Looking for ways to sustain the performance of your raffle or lottery through whatever might lie ahead? Liz Henderson asks the experts to share their tips and ideas.
So, you want to make sure your lottery or raffle is a solid performer into the future? Finding it trickier at a time when communications technology is rapidly evolving?
The experts agree that no matter what else is happening, for long-term results the best thing you can do is stick to your fundraising guns. In other words, persist with the essentials like testing and acquisition, even if it doesn’t immediately lead to higher profits. And never forget the most important tool at a fundraiser’s disposal … Listen to your supporters!
Mix consistent strategy with new ideas
With established call centres in Australia and New Zealand, and over a decade of experience, Director Peter Thomson of Contact Centres Australia (CCA) knows what to expect from this fundraising channel.
Acquisition. The answer is to continue to actively acquire new raffle donors and to identify ways to combat attrition. “We’ve been running campaigns for some clients for 12 years, mainly because we have a strong, solid acquisition strategy that is consistent,” he says. “You need to adopt a strategy and stick with it.”
However allow for adjustments that, like acquisition, will maintain income. One Thomson suggests is to be more responsive, for example getting a letter to a prospect within a few days rather than seven. Using multi-channel communications including e-mail can also help, he says – not only to speed up your communications delivery but also payments, while opening up payment options such as BPAY and PostBillpay.
Another idea is calling from New Zealand. With 180 seats, the Wellington call centre helps increase clients’ returns, Thomson explains, CCA passes on the savings from the New Zealand operations as costs of staffing and overheads are lower than Australia. “We have an increasing number of Australian based charities who are opting to split calling between our Australia and New Zealand sites to improve ROI.”
CCA are always looking at new and innovative ways to improve raffle fundraising for their clients. Thomson says, “We are looking at new opportunities to target and engage with a younger audience”.
Go multi-channel and use pre-qualified leads
Meegan Allender, who is marketing manager of Aspire Non Profit Consulting, affirms that multi-channel communications are becoming a must for raffles and lotteries. “We are coming across more programs that are single channel focused, like telemarketing, which are experiencing declines,” she notes.
“Whether this is due to lack of investment in maintaining the base or that traditional methods of using cold-calling are not working as well as in the past. This is where we are finding, implementing a multi-channel approach with pre-qualified leads generates results that attract less levels of complaint and the investment required is more affordable.”
“Retention is also an important focus these days,” Allender adds. “Regular contact is found to help supporters feel more connected to the organisation and improves the average spend per annum.
And as with any fundraising program you want to perform better, “it comes back to doing the basics right,” she notes. This includes data-hygiene, conversion of one-off to regular supporters, strong analysis and a supporter focus.
“Suit the supporters’ needs not your own,” she advises. “Look at their method of response and act on it. Once you have a better understanding of your supporters it is easier to understand what the supporter expects in return. You will be able to identify which channels work for your supporters and then communicate in a way they are most comfortable with.”
The power of RFM analysis and a cash prize
The chief executive officer of Communication Direct Rick Sillett believes the current economic environment is impacting some raffle results – but he says this can work in a charity’s favour too.
“We are seeing an increase in cash prizes in raffles, e.g. cash, gold bullion, a prepaid credit card,” he reveals. “The public just wants money in their pocket rather than a new car that may not be needed or suitable.”
Choosing a financial prize can not only attract buyers who may be cash-strapped, “the charity often benefits from this change because a cash alternative can be offered at a lower cost to the charity – for example a $25,000 car or $20,000 cash. The cash prize is also often simpler to organise.”
Sillett also reveals that payments from new supporters is becoming harder to secure. However conducting recency-frequency-monetary (RFM) analysis of a charity’s database has been helping Communication Direct to target selling to those more likely to respond. He has seen this increase the number of ticket buyers in the database – the larger, the better, to underpin a profitable raffle into the future – while it can also expand and expedite cash flows.
Why Mater Foundation lotteries win: Scale, regular players and market knowledge
Brisbane’s Mater Foundation runs 26 lotteries a year – the biggest, Mater Prize Homes, offering a house valued at $1.7-$2 million – and they are growing.
Says the organisation’s chief executive officer Nigel Harris, “Lotteries can be sustainable provided the scale is right.” Scale is something Mater has worked hard at. “The growth of Mater Prize Homes, for example, has been for the last five, six years built around programs to acquire regular buyers,” reveals Harris.
He says results are also bolstered by use of multiple communications channels, from the lottery website to mail, phone and e-mail. Another key to success is “working smarter, constantly testing, and finding out what works in relation to our particular supporter base” by monitoring performance analytics, annual surveys and agency feedback.
Retention strategies are another must to combat attrition. Part of that is appealing to players’ investment in both the game and the cause. “If you drop out of the game, it might well be that the next time a game is drawn it is your ticket,” he says. “But the other conversation we build is very much how sustained support of the lottery supports long-term healthcare and research.”