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In-memory has been described as the ‘poor relation’ of legacies, but we don’t think that’s a fair description! In fact, according to our latest market measurement survey , the in-memory market in the UK is a lot larger than charities appear to be recording, and is estimated to be worth between £1.8bn - £2.4bn per year.

This incredibly resilient income stream was one of the few areas of fundraising that actually grew during the coronavirus lockdowns (even taking excess deaths from the pandemic into consideration), and since then, over a third of adults in the UK report that they have supported a charity in memory. Therefore, it is no surprise to see that charities of all shapes and sizes are starting to take notice of in-memory fundraising and the opportunities this presents for sustainable income growth, growing supporter engagement and even increased potential for legacies.

If that sounds like you, and your charity is just starting to develop an in-memory programme, here’s what you’re going to need.

  1. Someone to ‘take the lead’ on in-memory

We recommend that every charity appoints an ‘In-Memory Lead’, who takes responsibility for driving this income stream forward and ensuring that needs of bereaved supporters are considered at all levels within the charity. This could include anything from writing a dedicated thank -you letter for in-memory donations to planning bespoke stewardship journeys for event participants who are remembering loved ones.

If you’re just starting out with in-memory, this doesn’t necessarily need to be a full-time role; even committing a few hours a week could start to make a noticeable difference very quickly.

2. Senior support

Your in-memory programme can only thrive if there is someone at senior level who genuinely believes in the power and potential of in-memory giving, and who is prepared to champion it - ideally at board level. To be able to reach its potential, in-memory should form part of your charity’s overall fundraising strategy, with a proactive plan for development and resourcing, just like any other established income stream.

Securing a senior champion can make all the difference, and they will play a key role in the success of your in-memory programme. Your champion can help the in-memory team to launch new initiatives, secure additional budgets and keep momentum high, so don’t skip this step!

3. Workplace wellbeing initiatives

Working in in-memory fundraising is incredibly rewarding, but it can also be challenging. Speaking to bereaved supporters regularly or hearing upsetting stories can take its toll on even the strongest of people. It’s important for charities to recognise the need to support the wellbeing of their staff and provide a supportive environment that allows people to have open conversations about how they feel and any support they might need. This could be as simple as encouraging staff to take a break or grab a cup of tea with a colleague after having a difficult conversation. Or, if you have the facilities internally, it may include providing access to counselling services or bereavement support.

4. Inspiring a range of ways to support in memory

A lot of people associate in-memory giving with funeral collections… but there are so many other ways to support a charity in memory! One-off donations, setting up a regular gift, donating on anniversaries and special dates, creating an online tribute fund, organising or taking part in events, buying commemorative merchandise, volunteering, leaving a gift in a will… All of these are great ways for people to give to charity in memory of someone special, and your promotional materials should include as many of these as possible.

If you’re just getting started with in-memory giving, you might not necessarily be ready to launch a brand new in-memory event or product, but you could still think about how you might promote your existing events to an in-memory audience. For example, if you already offer a range of fundraising events, you could promote this to your in-memory audience by offering to print their loved one’s name on an event t-shirt, or produce a dedicated in-memory certificate to celebrate their achievements in the name of someone they love.

5. A way to capture and record the names of loved ones

When someone supports your charity in memory of a loved one, it’s important that you have an effective way to record this information on your database. Wherever possible, you should be aiming to capture the name of the person they are remembering and their relationship to them, and reflect this back to them in your ongoing communications.

Effective and efficient database procedures can also ensure that gifts are allocated to the correct funds and internal teams can be soft-credited (where appropriate) even if the income doesn’t sit within their own department. This is an essential process to give all teams appropriate recognition and keep them feeling motivated.

6.Personalised and sensitive communications

At the most basic level, all charities should have a dedicated thank -you letter that they send when someone donates in memory. For example, you may want to offer condolences or signpost the donor to bereavement support. Likewise, if the donor has told you the name of the person they’re remembering, it is respectful to include this name in your reply, e.g.. “Thank you for your kind donation in memory of your grandma, Joan. We hope it brings you some comfort to know that your gift will help to do X, Y, Z…”

When time and resources allow, we would also recommend developing a dedicated communications journey for in-memory supporters, which includes messaging that reflects their reason for supporting the charity and suggests other ways to remember their loved one. This could include a dedicated newsletter for in-memory supporters that features stories about other people who have achieved inspiring milestones in memory of someone special.

7. Dedicated space on your website about giving in memory

From your charity homepage, it should be easy to find, and navigate to, a separate page on your website about remembering a loved one and supporting in their memory. This is your best, most cost-effective channel for creating awareness of in-memory giving. It’s here that you can inspire people to think about their own personal choices and equip them with all the fundraising and donation tools they need to take action.

Your online information can expose your supporters to the whole range of in-memory opportunities available to them, as well as linking them to and from other related content across your site. At a time of heightened emotion, people really appreciate ‘pull’ rather than ‘push' information that they can access easily, on their own terms and in their own time.

One final bonus tip… Be brave! If your charity is new to in-memory fundraising, it can feel a little intimidating and you might be worried about what to say to bereaved supporters. However, the reality is that many people find it comforting to fundraise in memory of their loved ones, and they value the opportunity to remember and celebrate their lives. Developing an in-memory fundraising programme that allows them to do this in a way that is meaningful to them can be empowering for both supporters and the charities they care about.

If you would like to discuss how we can support you with starting a new in-memory programme or taking your existing programme to the next level, please get in touch.