Focus: Fundraising - Case study - Prize draw is a winner for Samaritans

Helen Barrett

SUMMARY

The Samaritans' first summer raffle, aimed at existing supporters and branch staff, raised more than £120,000.

BACKGROUND

Samaritans had learned that summer appeals tend to be unsuccessful, but the charity needs to raise money all year round, particularly for its 202 branches around the UK. So it came up with the idea of a raffle to give supporters a way to donate that offered them the chance of something in return.

Because it was the first time the charity had run a raffle for many years it was uncertain about how well it would do - so it decided to launch the raffle on a small scale.

HOW IT WORKED

The charity had no specific fundraising target when it launched its summer raffle in July last year.

The campaign was intended to offer prizes in keeping with the charity's message about taking care of emotional health, including a year's gym membership, a holiday at a Haven holiday park, a trip on the London Eye with an overnight stay in a London hotel, and a luxury skincare hamper.

The top prize was £10,000, and most prizes were donated. Ten thousand books of 12 tickets were sold at a cost of £1 per ticket. Each ticket carried an invitation to make an additional donation. The books were sent to existing supporters and branch staff so they could either buy them themselves or sell them to family and friends.

The draw took place in September 2005 at the charity's annual conference in York.

RESULTS

The raffle raised more than £120,000, and the charity was able to ensure that about a third went directly to the branches that took part. The rest went into general funds. The charity plans to repeat the raffle this year, tying it in with its major fundraising and awareness day on 24 July.

On that day, the charity is holding its 24:7 event to promote its round-the-clock availability to people seeking emotional support.

Kirstie Arnould, direct marketing manager for the charity, said: "We were very pleased with the results of our first summer raffle, and are hopeful that it will be an even bigger success this year as it ties in with 24:7, our national fundraising and awareness-raising day."

EXPERT VIEW - DAVID BURROWS, PLANNER, TDA

Sometimes, raising more funds requires an innovative strategy and a big idea. But sometimes, frankly, it just needs a big dollop of common sense, commitment and hard work.

Here is a charity that had the common sense to realise that traditional fundraising appeals weren't working very well in the summer, and had the gumption to try something else. Rather than simply asking for money again, it offered supporters something more tangible - the chance of winning £10,000.

Giving supporters a reward - or the chance of winning a prize - is a technique that works for many charities. Charities should consider how rewarding people can help vary their menu of fundraising offers. If you are going to launch a raffle, remember that a lottery is a different beast from a fundraising appeal. A good maxim to remember is 'keep your eyes on the prize'. This was the chorus of a song sung by marchers during the civil rights movement - for them it meant 'keep going because the end is worth it'. For raffle fundraisers it has a more prosaic meaning. People buy raffle tickets to win, not to give. So go for a big prize, and sell it hard.

Hats off to a campaign that won't win creative awards, but successfully brought in £120,000.

Creativity: 2

Delivery: 5

7/10

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