Collectively the sector is facing challenging times. To try to support you in the best way we can, we’re reviewing our recent projects to share the learnings most relevant and helpful today.

These eight ideas are updated lessons from our 2017 In-Memory Insight research on the use of social and digital media in memory; focusing on the very tools that can connect us in these socially distant periods.

1. At a time when so many remembrance opportunities have been shut down, social and digital media channels remain open and upbeat

As part of our work, we conducted listening research. When we listened to all the online conversations taking place around in memory and remembrance, they were mainly about celebrating and commemorating a life. The sentiments expressed were overwhelmingly positive. Today, we hope that these channels can still be happy places for people to go – places where they can remember loved ones at their best.

2. Bereaved people look for support and advice online

Almost certainly now more than ever, as bereaved people navigate their way through such a difficult time. We found that forums were especially popular – sites like Mumsnet and football forums, were where people sought advice on planning remembrance events or activities. If you are trying to better understand the help that supporters may need – or to see the remembrance ideas being discussed – a trawl of forums would be a good thing to do.

3. Tribute Funds are important places of remembrance

We found that supporters went to Tribute Funds – almost as they would do a physical place – to share memories and photos and to remember their loved ones on special anniversaries. Some felt that charity spaces were more spiritual and private than ‘public’ spaces like Facebook – spaces where they could share with family or friends in a more meaningful way.

Our recent research looking at the impact that the pandemic has had on in-memory revealed tribute funds to be rising stars. With tribute fund income increasing for over a third of charities, and 38% reporting an increase in the number of gifts.
If you offer Tribute Funds to supporters, now is the time to help families keep memories alive. Take a good look at where and how you promote them and how they can support remembrance.

4. The healing power of fundraising is currently diminished. What can you offer?

Bereaved people told us that fundraising in memory gave them a focus and a purpose and helped to keep their loved one’s memory alive.

Right now, physical events and other fundraising activities are on hold, and in memory supporters will miss them. So, think about whether events can become virtual, or whether you can create virtual products. Or whether supporters would prefer to forego birthday gifts in favour of donations. Handled sensitively, such asks can help in memory supporters to maintain the positive momentum that makes them feel good.

Charities are thinking very creatively about virtual fundraising – there are some great examples from hospices here.

5. Communities pull together in a time of crisis and social media can aid fundraising

We know that many charities are having success with emergency appeals at present, and these too, offer opportunities for in-memory support. We have also seen communities pull together in numerous ways at this time of crisis, particularly to support much-loved local causes such as hospices and of course, the wonderful Captain Tom’s fundraiser for NHS charities.
We learnt from our research about the power of social media – Facebook in particular – in galvanising support, sharing personal experiences and facilitating local fundraising. So, if you are a local charity, consider diverting resources into social media to build support and encourage communities to take action.

6. Bereaved people have lost connections to their loved ones. You may be able to help

Bereaved people found comfort in the places, objects and practices that connected them to their loved one. Some of these connections – perhaps a place of remembrance – may now have been cut off. But if the loved one was a charity supporter, fundraiser or volunteer, the charity connection is part of their story.

Think about what you can offer to family and friends to help their grieving process. It might simply be a link to your charity via social media or newsletter updates. But it might also be information about the impact of their loved one’s support. Or photos – of participation in events, or volunteering. Whatever emotional collateral you hold, it can make a difference, particularly now.

7. Bereaved people are currently socially isolated. What role can you play?

Despite online and social media connections, bereaved people are distanced from their family and friend networks. We learnt from our research how vital those networks were – the bereaved took comfort from the people who knew their loved one or had been through a similar experience. This support has largely disappeared. If you can call or email bereaved supporters to offer a friendly ear, we are hearing that such contact is often welcomed.

Dying Matters launched a campaign to encourage people to come together to remember those who have died. Marie Curie has asked people to #UniteInMemory for those who have died during the pandemic. is there anything else you can do help supporters remember their loved one with others?

8. Connecting up supporters can make a big difference

We learnt that some in memory supporters – particularly catalyst donors – had been connected with other supporters. This could happen informally – if connections were made through charity social media sites – or formally through charity schemes.
Whatever the mechanism, sharing experiences with others who were in the same boat was a very rewarding experience for supporters. At a time when your staff are stretched and perhaps overwhelmed emotionally, is there anything you can do to mobilise the power of supporters in giving comfort to others?

If you need more guidance on stewardship, we share vital lessons in our latest research, which you can request here.

Moving forward, we will be looking at how fundraisers adapt to the new in-memory landscape after the pandemic. Please get in touch with Caroline Waters if you are interested in finding out more

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