Charities boost spending on recession-beating raffles

RNID, RSPB and St Dunstan's among those increasing expenditure

Charities are spending more on running raffles and lotteries because they have proved more resilient in the recession than other forms of fundraising.

Martin Bishop, acting director of fundraising at the RNID, said the charity had increased its spending on lotteries by 94 per cent in the financial year 2009/10.

"Lotteries are working for many charities at the moment because they're a good way to recruit new donors," he said. "So it made sense to invest. We did some initial tests, which performed well, so we decided to invest further." He declined to reveal how much the charity had spent.

Sharon Wilding, head of fundraising services at the RNIB, said the charity was extending its raffles this year by using direct mail as well as telephone fundraising to recruit new raffle players. "Raffles are our second-biggest area of fundraising," she said. "They bring in about £8m a year."

Phil Young, supporter initiatives manager at the RSPB, said the environmental charity was increasing its expenditure on raffles. "They have a return on investment of more than £4 raised for every £1 spent," he said. "Other areas of fundraising are struggling in comparison." He said the charity ran four raffles a year, each of which raised about £400,000.

Branka Young, direct marketing manager at St Dunstan's, which supports visually impaired ex-servicemen and women, said the charity spent more on raffles in 2009/10 than in 2008/09.

This had led to an increase in raffle income from £1.5m to £1.8m, she said. "The recession was our reason for doing the raffles last year, and it paid off," she said. "They raised £5 for every £1 spent, compared with £4 from our direct mail appeals."

In a survey of 861 members of the public by direct marketing agency DMS, carried out earlier this month, 49 per cent of respondents said raffles, lotteries and prize draws were one of their preferred methods of donating to charity.

Sixty per cent said offering a cash prize would be the most effective way of encouraging people to take part in them.

Joe Saxton, founder of research body nfpSynergy and former chair of the Institute of Fundraising, said: "Raffles and lotteries are resilient, despite the recession. People like the idea of getting something back."

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