In-memory fundraising is a promising income stream and any charity interested in legacy fundraising should consider it. Here are some top tips to help you get started from Helen Thompson, fundraising executive at Sue Ryder.
Personalise your communications
In-mem donors are motivated by their loved one - so treating the deceased person as an individual is paramount. Any in-mem activity must be underpinned by solid supporter data, as any inaccuracies could be taken as a slight against the deceased. Nothing will upset your supporters faster that spelling their loved one’s name wrong.
Language, tone and content all have a huge impact on the in-mem donor - so showing compassion and empathy is key. With so much emotion invested in their gift, it is very easy to disappoint your supporters. It is crucial that their experience of the first interaction is a positive one: make your supporters feel that their donation is as special to the charity as it is to them, and this will lay the foundations of goodwill for the future.
Keep the donor at the heart of your communications in the early stages of their journey. Anything that can be perceived as an aggressive marketing technique will alienate your supporters, as they may feel you are taking advantage of their emotional state. As you continue to build the relationship, sensitivity should remain at the heart of your communications - but do not let this stop you from speaking openly and honestly about your cause.
Create a tribute fund
Give your donor the opportunity to create a personalised tribute fund in honour of their loved one, and offer an online space where friends and family can come together to share pictures, videos and music, and to light candles in memory of their loved one. Tribute funds are the stuff of dreams for social networking as they work through networks of personal connections. Managed well, a tribute fund can provide the opportunity to build relationships with whole families, whole workplaces, and even whole communities.
Don't lump supporters together
Grief affects people in different ways. You'll find that some people throw themselves immediately into fundraising, while some will return several years after their loved one has died. This needs to be reflected in your communications programme. Give your supporter time to respond at different points throughout the year, and ensure they get a varied portfolio of ways to get involved.
In-memory specific events, appeals and particular points in the annual calendar can all be used to engage your donor. Once they are involved, ensure they are well equipped with all the fundraising toolkits, materials and guidelines necessary to help them bring in the funds.
Get internal buy-in
Work closely with all of your fundraising teams and weave in-mem considerations into all supporter journeys, whether they are event participants, DM supporters or potential legators. Engage the whole organisation, and embed the understanding that fundraising can be a cathartic experience for your donor, as well as a means to an end for your organisation.
Helen Thompson is fundraising executive at Sue Ryder