The word is that raffle income is either flat or falling. Liz Henderson lends an ear to the industry experts to discover their ideas for ratcheting earnings Raffle ticketsup a notch.

For a host of reasons raffles tend to be mature programs that are part of an organisation’s ongoing fundraising mix rather than an area where new charity players venture. The positives of this are that infrastructure and processes are tried and tested, and the database is well established.

On the other hand, it’s easy to fall into a rut, always following the same old steps that have worked before. But the experts say trying something new is the key to breathing life back into this income stream. 

Getting out of the profit doldrums

As the chief executive officer of Communication Direct, Rick Sillett has lots of conversations with people about raffles. “What people have been finding is that fundraising is tough and many raffles aren’t achieving what they used to once upon a time,” he reveals. “People talking to us are saying we used to make more.”

In Sillett’s view, inertia is the enemy – and organisations have to fight to keep being innovative and win support from players. “If a charity is up to its 50th, 60th or 70th raffle, what you have to be careful of is not to just pull the data off the database and start calling, without thought going into who you’re calling first, when you’re calling them and what message you will give to these people,” he says. “Maintenance of profit needs to be found from within the database or through changes to the product.”

“If you’re not really taking the time to analyse the data and seeing how the product can be freshened by ticket size, prizes, book sizes,” he adds, “there’s a chance your raffle income will decline.”

A simple tactic that Sillett has used to good effect is changing the time of calls or the time between calls to get a higher contact rate with lapsed and active supporters. With one new client recently, this technique “has led to what is looking to be a 100% or more increase in net profit over five years,” he says.

Acquisition to push up income, online to cut costs

One obvious option for getting more from your raffle product is branching out from the holding pattern of renewal campaigns into acquiring new players. This strategy enables growth or at least maintenance of flagging income.

“Raffle fundraising is a great acquisition tool because it creates a simple interaction with the general public about supporting a cause,” says Ben Crabbe, director at Contact Centres Australia – a call centre with a strong raffles service stream. “The raffle ticket price point is reasonable and the donor has an opportunity to not only support the organisation but to win a suite of prizes.”

The broad appeal of raffles can be the ticket to a charity realising significant expansion, beyond just replacing lapsed players. “Some of our clients started a campaign either in house with their own staff or at events and shopping centres,” says Crabbe, “and we have helped some grow their raffle from state-based only fundraising to having a national fundraising presence.”

Crabbe also mentions having an online strategy as a useful tool now at an organisation’s disposal and says this can increase net return by reducing the need for follow-up calls and reminder letters. Plus it caters to player choice and opens up a greater number of opportunities for making a purchase. “Providing donors with the option to pay for their tickets online via a unique purpose-built raffle portal allows donors to fulfil their ticket pledge at any time of the day,” Crabbe notes.

Even just by offering online payment options, such as PostBillpay and BPay, Crabbe says, “our clients have seen a significant lift in conversion rates.”

Segmentation divides and conquers

Trying segmentation in volunteer-style raffle renewal campaigns has led to over-target income recently for charities including Arthritis Victoria, SIDS & Kids, Scope and the Mental Illness Fellowship.

Joe McKenna, Apple Marketing Group’s account manager of raffle, donor and regular give programs, says the technique involved segmentation of the charities’ renewal donors into groups based on transaction history and purchasing behaviour. With a tailored approach for all groups, sales calls converted at an average increase of 5% per conversation made, says McKenna. As well as improving income, this saved time and printing costs, as tickets were not sent out to people who wouldn’t sell them.

Also, including a credit card ask for some segments led to an uptake of credit card purchases over the telephone that allowed money to be banked earlier and helped with cash flow. “It was the very first time these customers had been asked upfront for their credit card details and about 40% said yes, they would support they raffle and do it right now over the phone,” says McKenna. “It was a real win for the clients and us.”

Liz Henderson is the editor of Fundraising and Philanthropy Magazine

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