Charities' failure to update funeral materials could lead to lost donations

The legacy fundraising consortium Legacy Foresight says too many charities have not updated their funeral support to reflect current circumstances

(Photograph: PublicDomainPictures/Pixabay)
(Photograph: PublicDomainPictures/Pixabay)

Charities could be missing out on in-memoriam donations because too many are failing to update their funeral support to take account of the coronavirus crisis, the legacy fundraising consortium Legacy Foresight has warned.

Giving in memory of a loved one is worth about £2.2bn a year to charities in the UK, the consortium says, with donations collected at funerals accounting for one-third of the total value of such gifts.

Coronavirus restrictions have severely limited the size of funerals and therefore the amount of fundraising that can take place at them, but research by Legacy Foresight found that many charities were not acknowledging this in their material for bereaved families.

The consortium was unable to say exactly how much money charities were likely to have lost out on as a result of this oversight, but urged them to update their communications.

Legacy Foresight reviewed the websites of 40 leading charities and hospices to assess the information they offered. It found that only one in three charities mentioned the pandemic, or the difficulties the restrictions might be creating, to bereaved supporters.

Just one in 10 signposted supporters to government guidelines on planning funerals and the current restrictions, and less than two-thirds offered supporters an online collection page as an alternative to a physical collection at the funeral, with many focusing on inappropriate methods such as collection envelopes, Legacy Foresight found.

And just one charity of the sample offered to support the donor with arranging a future memorial event for their loved one after the pandemic has passed – something Legacy Foresight has predicted will be very popular next year, as people who have not been able to say goodbye to their loved one the way they would have liked seek closure.

In a statement, the consortium said these events would be likely to be uplifting and focused on the things that had been important to the deceased person, including their support for a charity, meaning charities could play an important role in these events.

Kate Jenkinson, head of in-memory consultancy at Legacy Foresight, said: “Charities have an unprecedented opportunity to support families who are planning memorials for their loved ones, but they urgently need to make their information about funerals more agile and responsive to the times.

“Offering dynamic and reliable information around funeral giving – including relevant donation options – is one of the best ways charities can help those who come forward in memory of a loved one.

"It should be a core part of their overall strategy of support in these times.”

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