This is the first part in a series where we will explore new trends and ideas, their possible impact on funeral homes, as well as the opinions funeral directors have about the future of funerals.
The “Sharing Economy” — it’s changing the face of businesses one field at a time. How are funerals impacted? Let’s talk about the basics and why some are embracing it as the future of business.
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What Is It?
The Sharing Economy is the most recognized name of this new market model. It stems from the peer-to-peer sharing of resources. It really just means you have something I need, and I’ll pay you to borrow it.
Other names for it are collaborative consumption, p2p economy, or the gig economy. It’s become a household name due to ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft being in the news lately. Transportation is just one area where the Sharing Economy has had an impact.
Airbnb is altering the travel industry by allowing people to rent their homes out to others for a short stay. TaskRabbit is a service that matches freelance workers to complete everyday tasks, like handyman work, or helping someone move. There are even examples, such as Lending Club, of the sharing economy making its mark in things like lending and banking.
The Rise of Sharing
Technology now easily links us to networks of people. Tech also links us to data on goods and services easier. Before, you could probably rent a room from a friend, or pay to use someone’s bike for a weekend. But it would be near impossible to do that in any city in almost any country. It’s the ease of access to data and networks that helped the sharing economy’s growth.
What Does It Mean for Funeral Homes?
The newest way funerals are being impacted is by crowdfunding. Crowdfunding a funeral has become increasingly common. Sites like GoFundMe have more than 65,000 campaigns. In 2014, that number was only 8,000.
Crowdfunding has the potential to be a major player for how funerals are paid for. It benefits the community by uniting them around a common cause and also gives them an outlet to share memories and stories. Campaigns often extend beyond basic funeral services and help pay for communal memorial tributes or medical costs as well.
While predicting the future is impossible, it’s clear that the concept is here to stay. According to a Nielsen poll, 68% of participants are willing to participate in this economic model. And Forbes believes that “the equivalent revenue flowing through the share economy directly into people’s wallets will surpass $3.5 billion this year (2014).”