At Edinburgh Dog & Cat Home, we recently launched a Mobile Lottery – a weekly lottery that our supporters can enter quickly and easily, using just their mobile phone. The lottery has surpassed our expectations, with over 1,000 players joining in just a few months. In this article we explore why we launched a Mobile Lottery and how we hope to benefit from it.
For almost 140 years, we have been making sure that every pet has the loving home it deserves. If a pet already has a loving home, we want to keep them there wherever possible. This sometimes means helping out owners whose circumstances have changed through our Pet Food Banks or by raising awareness of pet poverty to support lasting change. If that’s not possible, we take pets into our care and find them loving new homes.
Whilst we have been established for a long time and have many loyal supporters, like many charities, we are feeling the pinch of the cost of living crisis. Our running costs this year are forecast to increase drastically and donations are falling due to the increased cost of living. These costs are unavoidable if we are going to give pets the love and care they deserve, so we knew we needed to do something and quickly.
A key priority was to create ongoing, stable income for the Home. Our loyal supporters responded incredibly to our Winter Appeal, which was amazing to see. However, the majority of this income was from one-off donations. Regular income is reliable, so it allows us to cover rising monthly costs and helps us to better forecast our spending.
When considering new solutions, we were mindful of the fundraising landscape. We knew that regular donations were falling, as the cost of living crisis meant that fewer people were able to commit to a regular gift. However, we learned that lotteries were one of the few areas of fundraising still growing, despite the economic climate. We therefore started to explore lotteries as a potential option.
Firstly, we wanted to be sure that our supporters would be interested in supporting us via a lottery.
We investigated different lottery solutions and found that animal welfare charities such as Newcastle Dog & Cat Shelter, Hope Rescue and Margaret Green Animal Rescue were enjoying particular success with Mobile Lotteries run by Donr. As other local animal welfare charities had made lotteries work, this made us hopeful that it would work for us too.
Secondly, as lotteries are subject to regulations, we wanted to be certain that we were doing everything correctly.
Of course, before we take on any new fundraising ventures, we need to be absolutely sure that we aren’t putting the charity at any risk. As Donr has registered a company as an External Lottery Manager, they were able to guide us through the regulatory requirements (we had to register with our local authority and the Phone-paid Services Authority) to ensure our lottery ticked all of the right boxes. We had partnered with Donr before on Text Giving campaigns, so felt comfortable with the guidance they offered.
Finally, we had to be sure that we weren’t committing to something very time consuming.
As a small team, we have to be careful not to spread ourselves too thin by trying to take on too much. We were relieved to learn that, as well as managing the lottery, Donr could run paid social ads on our behalf to help with player recruitment. This meant that the vast majority of work relating to the lottery was taken care of by Donr - from recruiting players, to running the lottery itself.
We therefore decided to give Mobile Lotteries a go and tentatively set a target of recruiting 100 players each month for the first 12 months. In our first month, we were staggered to recruit 456 players, which was followed up by 451 more in the second month. We have now surpassed 1,000 players, so we are already within touching distance of our annual target of 1,200 players - which is worth over £60,000 of reliable, regular income for the Home every year.
The majority of our sign ups have come from paid social ads, which are run by Donr on our behalf. This is where the mobile element of the lottery works really well. The ads can be targeted at potential players whilst they are using their mobile phones. Within seconds anyone interested can sign up to the lottery using just their phone number.
Players just need their phone number to enter as payment is made using their mobile phone credit, or added to their next phone bill. This means that supporters definitely have everything they need to enter at their fingertips. For example, we don’t miss out on players who haven’t got their bank details to hand, as they don’t need them!
We have also started using our organic social media and website to encourage supporters to join the lottery. We plan to test other methods too, such as a mailout with a printed QR code which supporters can scan to visit our lottery page. We have so many ideas for promoting the lottery and feel like we’ve barely started, even though we have already reached our target for this year!
Our early success with Mobile Lotteries is making us very hopeful that we can grow a stable source of income to cover our increased running costs. This will enable us to continue to provide outstanding care for dogs, cats and families. Plus, as it is regular income, we will be able to rely on that income each year moving forwards.
Legacy and Individual Giving Manager, Edinburgh Dog & Cat Home
Ella Wilson is Legacy and Individual Giving Manager at Edinburgh Dog & Cat Home, having previously worked at RNID and Battersea Dogs & Cats Home.