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July 5, 2019 Beyond The Dash

How to Ask for Funeral Expense Donations

Tactfully requesting financial assistance for the memorial service

How to Ask for Funeral Expense Donations
It can be awkward to ask for donations for funeral expenses; just remember mourners are happy to help during this time of need. (Shutterstock)

When a loved one dies, whether the death was sudden or expected, there are always unexpected expenses. For those grieving, it can be a painful process to deal with the logistics of a funeral.


The funeral must go on


Though it's possible to delay a memorial, the body must be laid to final rest within a week or two. No matter what, those directly responsible for arrangements must make decisions quickly. Whether it be cremation, burial or another method of laying the nody of the deceased to rest, payment is usually due immediately. 


Funerals are expensive, running between $7,000 and $10,000 on average. Most people don't have this kind of money handy—particularly where a long illness used up funds toward the end of their life. Unless life insurance or death benefits are accessible to the family, the financial responsibility falls on their family’s shoulders.  


For these reasons, families lacking the savings to pay for a proper funeral service may ask for funeral expense donations to offset the cost. There is no shame in requesting contributions toward the cost of a funeral. While this custom of donating to a bereaved family is common, and expected, in certain cultures, it can be awkward to know how to ask.


Today we are discussing the three best ways to request funeral donations tactfully. 


1. Asking in an obituary 


An obituary is a public notice of a death. It acts as a tribute to the deceased person's life and character, while also announcing the pertinent details of the funeral service. Requesting donations in the obituary is a popular method of offsetting funeral expenses. This type of note should be the last line of the obituary, following the funeral service details.  


It's common to suggest that donations be made in lieu of flowers, so that folks don't feel pressure to bring both gifts and donations to the service. However, flowers can be an important part of the service. Consider the final wishes and character of the deceased person before making this decision. If they were a green thumb, this might not be a prudent request. If you are using donations to offset the cost of memorial bouquets, you may as well allow guests to bring flowers to express condolences!


The one obstacle to using the public obituary as a means of asking for donations is that the obituary itself can cost you anywhere between $50 and $500 or more to publish in a newspaper. There are digital options that represent a low- or no-cost solution. Create a free digital memorial on Beyond the Dash and share it with your network to avoid running up extra expenses during this hard time. 


Create an Obituary


2. A note in the funeral program 


The funeral program or memorial card is another place where expense donations may be requested. Funeral guests can decide at the service whether or not they would like to contribute, without feeling pressure to do so. 


This is also a great place to include the deceased person's obituary story, meaningful verses and an image of them. The more you add the the program, the less conspicuous the mentions of donations will be.


3. Using a crowdfunding website


Crowdfunding websites, such as GoFundMe.com, exist for exactly this purpose. If the cost of a funeral is too much for your family to handle, consider setting up a page in honor of your loved one. By using this tool, the request for memorial donations will not be immortalized on the public obituary or funeral program, and can be widely shared across social media. Using a crowdfunding website also allows those who cannot attend the funeral to contribute from afar. 


The drawback to crowdfunding websites is they usually charge a fee or take a percentage of the amount received for donations. If your family decides to go with this option, be ready to receive less than the full amount of actual donations. 


The bottom line


Don't feel guilty about asking for help when you need it. There's no need to go into debt in order to provide your loved one with a meaningful memorial service. People want to help. Friends and family will empathize with your pain, and might already be looking for ways to make things easier on you. Though it may be difficult to ask, remember your the special life of your loved one and give them a final send-off that does them justice.

Your loved one had a remarkable life. Tell their story, and we’ll publish it online for free.

After creating an online memorial, you can also publish in print in any of over 6,000 newspapers across North America.

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