What is a Community Lottery?

What is it that is so special about a community lottery and why is it different from any other lottery?

There is something special about a community lottery that attracts a far higher level of participation than any other form of lottery. The question is ‘why’. Why does a community lottery attract the imagination more than any other form of lottery?

It is all about community engagement and seeing that funds raised are directly spent on improving where you live. The chance to win some cash is also important but it is secondary to the benefits seen by the community collectively.

Many small communities and towns across Scotland can benefit from additional funding that is locally produced and managed. Darvel, for example, is a small town with an approximate adult population of 2,500 generating over £35,000 pa from their lottery. The funds go to local good causes and town improvements decided, critically, by the community itself.

Its success is based on combining important factors and other lotteries can achieve the same sort of results.

First, your community needs to be hugely involved in the lottery’s development and direction. Amongst other elements members are asked to approve policies, pricing, fund management and how money is invested in the local town and community. In Darvel’s case this has made some remarkable thing happen – the number of volunteers has significantly increased, donating time and money has markedly increased and a ‘can-do’ attitude has developed across the community with new initiatives sparking up almost every week.

Another important factor is that your lottery needs to be run transparently on an ‘open-book’ basis. This generates trust and confidence that money is being carefully governed, judiciously managed and well spent. Members can see that the money raised is spent on good well-supported local causes. In fact, the members vote on what money is spent on. As much as possible you should adopt the principles of Participatory Budgeting.

You need to be in constant communication with members and prospects using social media and other face-to-face methods. Most importantly, celebrate success together with the community and incorporate the lottery into other important local projects. For example, the Darvel lottery works closely with the Darvel Music Festival, the Darvel Improvement Group and the Darvel Regeneration Team.

Whilst all the above are essential elements of success the most important success factor is that your lottery should clearly be for the benefit of your community. Impact is locally visible. People can see and feel a difference to the town, and they know that the value delivered is optimised by keeping operational costs as low as possible.