Back in 1993, St Catherine’s became the first hospice in the entire country to set up a lottery scheme, as an innovative new means of raising money. Many other hospices and charities followed suit, but ours remains the longest-running hospice lottery in England, and today is one of the main sources of income for the charity with more than 16,500 members.
Here, head of promotions Sheila Kennard explains how the department has expanded over the years – and tells how playing the lottery is one of the easiest ways for people to support the special work of St Catherine’s.
I started working for St Catherine’s as a lottery collector shortly after the idea had taken off and the lottery scheme was in its early days. The children were young and it was an ideal job as I could fit it around the school run and looking after the family.
The charity itself and the lottery operation have grown significantly since then. There are now more than 16,500 members who contribute weekly to the hospice’s lottery, and we also have other initiatives which we manage in the promotions department, such as raffles.
As head of promotions at St Catherine’s Hospice, my role involves working in a small team, supported by wonderful volunteers, to make sure the charity lottery scheme runs smoothly and generates as much income as possible, to help fund the specialist care offered by St Catherine’s.
Promotions covers around 10 per cent of the annual £5m running costs of the charity, and it’s also one of our most important streams of income because it allows us to plan and budget for the future – something which is often very hard in the unpredictable world of fundraising.
That’s because we know we can rely on members paying their £1 each week (some pay more to be in with a higher chance of winning the weekly £2,000 jackpot). We’re grateful not only to our loyal members who continue to support us year after year, but also to our canvassers who help spread the word about our lottery scheme out in the community, and those who go door-to-door collecting payments for us.
We also rely on a team of fantastic volunteers who do a variety of jobs, from carrying out administration tasks in the office, such as processing new memberships into the computer system, to drivers who do rounds out in the community. They visit places such as hairdressers and nursing homes each week to collect money for lottery tickets, which also helps us reach out to more supporters.
It’s thanks to their hard work and dedication that we have seen 500 new members sign up since the start of the year, which is absolutely brilliant!
It’s important to continue developing the service to meet the requirements of our members, and we’re due to offer a direct debit option in the near future, and are looking at relaunching our branding in the hope of attracting even more members, and making the process more straight-forward for our existing supporters.
It means members can pay monthly, quarterly, bi-annually or annually, which reduces our administration costs and results in an even larger proportion of members’ fees being spent directly on patient care.
The role also involves being aware and respectful of our social gambling responsibility, and we are regulated and inspected by the Gambling Commission just like any other lottery in Britain.
Our payroll lottery incentive is another simple way for people to get involved; employers agree to take part and employees, if they’re interested, can pay directly from their wages each month. Companies enrolled so far include South Ribble and Preston councils, BAE Systems, Progress Housing, Places for People and of course, St Catherine’s Hospice.
There are other cash prizes on top of the jackpot, including a rollover which recently reached nearly £4,000 before it was won!
Our annual car raffle is another great earner for the charity, and sees one lucky winner walk away with the keys to a flash new car each summer. This year’s car raffle, sponsored by Bowker MINI, generated almost £40,000 for the charity.
And we have lottery gift cards too – perfect stocking fillers or an ideal present to place inside a birthday card. They’re available in regular increments starting from £10. As it costs £1 each week to play, a £10 voucher will run for 10 weeks, and so on.
Not only is this a way to give your loved ones the chance to win £2,000 for each Friday you pay for them to play, you’re also contributing towards the specialised palliative and end-of-life care we offer people in your local area. As our motto says – playing the St Catherine’s Hospice Lottery is a way to win, and a way to care.
People even ask us to provide lottery ticket wedding favours, which is a lovely gesture for guests and is something a little bit different on their special day.
We can even make personalised cards for you to send with the vouchers, so please get in touch to find out more about this, or for details about joining the lottery yourself.
One final perk to mention is that if your number is chosen by our computer, we post the cheque out to you as a matter of course, meaning you don’t even have to check the results each week (although they are available here for anyone interested in having a look).