Someone paying for something online

 

Written by Jessica Hope

 

This is part one of a three-part series on the relationship between crowdfunding and the funeral profession.

 

Crowdfunding has been responsible for some pretty amazing things: saving a WWII veteran’s home from foreclosure, paying medical expenses for a couple injured in the Boston bombing, and raising money for families of the Sandy Hook shooting tragedy.

 

But not all crowdfunding projects are quite that lofty; an increasing number of families are now turning to crowdfunding sites to cover their loved one’s funeral expenses.

 

The National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) recently estimated that the average funeral typically exceeds $7,200. Conveniently, the average successful crowdfunding campaign brings in around $7,000. When someone dies unexpectedly, or whenever funerals have not been planned in advance, this expense is often difficult for families to cover on their own. It’s not surprising that families want to enlist help from anyone willing to chip in.

 

If the crowdfunding phenomenon is foreign to you, read on to learn the basics — including why this will begin to matter more to your funeral home with time.

 

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How Does Crowdfunding Work?

Like most big ideas, the concept behind crowdfunding is simple. If someone needs help raising funds for a cause or a project, they’re able to post a request on a crowdfunding platform. They can share this posting with their family members and friends, or to any of the 3.17 billion internet users worldwide. Interested parties determine how much they would like to donate, and then submit their donation online. Fundraising campaigns generally last between 30 and 60 days, and popular crowdfunding sites (like GoFundMe) currently route funds back to the organizer.

 

How Often Is Crowdfunding Used for Funeral Services?

Put it this way: a simple search for “funeral” on GoFundMe returned 67,794 results. YouCaring, another lesser-known crowdfunding site, returned 4,413 results. In 2015, The Guardian reported that GoFundMe was “on track for 10,000 fundraisers to collect roughly $20m.” Crowdfunding is not only becoming increasingly popular but increasingly visible and accessible to a larger demographic of people.

 

What Do Funeral Homes Need to Know?

Crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe, YouCaring, Funeralfund, and Graceful Goodbye are all great ways for families to raise money for funeral expenses. Unfortunately, this isn’t necessarily true for funeral homes. The person who sets up the fundraising campaign is the person who receives the funds, and sometimes the money raised doesn’t end up in the hands of the funeral director. Reporting of such incidents is what inspired Frazer Consultants to begin work on a crowdfunding functionality that is integrated with Tribute Pay, the online payment center for Frazer-powered websites. We’ll touch more on these issues in our next installment.

 

Overall, crowdfunding for funeral services looks like a trend that’s here to stay — but funeral homes certainly need to figure out a method for embracing this technology without suffering losses.