1. Consider why you are doing this
When you are initially planning to provide an online memorial, consider why your charity wants to do this and how your brand fits into this service.
This can form the basis of what you feel your memorial should provide to users.
Figuring out your key motives can drive you to gather support from funders/donors, especially if you are working on little or no budget.
2. Get support for your project
Make the most of the existing networks that you have to gain support for your project and connect with individuals who can guide your project. Having a network in place as you start the project is really important.
3. Set up a project board
This can comprise both external volunteers and/or experts, as well as your own team. As a board, you can begin to brainstorm the tricky questions, such as what is required to accept a memorial on the site?
Decide on a project board manager who has experience in leading a project, so that you have a dedicated member of staff to give the necessary attention to the project.
Other members to consider having on the board include someone to assess and manage risk, as you need to be ready if the project fails or falls short.
Have external experts available, such as technical teams or those who have more experience in dealing with subjects like grief.
Ensure that your media and PR team are briefed on the project to carry out far-reaching comms to make the memorial as inclusive as possible.
Having one or two key donors on the board is helpful not only for funding but also because they widen your network depending on the needs of the project.
4. Choose software
Be mindful of busy periods of processing the memorials – you may need more of your team to process submissions during these times and you’ll want software that is easy for everyone to use. You also want software that designers can easily make changes with.
Through WordPress, you can receive submissions in an easy format to gather information and consent that’s needed from users.
It also enables organisations to gather and retain user information such as email addresses. This can help simplify and automate the data collection process.
5. Keep your users safe
Consider risks that may be involved for the families of those departed and how you can mitigate these risks. For example, you could make it a requirement that the death certificate number is included when people want to submit a person to the memorial. This can help people stop and think about their intentions and also reduce the likelihood of any false deaths being posted.
Be aware that families can disagree on having their departed on an online memorial service, and to be respectful of those who do not wish to have their departed loved one on the site.
Some individuals may be grieving heavily to the point where they may require external help. You can put together a list of charity partners or services that are there to support individuals with their mental health and bereavement.
6. Keeping in touch with users
Consider dedicating a member of staff to the project once it is live. They can respond to queries from users, process inbound requests, and manage social media platforms to maintain connection with users.
Many users who are using your memorial service may be at the beginning of a supporter journey. Consider how you can build a continuous journey with the user to validate their grief in a delicate way. For example, you can offer them a membership for free that gives them support and benefits such as updates on the project or additional material, such as digital content and podcasts, that forms a supportive community.
While you have these contacts, you should also refrain from hard selling or pushing donations.
7. Keep your service ongoing
A memorial can sometimes be produced as a reaction to something that has happened. By keeping it an ongoing service, you can move away from it being reactive and consider the legacy.
People grieve at different times, so having a platform that will stay up indefinitely is more realistic with the behaviours that people show when they have lost someone they love.
Consider how you can enable something to happen that will be visual and powerful as a feeling of rounding off for mourners. For example, holding a physical event or memorial but ensuring that these are recorded and distributed for people to see online.
Many thanks to St. Paul's Cathedral for contributing this recipe.
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