Money and death are traditionally taboo subjects for the British public, but they go hand in hand when in-memory fundraisers support the bereaved and continue to engage them with their charity's cause. Michael Clark talks about the Cystic Fibrosis Trust's in-memory offering…
Online fundraising and remembrance is on the increase, and recent research conducted by Legacy Foresight into social media legacy and in-memory fundraising shows that these channels are powerful in remembrance. In fact, there were over 1,500 in-memory motivated discussions on social media in the week around the London Marathon, which is the Cystic Fibrosis Trust’s biggest single fundraising event of the year.
Advances in research has meant the outlook for those with cystic fibrosis is much better than when the Trust was formed in 1964 – but it can still cut a life too short. The Trust is working hard fighting cystic fibrosis, and relies on the generosity of our supporters to fund the ground-breaking research, campaigning, information and support we offer.
We know that many individuals support the Trust in memory of a loved one, and this is a strong motivation which cannot be overlooked when considering our fundraising approach, in-memory product offering and ensuring they receive an exceptional supporter experience.
Many of our in-memory supporters are under 45 and looking for digital ways of supporting, engaging and raising funds for our cause, which has shaped our in-memory strategy, alongside offline means to cater for the specific needs of individuals.
Meeting supporters’ needs
In 2015, we set about ensuring our in-memory offering met our bereaved supporters needs and asked them directly about our communications and products, as well as how we could better meet their expectations. Using a qualitive and quantitative research strategy, we made contact with 170 of our supporters and established open and free flowing discussions to allow us to put our supporters at the heart of our future plans.
Our research showed a strong appetite for an Online Book of Remembrance and a Celebration of Life event, but supporters were, understandingly, also of the mind that this should be either of minimum value or self-financing. This would allow for fundraised income to support research in the hope that other families in the future would have a more positive outcome from cystic fibrosis.
Our work with the In-Memory Insight Consortium gives us a good grounding into product development, working with funeral directors and the motivations of in-memory supporters. We took their research findings on board regarding in-memory products available in the marketplace, and will be working closely with them on the research they will be conducting with funeral directors shortly.
Our research approach
Our approach to our supporters was to explain why we were making contact, the importance of our supporters and their feedback, and to explain that we wanted to develop our offering. From the time of condolence and ensuring there are platforms for remembering loved ones, to ensuring that our supporters know we are working hard to fight cystic fibrosis, we wanted to provide an exceptional experience and make sure our offering was fit for purpose.
This has contributed to our condolence process, development of a new Online Book of Remembrance and development of our Tribute Fund platform. Sharing stories and remembering someone special is so important; our tribute funds have grown in both numbers – to now over 200 – and in their content, with more pictures and stories being shared among family and close friends. We have received feedback that they allow memories to stay alive as these photographs and stories may not have been shared before.
Fundraising in 2018
The incoming GDPR comes at a time of change in the in-memory sector as tribute funds, online funeral donations and other online platforms help provide bereavement needs. Allowing supporters to engage in different ways, providing online platforms and understanding that each supporter’s bereavement journey is different, shows that a choice of in-memory product is vital.
Whether it’s a tribute fund, an online book, participating in an event or telling their story, we have learnt to widen our offering, to sit side-by-side with our bereavement resources.
We know GDPR will impact us as charities on how we can contact our donors in the future, but we are committed to providing the support, assistance and fundraising potential directly to those upon whom we rely on to fund our work – our committed, passionate and fantastic cystic fibrosis supporters.
We have also gained insight from bereavement organisations on the most suitable language to use and commissioned bereavement training for our teams to ensure we are capable of dealing with situations that are upsetting, life changing and unimaginable for those left behind.
We will continue to strive not only to beat cystic fibrosis for good, but to ensure that our bereaved supporters feel valued, are thanked for their continued efforts, and that we all remember those we have fought on behalf of.
Michael Clark is Gifts in Wills and In-memory Manager at Cystic Fibrosis Trust