A woman smiling

 

Written by Sharon Verbeten

 

As a member of the “Gallon Club,” I’ve seen my share of blood drives. And I’ll be giving blood later this week as part of a major drive at Lambeau Field (home of the former Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers). The Green and Gold will be commingling with red to aid in the U.S. shortage of blood, and I’ll be proud to be a part of it (maybe that cute quarterback Aaron Rodgers might come and hold my hand?).

 

As a mini-pitch here, I invite all of you in the funeral profession to consider giving blood (notice I added the word “consider;” I know it’s not something everyone can do). Or if you can’t give blood, consider making a donation to the American Red Cross in the name of yourself or your funeral home.

 

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Be a Do-Gooder

This is just one way. Here are a few other great socially responsible ways to get your name out there as a valued citizen (and what businessman, funeral director or otherwise, wouldn’t want that?).

  • Business After Hours. You may already be attending your local Chamber of Commerce’s Business After Hours, or some similar event. If you haven’t gone in awhile, think about revisiting. Is there something new about your business? New colleague? New product offering? Expansion project? Why not drop in to say hi to reconnect with old connections and make some new ones. In the funeral profession, as in many others, everyone is a potential client. And let’s face it, networking matters.
  • Pancake breakfasts. No one wants to talk death over their waffles. But making appearances at these local events should be considered an important part of your business. Even if you’re a community institution or your business is in its fourth generation, you’re not exempt. Don’t get lazy. Put on your Sunday best (which for funeral directors is often their daily best), grab a stack of buckwheats and shake someone’s hand. At the very least, you’ll get a good meal out of it.
  • Specialty events. In our town, we have an active Miracle League; it’s a T-ball league of children with special needs. This is a niche group of very active, very compassionate and very challenged families — many very eager to talk about their children. Why not sponsor a team? Some might find it a bit odd or disconcerting to see the name of a funeral home on a jersey, but I doubt they’d turn away the support of a local business? I don’t find it any less palatable than the name of the local tax service or exterminator. Do you? If not a sponsorship, maybe you could offer to pay for team photos, trophies, or participate in another way.
  • Open houses. Has it been a while since you hosted an open house at your firm? Yeah, there will be some people creeped out about touring a funeral home. But throw in some snacks and freebies, and the crowd is always happy. I’m not being flip here; really try to make this a feel-good event for your community. Why not tie in it with the local music on the square lunch to draw people in? Or the local farmer’s market (could you give out a free flower from a market vendor to each visitor?).

Some of these ideas may work for some of you. All of them will not work for all of you. And some of you may scoff at some and say, “Well, we’ve never done that before.”

 

I think thinking outside the box that is the four walls of your establishment is important. And, gosh darn it, if that means eating a few extra pancakes or singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” so be it.

 

Freelance writer/editor Sharon Verbeten has written about the funeral profession — in trade journals and online — for more than 20 years. She lives in Green Bay, Wisconsin.