The ‘little bit of fun’ that’s now raised over £50 million for hospice care!

With charities up and down the country needing to raise even more voluntary income to combat the ever increasing costs to run their services, it’s inevitable that entering a new financial year will have felt uncertain and slightly scary for many hospice fundraisers. However, partners of Local Hospice Lottery will continue to receive regular and reliable income thanks to our weekly draw and collaborative way of working. In fact, the Lottery, which began as Farleigh Hospice’s own lottery in 1996, has now raised an astounding £50 million for hospice care across Great Britain – giving its partner hospices a welcome reason to smile this April!

When asked how he felt about hitting this very special milestone, Gary Hawkes, Chief Executive Officer at Local Hospice Lottery, said,

I have a huge sense of achievement, for the whole team. It is a massive amount of money which in turn enables a significant amount of care to be provided to the patients and families of the hospices we work with. I am so proud and happy that we’ve been able to make this contribution.

“I also have a huge amount of gratitude for being able to lead an organisation that has gone from turning over around £500,000 in its early days, to one that now contributes such a vast amount to such a worthwhile cause. It’s very much a team effort and I am thankful and blessed to work with a phenomenal team.”
“When we first came up with the idea for Local Hospice Lottery back in 2007, it was very much aimed at hospices who didn’t already have lottery income. Our purpose was to create a model that meant it made sense for them to work with us as opposed to developing their own lottery. This has always been our key philosophy.

“But there were two things we didn’t really expect to happen at that time. One was the level of growth we saw between 2012 and 2015, after we invested in really growing our face-to-face fundraising. We went from 17,848 game numbers in the draw for six hospices at the beginning of April 2012, to 76,828 with thirteen hospices involved by the end of March 2015. It was like, ‘Wow, this is incredible!’ and the trajectory has continued since then.

“The other thing we didn’t anticipate at the start was that hospices who already had their own pre-existing lotteries would be interested in working with us too. In fact, today, around half of our 32 hospice partners already had their own lotteries which they have chosen to transfer to us in order to raise even more from every £1 entry.

“I think we knew we had something special, but the fact that our model is so beneficial to hospices – whether they run their own lottery or not – is a real testament to our ability to develop our product to meet the needs of hospices in all different circumstances.”

“£50 million is an awful lot of money. Although it’s difficult to quantify exactly in terms of number of home visits or hours of in-patient unit care etc, I think it’s safe to say that this income has touched the lives of tens of thousands of hospice patients and their families.”

The Covid-19 pandemic undoubtedly presented numerous challenges for hospice fundraising and created much uncertainty from the outset. Gary said,

“We had literally just approved our new five-year strategy, ‘Inspiring Commitment’, at the beginning of the pandemic. So, we needed to review that and re-look at the finances. We also needed to pause our face-to-face activity which was unfortunate. We were absolutely adamant that we wanted to retain as many of our staff and contractors as possible and, thanks to support of Government schemes, we achieved this, retaining all bar one or two of our fundraisers who decided to move onto other jobs. And because we had reduced marketing expenditure during this time, it meant that we were able to make a short-term saving and return even more profit to our partner hospices that year. This made a massive difference to them, as so many other forms of fundraising were unable to deliver any income at all during that time. But thanks to the adaptability of our office staff and IT team, we were able to move to home working and did not miss running a single draw.

“We developed additional communications and reassured our players of this, because there was naturally huge uncertainty for them too, in terms of their own financial circumstances. We were really, really lucky, in that our players were so supportive and continued to play – with some even taking out additional game numbers! This made an incredible difference. Longer term, we’ve had to work at re-building the membership and growth that was lost during that time.

“Later, when we were able to continue our face-to-face fundraising activity, changes needed to be made to the software and the ways in which our fundraisers worked and interacted with people, so that they could maintain social distancing. And since the pandemic we have of course found ourselves operating in a very different employment market, which continues to be challenging.”

When asked to recall other key achievements and proud moments over the years, Gary answered,

“The launch with our very first partner, East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH), in 2008. Seeing our initial idea – which was essentially the result of a conversation that took place in a car on the way back from a conference – actually take shape with marketing materials etc being developed was amazing. When the first EACH players entered the draw I thought, ‘Ooh, this is really working!’. That has got to be my very first proud moment.

“When we first started, raising £50 million seemed so far away. At that time there was a Government limit that restricted any one charity lottery from turning over more than £10 million annually. At that point, barely turning over £1 million, we didn’t see this restriction as being a problem for us any time soon. But what actually happened was that we started moving closer and closer to that £10 million cap and we soon recognised that if it didn’t change, we would need to incur over £300,000 in additional costs per year. So, another significant achievement has got to be being part of a team who, alongside The Lotteries Council, successfully managed to get the Government and Gambling Commission to increase the limit from £10 million to £50 million. This has meant that much more of our annual turnover, and that of other charities, can go to the good cause rather than being used to cover unnecessary costs. There’s still more work to do though, as originally the aim was to increase the limit to £100 million. We need to be more future proof – bearing in mind it took almost 10 years to achieve this initial increase!”

When asked what the future holds for Local Hospice Lottery, Gary answered,

“It would be very easy to just say more of the same – as we’ve had such a successful journey to date and naturally we want that to continue. But we want to make even more of a difference. It’s taken us 27 years to get to £50 million (since Farleigh Hospice’s own lottery was first introduced), with over £7 million contributed in the last financial year alone. But at what point could we get to £100 million?

“After so many years working within the hospice sector, I have been privileged to read many patient stories and speak to lots of service users directly. This has allowed me to see the personal difference hospice care makes to patients and their families during their final days together. Ultimately what I want to see is that continued impact that the relatively small amount of just £1 per lottery play adds up to make in so many local communities. And if we get more hospices wanting to work with us because they know we’re offering a really good product that can make a big difference for them as well – then that’s fantastic!”

“Our aim for the future is to continue to grow and to continue being a market leading lottery for hospices. We want to be the lottery of choice for more and more hospices, as we seem to be today. Our intention is to keep sharing those economies of scale which are achieved by so many hospices working together. Sharing the wealth of knowledge and expertise we’ve built up as a team along the way is also a real benefit, especially in what is now such a heavily regulated form of fundraising. All of this means that our hospice partners can receive more income, whilst players get more pence from their pounds going towards their local hospice of choice.

“I’d like to say a huge ‘Thank you’ to our players, as this achievement is a result of them committing to contributing regular support for their local hospice, whilst of course having the chance to win some fantastic prizes too.

“Thank you also to our partner hospices. They have all taken the important decision to work with us and I sincerely hope that we are re-paying their trust in us. The feedback we receive suggests that we are and I am extremely pleased that to date all of our partners have renewed their contracts over the years and have continued working with us.

“Lastly, this is about the team at Local Hospice Lottery who, combined, enable us to make this happen. So, a HUGE ‘THANK YOU’ to everyone that has played a part! It is a phenomenal team achievement and I hope everyone understands that they are helping to make a massive difference and that what they are doing is very important work.”

Local Hospice Lottery’s partner hospices have also been very keen to join in the celebrations, passing on their words of congratulations and thanks;

Kevin Clements, Director of Fundraising & Communications at East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices said,We were actually the first ever partner for Local Hospice Lottery, so it’s a real pleasure to celebrate the incredible achievement of the organisation and being partnered with you. To know that over £50million has been raised for local causes such as ours is just tremendous and it means a huge amount to us and the children, young people and families that we’re providing care for. So, a huge, HUGE thank you to all of you – as players and to Local Hospice Lottery for being such a great partner of ours.

Andrew Leaver, Head of Income and Development at Highland Hospice, said, “So what can I say about Local Hospice Lottery? They are amazing, absolutely amazing! We’ve generated £2.2million in the decade that we’ve been partnered with them and they are a dream team to work with. The supporters/players, week in week out, pay their £1s and help to raise enough funds to pay for five nurses every year at Highland Hospice. Thank you!

Rami Okasha, CEO at Children’s Hospices Across Scotland (CHAS), said,We have benefitted from the generosity of Local Hospice Lottery for almost 10 years. Players and supporters have helped us deliver amazing care to children and families right here at Rachel House and across Scotland. We could not do what we do without you. So, from me to you, a massive big thank you.

Alison Stevens, CEO at Farleigh Hospice, said,Huge congratulations to Farleigh Hospice’s lottery business, Local Hospice Lottery, on their massive achievement in raising over £50million for adult and children’s hospices across Great Britain. When we first started our Farleigh Hospice lottery back in 1996, we never envisaged the growth and development of this lottery business to where it is now. 32 partners, all receiving fantastic amounts of income to keep hospice services going and really making a difference to people who need hospice care. A really big well done to everybody involved. We look forward to seeing the growth and development in the years to come!

Today, Local Hospice Lottery remains hospice owned, hospice led, and with the needs of individual hospices at its heart. And with 32 adult and children’s hospices involved, over 225,000 game numbers entering the weekly draw – and conversations with prospective hospice partners taking place on an ongoing basis – who knows how soon we could be celebrating £100 million raised!

For more information about Local Hospice Lottery and how your hospice could become a partner, please click here.