Each year, the Light Up A Life (LUAL) campaign sees hospices around the country invite people to make a dedication to the memory of a loved one on their Tree of Lights as well as in on- and offline Books of Remembrance, often accompanied by a donation.
It’s a fantastic campaign that not only means a great deal to those who have lost loved ones, but also provides a valuable way for the hospices that cared for them to raise vital funds, and gain new supporters.
While the majority of contributions continue to be made offline, hospices are also increasingly taking LUAL online, often adding these dedications to a bespoke Online Book Company book themselves. However, this year’s campaign analysis shows that online contributions are rising, with the books proving an important bridge for helping an audience more comfortable with traditional paper donations make the transition to digital.
In fact our figures show that overall, campaign engagement is growing, with average gift size and number of dedications rising year on year. They also provide a number of other compelling insights, including how people respond when presented with the opportunity to make a dedication for free, versus a specified minimum donation, as well as gender differences, and successful opt in strategies.
In what is now our second annual survey, we share these insights with you:
Donations & dedications
Overall, the 2018 LUAL campaign saw average donation values rise on 2017’s figures, and many donors create more than one dedication.
Across all hospices, average dedication numbers ranged from 1.4 to 2.3. In comparison, and demonstrating the growing engagement with this campaign, the highest average seen by an individual hospice in 2017 was 1.97.
Looking at average donation value per hospice, we can see that this increased 27% between 2017 and 2018, from £15.82 to £20.20. The range for individual hospices was between £16.67 and £24.17: a significant rise on 2017’s figures of £9.38 to £20.51 – up 77% and 18% respectively.
As with 2017, any minimum donation amounts specified by hospices did not rise above £10, and between 21% and 54% of donors at each hospice opted to give this. However, more chose to make multiple donations and / or top up their gift this year, ranging from half to three-quarters of donors at each hospice, and a significant increase from 2017’s average of 45%. Indeed, 20% of donors for all hospices topped up their donation, rising to 40% for the best performing hospices.
Interestingly, the figures also reveal that hospices offering free dedications saw higher donation values than those setting prices – an average £1 more. Those offering dedications without any price indication or prompt saw an average £13.79 voluntary donation per dedication in 2018. In comparison, the average price per dedication for the ‘must pay’ hospices’ saw an overall average of £12.30.
Psychologically, it seems many people feel better about donating more than the minimum, even when free.
Upsells, where people could ‘buy a therapy’ session or a ‘meal for the patient’ for example, also performed well in 2018, producing an average figure of £30 although there was little take up of those priced over £40.
Donations in numbers:
- Average voluntary donation value per dedication was £13.79, while for ‘must pay’ dedications, it was £12.30
- 20% of donors for all hospices topped up, with average top up values ranging from £8.77 to £36.11 per hospice
- Every hospice except one received at least one individual donation of £100 or above, made using the ‘Top Up’ option
- Most hospices had around 100 donors, ranging from 85 to 142 in number
- Opt ins to Gift Aid ranged from 67% to 100% – similar to 2017’s figures of 68%-93%
Online vs. offline
Unsurprisingly, given that the traditional demographic of those giving has been the widow or widower or immediate family of those that have died, contributing messages and donations to the book offline is the most popular route. Online however is growing and in 2017, 3.5% gave and left messages online, rising to 5% in 2018. This shows that with the typical LUAL donor not being an online-first user, offering offline dedications is important to encourage their support, entice them to try online for viewing and sharing their dedications, and also perhaps to make them this way in the future.
In fact, for hospice Birmingham St Mary’s, a first time user of an Online Book of Remembrance, it has proved invaluable in letting supporters that contribute through offline means both view it remotely, and share with others.
“A great thing about our Online Book of Remembrance is that not everybody who dedicates to the physical Book of Remembrance (that we have on display at the Light up a Life event) is able to attend and see their dedications. Having a way of making dedications online meant that they could be viewed instantly and could also be shared with friends and family far and wide.”
Overall, 2018 saw online donations range from 24 to 236 in number per hospice, and there is of course enormous potential for increasing this as online-first individuals grow older and become responsible for their elderly relatives.
Our analysis also reveals an interesting gender difference. Across all hospices, the majority (between 69% and 94%) of donors were female, and they were far more prolific than male donors, writing multiple dedications per donation. Yet, on average men gave significantly more, at £28.15 compared to £15.88.
Optimising sites and upsells to appeal more to the female audience could help to reduce this difference, such as by including upsells that are more appealing to women as well as gender neutral options – paying for a Chiropodist day visit to attend all inpatients, or for a Reiki session for example.
When asked to opt in to further communications, many donors did so, creating a new and valuable prospect pool for those hospices. Consent for email was fairly high for those asking for opt in to all four channels of email, post, SMS, and telephone in line with GDPR, ranging from 64% to 76% per hospice.
In this digital age, less than half of hospices included ‘post’ as an opt-in option. However, with the majority of dedications and accompanying donations made offline by cheque users, this remains an important channel to include and indeed a significant 28%-38% opted in to it when offered. Over 25% opted in to both post and email.
Conversely, hospices that did not ask for all four opt-ins saw only 38% or less sign up to email.
Encouragingly however, for hospices that included a ‘don’t contact me’ as a fifth opt-in checkbox, just 15% opted out from receiving all marketing promotions.
Results also show it is worthwhile considering adding opt-in options for specific activities at the checkout. For one hospice, including ‘Are you interested in these other activities’ saw over 18% opt in to being contacted on all three of ‘Hospice updates’, ‘Courses and conferences’ and ‘Volunteering opportunities’, while an additional 42% opted for at least one of the above, which suggests potential for recruiting and engaging future fundraisers and volunteers by adding these options: a course with potentially greater value than the donation itself.
The Light Up a Life campaign is producing impressive results for many hospices but with a few simple changes, they could be improved even further, and for even greater long-term value.
It is encouraging to see engagement rising, and clearly with empathetic wording and imagery this can continue to rise. Adapting language and upsells to appeal more to women, and offering free dedications can also work to a hospice’s advantage, while offering offline donations and dedications that can be added to an Online Book not only helps to raise more support but to encourage offliners to consider the online route. As supporter demographics continue to evolve, we predict a rapid swing to donations being made online.
And, when charities of all kinds are seeking ways to increase their supporter base, this campaign has valuable potential for just that. By offering the right opt-in options, it is possible to find more people who might not only donate in future, but who might help in other valuable ways such as volunteering.
This year’s campaign certainly provides plenty of food for thought for fundraisers, and as such, The Online Book Company will continue to monitor and share the results on an annual basis.
(Words by Melanie May)