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In-memory giving market worth up to £2.4bn, research reveals

11 Sep 2023 News

Charities in the UK receive between £1.8bn and £2.4bn a year through in-memory fundraising, according to new research by Legacy Foresight. 

The In-Memory Insight – Remembering Together report shows that the in-memory giving market has grown “significantly” over the past decade and is “a lot larger than charities appear to be recording”.

Legacy Foresight looked at the size, shape and scope of in-memory giving in the UK, collecting data from activities of more than 2,000 members of the UK public and a “learning circle” of 48 leading British charities. 

The report finds that group in-memory fundraising, when three or more people fundraise in memory of someone they have lost, is on the rise, totalling 41% of in-memory income. 

Funeral donations are the largest source of income

The report says that a third of adults in the UK made an in-memory donation last year, with funeral donations remaining the largest source of in-memory income. 

Younger people are key to the in-memory market, “giving higher than average donations”, and almost three times more than what is donated by people aged 65-75. 

Online payments have overtaken cash and cheque payments as the most popular way to give, and there is evidence of newer payments such as through gaming and social-media platforms. 

Over half of all in-memory donations by volume are made to health charities and hospices, followed by “loved-in-life charities”, notably the purchase of commemorative objects and events.  

Group donations are on the rise

The report shows that “donations as part of a group are likely to be higher than donations made by individuals”, mainly because of “the emotional power and logistical benefits that group fundraising can bring”. 

Around half of the surveyed donors believe that a charity knows that their gift is in-memory motivated, but this form of fundraising “often goes under the radar with charities unaware of the activities taking place or that the donation was made on behalf of a group”. 

“We found that groups were mainly engaging with community fundraising or events teams rather than in-memory teams, meaning that the in-memory motivation was often also unnoticed and/ or unacknowledged,” the report says. 

“It was clear that charities are often being held back by their own processes when dealing with in-memory fundraising groups. Structures or systems were frequently not joined up or sophisticated enough to consistently capture information and/or steward in-memory groups differently from individuals or general fundraising groups.

“Being able to identify in-memory groups and record key information supporters share, directly or indirectly, is key to enhancing the supporter experience and establishing guidelines or set ways of working with groups which can help harness their power and maximise their fundraising potential.”

Potential for in-memory giving is ‘enormous’

The report adds: “Bearing in mind that nearly half of adults have lost a loved one in the last two years and a third of adults have given an in-memory donation in the last year, the potential for in-memory giving is enormous. Groups make a significant contribution to in-memory fundraising and being able to steward them effectively could have a big impact for charities in terms of amounts raised and repeat fundraising over time.”

Ashley Rowthorn, chief executive officer of Legacy Futures, commented: “The analysis highlights a lack of joined-up structures within fundraising teams, leading to the group dynamic being overlooked. 

“Being able to identify in-memory groups and record their motivation for giving is key to enhancing the supporter experience and maximising fundraising potential.” 

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