25 Mar 2021
Spotlight on raffle: interview with Rosie Fearon
How does a membership-based national charity like the National Trust make sure it’s prize-led fundraising programme meets the needs of its supporters and contributes to the vital income needed to support Europe’s largest conservation charity?
We spoke to Rosie Fearon, Products and Propositions Manager at National Trust, to find out how raffle helps raise these important funds.
Hi Rosie. It’s great to catch up with you about your raffle programme. Why do you include raffle as part of your wider fundraising mix?
Our aims in fundraising are to inspire and connect supporters with our cause and demonstrate the impact that people can have on the special places they love. By doing this, we then raise the funds needed for vital projects, conservation work and looking after the places in our care.
Because Raffle is quite a ‘fun’ product with a low price point it’s quite accessible – it doesn’t feel exclusive in any way. This means we can use it to tell really positive stories about our impact – to bring it to life in a bit more of a playful way – particularly our work in nature.
Raffle has been a really important part of our portfolio for many years. As National Trust Membership has been one of the main ways of supporting our work, it’s good to have a fundraising product that has an additional benefit for the supporter – they are giving an extra gift but then might win a prize! This means it can appeal to people who are already members as well as other audiences.
Income has held steady in spite of other things like GDPR that have significantly impacted other areas of more traditional direct mail fundraising and we’re seeing the opportunity for growth. Response rates for Raffle are also consistently higher than for other direct mail fundraising.
That’s great news. That steady income for raffle is something we’ve seen across the board at Woods Valldata. It sounds like the programme has been growing. What have you been focusing on recently to help this come about?
As with any programme, I think you need to look at a lot of different areas. For example, we wanted a mechanism that would inject variety into the programme and give an additional incentive to play in order to combat potential fatigue and re-engage our lapsing audiences.
Our team at Woods Valldata suggested a golden coin incentive – giving supporters the opportunity to enter an additional draw if they sent back an enclosed ‘golden coin’. We did an A/B test as we wanted to be really clear as to how the incentive performed across all our different audience segments so could apply this learning for future raffles. The coin uplifted response and therefore income with audiences it was sent to. We would definitely do this again at Christmas as a way to re-engage audiences and maximise income.
Over the last 18 months we’ve implemented a number of other initiatives including one I’m particularly proud of: a tickbox on our Raffle return form for people who wanted to find out more information about how to leave a gift to care for special places in their will. Raffle has been a really important channel for us to raise the awareness of gifts in wills and we saw a significant number of our annual enquiries come through the raffle form. This came about on one of our visits to Woods and seeing some packs from other charities, including one that had a tick box. I have always really valued the sector insight that Woods Valldata can give about what has been working and why.
We have also included a few case studies in some of the packs that show some of the amazing things that gifts in wills have helped achieve – for example planting a wood in our autumn raffle (which was themed around our woodlands appeal). This has worked because our core raffle audience have been really engaged and passionate supporters of the cause of the National Trust. We’ve used Raffle to deepen that impact and engagement which I why I think people have been keen to find out more about supporting in the future with a gift in their will.
That sounds like a very successful addition to the raffle pack. From your experience, what would you say are the really important things to consider for a successful charity raffle?
That’s a good question. There’s a few things I can think of. I think three of most important would be:
- Understanding your audience and being clear on your objectives – we were clear we wanted to make sure raffle was engaging people with our cause and that being prize-led wouldn’t detract from the cause. We made it work with the playful elements of our brand voice so that it felt like a core National Trust product rather than something different and separate.
- When you’re testing, test properly – use A/B testing and have a base pack that you make changes to.
- Licensing – have clarity on who manages Gambling Commission (GC) licensing in your organisation and make sure all stakeholders understand the GC guidance and what’s required of them. Woods Valldata help us understand the requirements and any changes. As well as our Account Director being very knowledgeable, they host an annual ‘Gambling Commission Roadshow’ which is a day-long event for their raffle and lottery charity partners looking at the legal requirements of running a raffle or weekly lottery.
Having a good External Lottery Manager (ELM) is really important. The team at Woods Valldata are great at offering ideas, support and advice. They’re friendly and professional and we’ve built up a really positive relationship together. They work with us through any challenges that may arise to try and find a good solution.