Charities urged to update funeral support in line with Covid-19 restrictions

Coronavirus has had a catastrophic impact on UK funerals this year. Memorial deprivation is now affecting thousands of families who have been unable to attend funerals or give their loved ones the send-off they would want for them due to funeral restrictions.

In-memory motivated giving is worth c£2.2bn a year to UK charities; funeral collections account for half of all donations and a third of the total value of gifts made in-memory.

In research carried out earlier this month, Legacy Foresight reviewed the websites of 40 leading charities and hospices, to assess the information offered to supporters around funeral giving.
The results:

• Only 1/3 of charities made any acknowledgement of the coronavirus pandemic to their bereaved supporters, how difficult this might be for them and how the restrictions might be affecting their needs
• Only 10% signposted supporters to the latest Government guidelines on planning and attending a funeral – including up-to-date news on restrictions
• Just one charity offered to support the donor with any future/‘compensatory’ memorial event that they might be considering for a later date
• Less than 2/3 of charities were offering supporters an online collection page as a timely alternative to a physical collection at the funeral – focusing instead on methods that are (at least temporarily) redundant, such as collection envelopes

Legacy Foresight predicts that the combined impacts of memorial deprivation, lack of adequate funeral experience and closure, could cause a new wave of ‘compensatory’ memorial events in spring/summer next year or as soon as restrictions are lifted.

These memorials could be more uplifting, with the onus on celebrating how the person lived their life, rather than on how they died. If their loved one was a supporter, charities could have an important role in supporting families at these events. Key to this could be offering an actual presence – or charity collateral – on the day itself, and offering fundraising platforms to help celebrate, memorialise and fundraise in memory of the loved one.

Kate Jenkinson, head of in-memory consultancy at Legacy Foresight, says:

“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.”

Since lockdown began, many funeral directors have been proactive in offering families the option of an online funeral notice, allowing them to collect donations.

Online platforms like tribute fund pages are increasingly sought out to memorialise loved ones and donate in their name.

Jonathan Davies, Trustee of MuchLoved, adds:

“Commemorative postings on MuchLoved tribute pages have more than doubled since COVID-19 started as bereaved families suffering severe funeral restrictions look for ways to grieve and share memories. With cash or cheque collections often not possible, online donations on the pages have also doubled, showing the continuing desire to support charities in response to a death. With the ongoing impact of COVID-19, we believe there is a particular need and opportunity for charities at this time to reach out to their supporters to provide information and assistance with bereavement, both at the time of the funeral and in supporting them afterwards”.

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