Maximising In-Memory Income: Stewardship

1 June 2022
 | 
Rebecca Noble
Thank you card

Good stewardship is a crucial component of in-memory fundraising. We explore the best ways to promote and encourage in-memory giving from your supporters, and help them draw comfort from their tribute page and funds.

We know that in-memory giving makes a vital difference to charity income. In-memory givers are three times more likely to make a legacy pledge*, and a report** suggests that in-memory donations to UK charities will be worth twice as much in 25 years’ time, even up to £10 billion. So how do you maximise your in-memory donations?

Stewardship

Putting your supporter at the heart of your activities is the key way to offering them great stewardship. Tribute funds are not only a way to help raise funds, but crucially they are a fantastic bereavement support tool and can bring comfort to the families you’re working with. 

A tribute page helps bereaved families to remember their loved ones and celebrate their life, and share these memories far and wide with family and friends easily. Using a page to add thoughts and memories, photos and videos can help them during their grief. 

A tribute page not only allows the family to keep their loved one’s memory alive, but they can remember them on special occasions and milestones, which can be especially difficult to manage. For example, the first Christmas, birthday or anniversary without them can be incredibly hard for the family to cope with. A tribute page gives them a safe, secure space to remember the person they've lost on these special occasions; they can share pictures and light candles, and even add a virtual gift to their page.

Careful stewardship and support of your tribute fund holders is key to helping them get the most from a tribute page, and to supporting their in-memory donations. If families have a good experience and receive good care they are far more likely to become repeat donors in the future.

1. Remember the why

In our experience, the most important thing in connecting with and stewarding bereaved donors is to remember why they are supporting your charity in the first place. In-memory givers are very different to other fundraisers; their motivation is very different, and this needs to be acknowledged, preferably straight away. Don't be afraid to mention the loved ones they have lost, they are likely to be thinking of them anyway and acknowledging them validates their donations and support. Of course, you have to be tactful and careful - even with donors who lost someone a long time ago - but don't shy away from mentioning them, they are the reason your donor is connecting with you.

2. Start early 

It’s often difficult to know what to say when one of your supporters is recently bereaved, but offering them a tribute fund early on can be one way to help them. It offers something practical for them to do and a beautiful way to remember their loved ones. Starting the conversation early can mean the whole family can become involved and they can consolidate all the fundraising in memory of the person they've lost, to see what they have achieved. 

3. Send a welcome pack

It’s a great idea to send your supporters a welcome pack with all the information they need to know, to engage them early on. This can be a simple leaflet or booklet, or even a PDF if your budget is tight. It could include:

  • Cover letter or handwritten card, personalised for your supporter
  • Case study - an example of how another family has used a tribute fund to remember their loved one, and ideally how it has been a positive experience for family and friends to remember that person
  • Clear instructions on setting up a tribute page with links to your website
  • Ideas and suggestions on how to raise funds
  • Information on how funds raised will help your work, and if there is a commemoration event/item that could be purchased i.e. raising £50 helps us send a family a support pack, or £1,000 buys us a new piece of equipment.

You can tailor your pack to suit your available time and resources, but anything you send will help start to build your relationship with the family. If possible, always personalise communications, as this personal touch can make all the difference to a grieving family. 

Top Tip: Bonjoro allows you to send short personal videos via email, really allowing you to add that personal touch for your supporters, as a great alternative to a handwritten card or letter. Best of all they offer free packages!

4. Let them know you’re thinking of them

Tribute pages offer a fantastic reason to stay in touch with your supporters in the long term, and give them ongoing comfort and support as they process their grief. When a big milestone is coming up for the family, perhaps their first Christmas without their loved one, or a birthday or anniversary, you can simply light a candle or add a virtual gift on their tribute page. This is quick and easy, and a very ‘soft touch’ means of letting the family know you’re thinking of them. You can even set up an annual anniversary date alert in the MuchLoved system, so you’ll be notified automatically.

5. Support them in their fundraising 

From a fundraising perspective, a tribute fund allows the family to see all of the funds raised in their loved one’s honour - and seeing this total rise, along with clear information on how this can help your charity can be a great comfort to them. 

Fundraising gives the family something to focus on, and something tangible they can actually do. Often families find focusing on events, activities and fundraising gives them some measure of solace. Try and ensure that the family understand that a tribute fund can act like an ‘umbrella fund’, so all of their activities, including merchandise purchases, event fundraising, regular gifts etc (depending on your charity’s policies) can all be counted in a tribute fund, to encourage them to support you in different ways, and that wider family can participate too. 

Keeping in touch with the family with an annual thank you letter or note including their updated fund total will keep their fundraising fresh in their mind and encourage them to continue supporting your work. If they hit a milestone amount e.g. £5,000, it is also a good way to stay in touch and let them know what their fundraising has achieved. These outcomes can be of great comfort to a family when they see what they have achieved, and this communication can renew your relationship with the supporter.

*https://www.legacyforesight.co.uk/consultancy/news/#giving-tomorrow-legacy-and-in-memory-2045
**https://fundraising.co.uk/2020/01/22/in-memory-givers-three-times-more-likely-to-make-legacy-pledge/

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© The MuchLoved Charitable Trust 2020, all rights reserved. The MuchLoved Charitable Trust is a UK Registered Charity No. 1118590.
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