosie Fearon at National Trust to hear more ways to grow your programme.

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