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The real problem with big lotteries

The real problem with big lotteries

There’s been some coverage in the last week around the launch of the new launched by Channel 5 and Daily Express owner Northern and Shell. The £50m lottery will be drawn and aired on ITV1 on Saturday evenings. Aside from the obvious fact that this is a competitor to the National Lottery for TV ratings, it raises the question as to whether health charities (and charities in general) will suffer as more competition arrives for the public’s hard-earned cash.

Some believe the second major lottery will be a significant benefit. Voices, like Northern and Shell owner Richard Desmond believe that economic pressures have meant health issues outside of the NHS offering have struggled to keep going and help people who need it. He states;

In the current economic climate it is getting harder and harder to raise money for our local health causes.

And I’m sure he’s right to an extent. From the other side of the fence, Sir Stephen Bubb, Chief Executive of ACEVO, argues that;

It [the Health Lottery] is a disgrace which will undermine the ’s contribution to charities.

But it’s the figures which underpin the amount of money actually going to good causes which are key to my mind; 20p in every pound for the new Health Lottery and 28p per pound for the National Lottery.

That, I believe is the real disgrace.

Both of these are heavily marketed based on the good they will do for society and the causes they support. The organisations deliberately walk a very fine line between for-profit enterprise and philanthropic organisation without every really promoting with equal vigour the fact that the vast majority of ticket sales revenue DOES NOT go to support good causes.

I’m not saying they shouldn’t make a profit, but if these organisations were as committed to supporting good causes as all of their marketing and brand values and launch campaigns and press releases state they are, then a greater proportion of revenue should go to good causes. Put another way, exactly how inclined would we be to give to a charity that spent 75p in every pound on something other than their cause?

Perhaps I’m being unfair to the lottery organisations. Perhaps, deep down, the fact that these two lotteries give any money at all to support good causes is just an added bonus. A bi-product of society’s desire to try and win an absolute fortune every week?

What do you think?

Kevin is the founder of Bottom Line Ideas and has a deep-rooted passion for ideas that actually work in the real world. Those ideas help charities of all shapes and sizes to get their stories and messages to the audiences they need to hear them. And then persuade them to act!

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