WORKSHOP: Case Study - Raffle incentive scheme is a winner

Francois Le Goff

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Background: The Ulster Cancer Foundation, a Belfast-based charity that funds research into cancer and helps patients and their families cope with the illness, generates a significant sum of money each year through selling raffle tickets. For the past five years, the foundation has worked with marketing agency AMA Charity Services to develop this fundraising campaign.

As well as organising the raffle for the foundation, AMA recruits volunteers to sell the tickets over the phone. But although the raffle enjoyed early success, the event's popularity took a dive in 2002. The number of people buying raffle tickets dropped from 49 per cent to 44 per cent of those approached, and the average donation fell from £16.60 to £13.80.

The charity concluded that it might have been a case of donor fatigue.

Convinced that they could get things back on track, AMA proposed to restore the donor response rate to previous levels. Organised in October, the new raffle coincided with Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Aims: The target for the 2003 campaign was set at a similar level to 2001.

AMA boosted the campaign by offering volunteers incentives to sell more tickets. They were told that if they sold two full books of tickets, at £15 per book, they would receive £350 worth of holiday vouchers.

How it worked "Research indicates that raffle sellers tend to be CDEs rather than ABC1s," said Fintan Bradley, director of charity services at AMA. "Therefore, we believed that offering them something for their time and effort would encourage them and improve the response rate overall."

Having analysed the previous returns for the charity and worked out the number of people who would normally sell two full books, AMA then provided the charity with projections on the anticipated increase and the net gain to the organisation.

AMA was offered holiday vouchers from one of its clients, TLC (Travel & Leisure Company), at a vastly discounted price, so each book of vouchers cost the charity just £2.70. Two books of raffle tickets were sent to the volunteers along with a letter asking them to send back the money they raised and reminding them of the terms of the initiative.

Results: The average response rate rose from 43 per cent to 50 per cent, while the average donation leapt by 41 per cent. In gross income terms the raffle grew 30 per cent on the previous year and finished up 20 per cent over target, though the charity refused to disclose how much it raised.

"The raffle has been an important and profitable part of our fundraising mix over recent years," said Joyce Savage, head of appeals and marketing at the Ulster Cancer Foundation. "Its financial decline was naturally of concern, however it was imperative that any action taken would not jeopardise the public perception of our organisation. Happily, we had a successful outcome on both counts."

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