An “in memory of” or memorial gift is a gift made after the passing of an individual to memorialize and honor their life. Many people make a donation to a charity in their loved one’s name or will ask that a gift be made in lieu of flowers.
What is a memorial gift?
A memorial gift is a gift made in the name of someone who has died. In the world of nonprofits, this is usually done for one of two reasons:
- The nonprofit of choice is one that was loved or supported by the deceased. Perhaps they themselves volunteered there or donated money to the cause.
- The nonprofit mission was a factor in the death. For example, the family of someone who died of cancer might make a memorial gift to a cancer research organization.
Memorial gifts are a great way for a family to honor their loved one and pay tribute to them while helping the deceased’s legacy live on through a meaningful contribution to a good cause.
How to solicit a memorial gift
Memorial gifts can be a little difficult to market and fundraise around. So how can organizations request a memorial gift in a considerate manner?
Here are some tips on getting memorial gifts:
- For starters, make it clear how a memorial gift will be used. Anyone considering making a gift or asking others to in their loved one’s name wants to make sure that the person being honored is actually helping a cause close to them. By making it clear how the gift will help, it makes the decision easier for the family.
- Make the memorial program easy to find on its own. It is probably not a good practice to show up at someone’s deathbed to advertise your cause. However, if you have a clear tribute program with testimonials and an understandable purpose, then families looking to make a memorial gift will be able to find you when they are ready to.
- Remember that people are grieving and always keep that at the forefront of your requests. Let them know the good the gift is doing and how their loved one is still making a difference through their tribute.
Acknowledging memorial gifts
One of the most important things you can do when you get a memorial gift is to acknowledge it. There are several ways to do this.
For starters, make sure you honor the deceased by including their name wherever you thank them. It might be that you have a list of donors on your site where the name is advertised. It might be that the gifts go towards a plaque, bench naming, tree planting, etc. However your program is set up, make sure that you get it done in a timely manner.
Also, make sure that you recognize and thank the donors in a respectful manner. This can be done through a thank you letter where you honor the deceased and let the family know how the gift is being used.
In a situation where the family asks for donations in lieu of flowers, it might be appropriate to let the donor let the family know that the gift was made. In this case, you might want to offer templates, examples, or set up a system where the donor can add their own message to the family that is sent through your program.
When someone dies, the grieving process can be difficult for their family and friends. Knowing that their loved one is being honored and is continuing to make a difference in the world through a memorial gift can be a great relief in this time.
- Bloomerang: [Ask an Expert] How to Publicly Recognize Memorial Gifts
- Fundraising Report Card: Acknowledging Memorial Donations: From the Donor Perspective