Traditionally fundraising has often had an English, Christian or secular focus, but our society is changing. Meg Abdy from Legacy Foresight, analysts of the legacy and in-memory sectors, shares her practical tips for developing sensitive legacy and in-memory fundraising campaigns in an increasingly multicultural world.
Legacy and in-memory giving are long-established funding sources for British charities, contributing £4-£5 billion a year to good causes. But British legacy and in-memory fundraising are rooted in implicitly Christian or secular world views, which have little relevance to some parts of society.
Nowadays, for many of us, ‘faith’ does not play a large part in our day to day lives. But at key points – such as births, marriages, and above all deaths – we fall back on the teachings, traditions and rituals we grew up with. For many of us those teachings, traditions and rituals are broadly Christian; but for others they are not. Today, around 8% of the British population is from a minority faith group – by 2050 that is forecast to double to 16%.
Over the past six months we have been conducting fundamental research into the legacy and in-memory giving behaviour of four British faith populations: Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and Jews. Our research is a toe in the water at this stage – it will take much more research and many more conversations to understand the issues fully. But it has already provided some vital insights about these faith groups’ giving and their potential for charities, which we are presenting at the Institute of
Fundraising’s (IoF) annual Convention. Plus, there are seven more general lessons about engaging with minority faith groups, which I’d like to share with you here.
1. Don’t generalise
It’s both naïve and insulting. There are huge differences between different faith groups, as there are also huge differences within them. So while the ‘BAME’ acronym may be useful shorthand, beware lazy thinking. Successful fundraisers recognise and respect the differences between supporter segments (whatever those segments are based on) and adapt their communications appropriately.
2. Understand and respect
Whether it’s developing a legacy awareness campaign aimed at the Muslim community or encouraging more in-memory donations from Jewish families, take your time. Legacy and in-memory giving are highly engaged forms of giving, based on deep trust and emotional connection to your cause. You have to start from a point of genuine two-way engagement, not as a money-making exercise. As one hospice fundraiser in a diverse neighbourhood put it “You need to turn up genuinely and whole-heartedly, rather than coming it looking at what you can get. What can you give, in partnership?”
3. Employ fundraisers from the communities you are reaching out to
As one Muslim major donor fundraiser put it “To focus on what matters – and to avoid offence – you must understand the culture.” You can never hope to convince people to support you unless you can see the world through their eyes. We would argue that the best way to do this is to work with people from that world. That’s why we are so excited about the Change Collective’s important drive for an equal, diverse and inclusive fundraising profession.
4. Plan your strategy with care
Ask yourself, which communities are most relevant to my cause? By location? Why and how would they support my charity? And what benefits can we offer them?
5. Tailor channels, media, messages and language appropriately
Whether you’re dealing with an older audience who speak little or no English, or a second generation population, find the communications channels and formats to suit. Once you know what you are after, there are a range of specialist agencies who can help you devise and implement your campaigns.
6. Build relationships with third parties
Why try to forge connections unilaterally when you can work with and through other experts? Specialist solicitors and funeral directors may not directly influence which charity their client donates to; but they understand their motivations and may
encourage them to consider a charitable gift. Schools, community groups and places of worship have strong connections with their local population; are there ways you can help each other to achieve your goals? Likewise, faith-based charities; rather than seeing them as competition for donations, how can you work together to channel those donations to best effect?
7. Integrate across the whole organisation
Legacy and in-memory giving don’t operate in a vacuum. To resonate with potential donors, you need heart-felt and consistent commitment across all parts of your charity – from service teams to community fundraising to major donors.
Ultimately, success in legacy and in-memory fundraising is about the entire charity experience.
Getting in legacy and in-memory fundraising right takes strategic thinking, real understanding and respect. And, vitally, it means the fundraising profession must be diverse and inclusive, and reflective of UK society as a whole. That’s why we’re proud to support the IoF’s Diversity Access Fund, providing bursaries to ensure more people are able to attend and, most importantly,
contribute to the 2019 Fundraising Convention.
Meg Abdy will be presenting Legacy Foresight’s new research on legacy and in-memory fundraising in multicultural Britain at the Institute of Fundraising’s Fundraising convention on 1st July at the Barbican.
Legacy Foresight is proud to support the IoF’s Diversity Access Fund.
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