Bee Ethical Helping to shape the future of fundraising

Revolutionising fundraising: How Bee Ethical changed the lottery world

First thing’s first, you’re wondering what Bee Ethical is…

Well, in simple terms, Bee Ethical is an ELM (external lottery manager) and a digital marketing agency. Our sister company, Bee Ethical Active, delivers face-to-face marketing, tele marketing, as well as operating an attrition management team that has its expertise in after-sales service. 

We also have a training and development department and we are all based in rural East Northamptonshire.

But Bee Ethical is more than that – both companies are built on diverse foundations.

Musicians, journalists, poets, designers, videographers, entrepreneurs, veterans with military intelligence, and people that have loyally served in the NHS and the police. 

There’s even a magistrate to be judge and jury on performance. 

Creativity is at the heart of what we do and, despite our different backgrounds, it unites us all.

And even though we’re relatively new to the world of lotteries, we see that as a positive. We see things with a different lens to much of the industry. 

Bee Ethical may not be experts in lotteries of the past, but we believe we can play a part in lotteries of the future.

So what are we doing?

We know most of you will have never heard of Bee Ethical, but rest assured, we have been busy building, testing and creating.

So, let’s circle back to 2016 when it began. 

It started with research – studying the work of lottery providers and the Third Sector. We wanted to know about lotteries because beyond ‘It could be you’, some of us didn’t know a great deal. 

And we were hugely impressed by what we discovered. 

There were so many great products in the market, as well as amazing life changing stories written by the revenues raised by your charity lotteries. 

We could clearly see why the sector had labelled lottery as the superhero of fundraising.

But we thought it could be better. We thought it could be bigger.

So, Bee Ethical adopted a model that was revolutionary within the industry.

Whilst our software can accommodate any frequency of draw or ticket price, our recommended lottery model is a £10 a month approach.

Why £10 a month?

The impact of this simple difference is felt in all aspects of lottery management and marketing.

The £1 model had been in existence since charity lottery began, yet the cost of running charities, and growing lotteries, through both digital marketing and face to face fundraising, has rocketed. 

Rising prices are a problem facing everyone. 

A basket of goods in the supermarket costs up to 28% more in the past year alone.

And according to the bank of England calculator, £1 is worth less than half what it was back in the late 2000s. 

So to cope with challenges of today, and the future, we felt we needed a different financial answer.

We chose a £10 monthly draw for our first ever product – the Veterans’ Lottery

This was launched into a crowded market by a charity – the Veterans’ Foundation – that was only a few months old.

On paper, brand and revenue growth looked a tall order. 

We had to build the charity as well as its lottery on a very modest budget. 

But grow it did.

First of all the frequency – monthly – made the higher ticket price affordable. 

£10 a month is a sum that people are confident they can pay and know will be making a big difference.

Since we launched, 212,368 people have signed up for a Veterans’ Lottery direct debit.

The frequency – a single draw every month – also means less work and less risk with direct debit collection.

And the £10 per month is also a door opener to a high prize fund.

We are currently preparing to take the Veterans’ Lottery to a top prize of £75,000 from £50,000. 

These are jackpot figures I know some people in the lottery world would like to have.

More revenue, higher prizes, less work, less risk. 

Why we’re doing it

What else does the £10 per month figure allow you to achieve?

Greater reinvestment into new players  – you’re getting more money per ticket – and this is key. 

That extra revenue, unleashed through marketing on social media, can be a game-changer.

The Veterans’ Lottery has grown for 42 consecutive months and in 2024, we believe it will become the biggest single cause lottery ever made

It currently raises £1,070,000 each draw. 

And it’s still growing strong, another 6,000 £10 direct debits in September. 

In total, almost £40 million has already been raised by the Veterans’ Lottery.

How did this happen?

Our digital sales success starts with content creation – high impact video. 

We believe content is king.

We know that powerful real life stories oil the wheels of the Meta algorithm.

If your advertising content attracts extreme reactions – loves, cares, shares, comments – it will be pushed into timelines at a cheaper price. 

Once in timelines for the lowest cost possible, powerful films capable of reaching out beyond your traditional target audience will deliver accelerated growth.

It really is that simple.

A commitment to researching and telling real life stories builds a supercharged back catalogue.

In a single month, up to 20 different creatives can deliver conversions for the Veterans’ Lottery. 

Our cameras never stop rolling, our editors never stop editing.

And the tickets keep selling.

Purpose, not purse

Here’s an interesting fact we’ve established through testing and it will impact most of you reading this:

In our experience, lottery adverts that focus on ‘WIN’ are less successful than lottery adverts that tell emotional real-life stories.

Our evidence says it’s the purpose not the purse that is most powerful.

When we focus our advertising on win messages, our testing has shown we sell less tickets and for a higher cost. 

Of course, it’s possible to convert new lottery players from win adverts but at what price? 

Cost per player acquisition is always moving but in general terms, WIN themed advertising has been up to 40% more expensive than ‘real life story’ video.

As mentioned previously, the Veterans’ Lottery has a £50,000 top prize, soon to be £75,000, which is a significant sales benefit –  it’s the highest in single cause lotteries by some way.

But despite this headline fact, that message doesn’t dominate our online advertising. 

Why? Truth is, we know £75,000 isn’t a challenge to the funds offered by the National Lottery and the Postcode Lottery. 

Let’s play this through with a game of ‘say what you see’.

This is something our marketing teams do on a weekly basis to cut through ‘marketing noise’ and reveal what the general public really see. 

Is ‘Win £1,000 this week’ a powerful call to action when Friday’s EuroMillions jackpot is ‘a staggering 107million?’ 

Say what you see. 

Play for £107 million or £1,000? 

Of course, if you were going to play for money, you’d play EuroMillions.

The £1,000 message can still have influence, but in our experience, it works best when combined with an authentic real-life story from the cause.

‘Win’ adverts do play an important part in our strategy – we have dozens of them as both films and in graphic format – but they have most impact for retarget audiences – people already in your sales funnel.

You have to ask yourselves the question – why do your customers play: purpose or purse? If it’s purpose, then consider video.

How we’re doing it

Bee Ethical is very fortunate to have a direct relationship with Meta at the highest level possible for an organisation.

This has assisted our work as we believe Facebook and Instagram are crucial to lottery player growth.

Meta accepts our high performance results go against their recommendations to advertisers.

And we’re proud to be different.

Some of you might be aware that Meta advises ad automation for its customers. They may have suggested that to tactic to you.

Meta call this CBO – campaign budget optimisation – and they say it applies to whether you are selling trainers and jeans or lotteries and raffles.

Automation works well for large marketing agencies juggling lots of clients’ accounts. It gives them the ability to scale their client base as the adverts require less monitoring, but it isn’t always the cheapest solution.

Bee Ethical has developed a hybrid approach to its social media advertising.

We use CBO techniques together with real-time ad creation and management using our Evergreen strategy.

Think of it as an ad tree that never stops growing and delivering fruit.

Did you know that the benefit of pushing high impact films, into as many social media timelines as possible, goes far beyond lottery growth. 

By publishing video that illustrates the life changing power of the Veterans’ Lottery, our attrition rates reduce. 

It’s one of the best attrition management tools you can have.

The evidence of player impact is consistently broadcast centre stage and it really makes people feel good about their lottery membership. 

Social media comments are full of statements like: ‘this is why I’m proud to play the Veterans’ Lottery’. 

When people are proud to send in pictures of themselves holding their membership cards it tells you that connection is strong.

But there’s more

Digital advertising that is built on real life stories has even greater benefit lottery growth and attrition.

It wins hearts and minds. 

Our focus is of course lottery but it’s always important to help our partners be the best they can be, so we tried an experiment.

Our editorial team crafted an email campaign directed to Veterans’ Lottery players. The offer was common in Third Sector circles – a free will writing service.

That single campaign saw pledges to the charity in excess of £4 million.

Individual donations from corporates who have been inspired by video lottery content have also been a bonus – the largest so far has been $150,000 from a company in the USA.

You wouldn’t get those huge spin offs by building adverts around winning money.

Comments teams play an important role in the digital lottery conversion funnel.

We operate a seven day a week team that reacts to all social comments – it’s much more than a social media police force. 

We aim to ensure that every person who sees our organic, or paid for content, gets recognition. 

That recognition delivers status and helps to constantly build a warm lottery sales funnel. 

It’s a busy job given the scale. 

For years the Veterans’ Foundation has had the highest third sector engagement on Facebook – we are committed to giving Metas algorithm as many positive signals as possible. 

The proof is in the pudding

Earlier I said the Veterans’ Lottery has 107,000 active players. 

Let’s put the £10 model to the test and run some numbers.

Out of interest, imagine we’d signed up those 107,000 to a £1 a week lottery. 

What would that mean to revenue?

On a £1 weekly model 107,000 players delivers £428,000 per month. 

On a £10 model that monthly revenue rockets to £1,070,000. 

A £10 model more than doubles your annual income and future proofs your lottery.

With a company name like Bee Ethical, it is natural for us to have a set of ethical values we work towards, and no doubt all of you do too.

For that reason we wanted a lottery model that was able to achieve a return on investment in the quickest time frame possible.

We knew it was important our ROI would stand up to public scrutiny.

This summer, the Veterans’ Lottery CPA (cost per acquisition) for new players has varied between £22 and £39.

That’s a return on investment inside four draws.

Every charity and organisation will have its own story and set of figures as we’re all so different.

But hopefully you can see that this £10 model, when delivered correctly, may appear to be just one piece of the lottery jigsaw, but it can completely transform the picture you are building.