In-Memory – for those we love.

Driven with purpose, and busy delivering much needed services, charities struggle to find the time, and often courage, to ask supporters to donate. The pressure of finding the right words when someone has lost a loved one often means in-mem strategies are avoided.

The charity sector faces many challenges and one I keep coming across is the nervousness around asking for money. However, in-memory donations account for 8% of total known voluntary income in the UK and up to 30% including all ‘invisible’ donations*. With a post pandemic shift towards digital engagement such as online funeral donations and tribute funds, there is also a huge opportunity for growth. 

So how do we build an effective in-memory approach? Start by understanding that it is not a one-off ask in return for a name on a wall. In-mem is just one part of your overall stewardship strategy and by cultivating strong relationships with your supporters and their families in all areas of engagement, you will ensure your charity is considered when the unimaginable does happen. 

My son was given some money from his late Gt Grandad and his first question (after the jaw drop) was if he could donate some of it in his memory to a charity. When I asked why he’d chosen the charity he did, he quietly said it was because they’d been raising money for them at school and they helped Gt Grandad when Gt Nanny died. It surprised me that even at age 9, he was able to connect with a charity so much that it came to mind when he made the decision to donate.

Woman sitting at a table with hands around a cup of tea.

Health and Hospice charities see the biggest in-memory contributions as they have supported loved ones in their last moments. The emotional connection between the donor and these services is incredibly powerful as they are often there to support the families as much as they do the patients. 

But often the act of donating in-memory is not just a spur of the moment decision, but built over time watching their loved ones passion for a charity or cause. Donating to a ‘loved-in-life’ cause can be extremely comforting and your charity can play a small part in helping your donor through the grieving process. Grief is unique to every single person but when you lose someone, the act of donating in-memory sees their name live on.

“When a person adapts to loss, grief is not over, Instead thoughts, feelings, behaviours related to their loss are integrated in ways that allow them to remember and honor the person who died. Grief finds a place in their lives”

Brené Brown, Atlas of the Heart 2021

So how can your charity help the donor to talk about the one they’ve lost, celebrate their life and show how they’ve been able to help? 

Young girl with her head on her Grandad's lap, sitting on a bench in a park.


When you lose someone, they are in your thoughts every single day. Having a space to sit and think about them, talk to them, is important. Memorial benches, trees and plaques give the donor a space to go if they’re struggling to cope, especially if that place means something to that person. Online tribute pages are becoming increasingly popular as a private space to share memories and remember how much they were loved.

Three ladies with their arms around each other.


Charities can give donors a platform to celebrate their loved ones, a platform to connect with other people who have suffered the same loss and be part of a supportive community. Explore creating online groups, organise virtual or in-person events and other ways to bring people together. 

A collection of tealight candles, lit up in memory.


Share with your donor how their loved one is being remembered in a meaningful and thoughtful way and how their donation made an impact. Keep your data up to date with names of loved ones and amounts donated so you can be sure to communicate sensitively.

Two people holding hands.


Give without expecting anything back. Just check in, asking if they are ok with no request for money or time. Create content that will interest them or share a story you think they might like. And don’t forget to say thank you. They’ve supported you, now it’s your time to give back.

You have the opportunity to make a difference to your supporters, but also to the financial stability of your charity.

Donors who have given a gift in-memory are three times more likely to pledge a legacy to the charity than standard regular donors* so with the right approach you can create a supporter for life.

PS. Start small
Giving gifts to charity to celebrate the loves of those still with us is a really accessible way to introduce the idea of giving in tribute – a gift for an 18th birthday, or a special anniversary or to teachers for a christmas present instead of chocolates. With a quick and easy online process, you can acquire new supporters to start their journey with you.

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