A History of Charity Lotteries in the UK

Charity lotteries are important in the UK because they provide funding for charitable organisations, raise awareness for important causes, offer an alternative to traditional fundraising methods, and provide people with the chance to support charities, while also having the opportunity to win prizes. This article is going to look at the long, rich history of charity lotteries in the UK.

18th Century

The first recorded charity lottery in the UK was held in the early 18th century to raise funds for the rebuilding of St Paul’s Cathedral in London. The cathedral had been badly damaged in the Great Fire of London in 1666 and required extensive restoration work.

The lottery was authorised by an Act of Parliament in 1710, which allowed the Cathedral authorities to raise £1 million (a huge sum at the time) by selling lottery tickets. The tickets were priced at 10 shillings each and were sold in London and throughout the country.

The prizes offered in the lottery were substantial, including cash prizes of up to £10,000, a silver plate, and other valuable items. In addition, participants had the chance to win annuities (regular payments) for life, which were particularly attractive to those in need of a secure income.

The lottery was a huge success and raised over £700,000 for the rebuilding of the Cathedral. However, there were some controversies associated with the lottery, particularly around the distribution of prizes and the fairness of the draw.

Despite these controversies, the success of the lottery paved the way for many other charity lotteries in the UK and remains an important part of the country’s history of philanthropy and fundraising.

The First Modern Charity Lottery

The first modern charity lottery in the UK was established in 1964 by the Hospices of Hope charity, which raised money for cancer research by selling lottery tickets. The charity was founded by a group of doctors and medical professionals who were dedicated to finding new treatments for cancer and supporting patients and their families.

The lottery was a novel approach to fundraising at the time, and quickly gained popularity across the country. The first prize in the lottery was a car, and there were many other attractive prizes on offer, including luxury holidays, cash prizes, and household appliances.

The proceeds from the lottery were used to fund cancer research and provide support to patients and their families. The charity also established a network of hospices across the country to provide palliative care to patients with advanced cancer.

The success of the Hospices of Hope lottery inspired many other charities to follow suit and establish their own lotteries to raise funds for their causes.

Charity Lotteries in the UK Today

Charity lotteries remain a popular and effective fundraising tool for many charities in the UK today. They are a way for charities to raise funds and support their causes while also offering participants the chance to win prizes, and are helped by managed charity lottery services.

There are several types of charity lotteries operating in the UK today, including national lotteries and society lotteries. National lotteries, such as the National Lottery, are run by licensed operators and raise funds for a range of charitable causes, including sports, arts, and heritage.

Some of the most popular charity lotteries in the UK today include the People’s Postcode Lottery, which has raised over £700 million for good causes since its launch in 2005, and the Health Lottery, which has raised over £120 million for health-related charities since its launch in 2011.


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