The Darvel Lottery held its first draw in Jan 2019. Nine months later it has 560 monthly subscriptions from an adult population of approximately 2,000 producing more than £30,000 per annum. It has been incredibly successful, has achieved levels of participation and fund raising not experienced in other similar lotteries, and is now recognised as an exemplar of local fund raising and community engagement.
Why? What makes the Darvel Lottery special and how has it achieved so much in a short period of time?
The first reason relates to transparency of policy making and the continuous involvement of the local community. Decisions, for example about the share of prizes and the distribution of community benefit, are made openly and democratically through discussion, opinion gathering and on-line voting. This builds a strong feeling that the lottery is owned by the community. It’s ours, we make decisions about how it operates, and we decide how best to share the rewards. Community ownership nurtures a desire for success and a realisation that decisions made collectively are important and make a difference.
The second reason is that the Darvel Lottery isn’t just a lottery. Sure, it’s an act of gambling, a vehicle to raise funds and a chance to win some money. But, it’s the only lottery in town (literally) that is focused on local improvements and regeneration.
How funds are spent is based on ‘participatory budgeting’ ensuring that all members have a strong voice on how their money is being used. This develops more community engagement, increases the number of local volunteers and ensures the community sets improvement priorities.
There are three legs to the Darvel Lottery – winning cash, raising much needed funds and making small but important changes to how we live, where we live and to the community which we are part of.
Effective local communications are key to its success. A highly successful Social Media channel was developed alongside the Darvel Lottery. Its remit is much wider than lottery issues. It covers all local community activities, good causes and events. With over 1,000 active members our social media platform is essentially a place where issues and opportunities can be raised and debated. It is a lively place, reflecting the passion and vibrancy the Darvel people have about their community and town, but through diligent administration, it is kept focused on topic and away from some of the less attractive behaviours common in other social media groups.
Most importantly our social media channel is two way – good causes can communicate to the community and the community can make its feelings and opinions known through chat, debate and polling.
All of the above are important elements of success. But, the most important is something more fundamental. Everyone likes to win some cash. Every month we issue £1,000 in prize money with over £800 allocated to the top prize. These are not life changing sums, but members like to see local folks winning and sincerely celebrate each other’s good fortune.
But winning isn’t the primary motivating factor for people who participate in the Darvel Lottery. The stronger, more fundamental motivation is the desire to see local improvement and regeneration. This is often called Incented Giving and is reflected in the fact that the majority of Darvel people support the Darvel Lottery because it creates funds to improve Darvel – the town, community and environment. This was strikingly underlined in the results of a recent survey where 100% of respondents rated ‘local developments’ higher or much higher than ‘winning money’.
Knowing what motivates people to participate in a community lottery is key to its success. It impacts and shapes all communications including social media posts, banners, events and presentations. It shapes the fundamentals of how our community lottery is set up and organised – including the balance between cash prizes and community fund; the way in which it is sold and customers are on-boarded; and, most importantly, the extent to which customers have a say in how local issues are prioritised, addressed and funded.
If you get it right a Community Lottery is a powerful force for change. It rallies people around the whole life cycle of fund raising and giving. It helps to create a vibrant community and channels energy, volunteers and simply people-who-care about their town around a common cause.
The Darvel community supports the Darvel Lottery as they know it is focused on local improvements. Individually, they know they may not win any cash, but collectively they know that they win the prize of an improved town, improved services and a more engaged, more vibrant community.