Funerals allow us to come together and honor our loved ones in a memorable, meaningful way. Funerals and memorial services also play a crucial role in the healing process that cannot be understated. Some companies like GatheringUs even specialize in virtual end-of-life services, and have specialists who can guide and support you through the planning process.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Step 1: Be Open and Honest
- Step 2: Explain the Significance
- Step 3: List the Expenses
- Example Wording for a GoFundMe Funeral Fundraiser
However, it’s all too common that families (in the midst of mourning, no less) fear they cannot afford to handle even the most basic financial responsibilities that come along with death — let alone the cost of a funeral.
Believe it or not, crowdsourcing is a fantastic and meaningful way to connect with your loved ones to cover the cost of a funeral. Not only that, other friends, contacts, colleagues, and even strangers to your loved one can show their support and pay it forward.
However, there’s an art to doing so, and we’ll help you navigate the sometimes tricky environment of asking for donations and how to ask for funeral expenses via GoFundMe.
Step 1: Be Open and Honest
When starting a GoFundMe for a funeral, you may wonder if it’s the right environment considering some of the other content you may see on there. However, if you begin this endeavor by being open and honest, you should have no issues.
Really, a GoFundMe is a user-friendly, effective way to complete your seemingly impossible mission of paying for a funeral without any money. We’ll continue providing tips in the section below, but much of your success will come down to the information you provide and how you go about it.
When setting up your GoFundMe for any case, especially a funeral, transparency is key. Put yourselves in your donors’ shoes. They’ll likely be asking a few of the following questions.
This should help guide you as you fill in details and write your fundraiser description.
- What is the importance or significance of this fundraiser?
- Why is this person using GoFundMe in addition to or instead of personal finances?
- How will my donation be used?
- Why is my donation important?
- Who exactly is my donation helping?
Step 2: Explain the Significance
After asking yourself the questions above and brainstorming some answers, you’ll likely be in a better spot to start filling in your fundraiser’s details. As we mentioned before, there’s a wrong way to go about any sort of crowdsourcing endeavor, but even more so if it involves the death of a loved one.
For others to actually donate and not merely consider donating, you must make your case a compelling one. Granted, you may not need to convince people in your immediate family, but the more care and time you put into it, the better your results will be.
As you’ll find on GoFundMe’s tips for asking for donations for funeral donations, the length of the fundraiser’s description often plays a role in how successful the fundraiser is. This is general advice from the site, not just in regards to funerals, as you can find in their article about how fundraiser descriptions influence donations.
Explaining the significance of your fundraiser is just a way of saying you need to help others understand how important your request is — how important your loved one was to you, how important it is to honor him or her, and so on.
Donors will likely assume or understand it’s about so much more than money, but you can do your part to assert this further. It may help you be specific and share a story about your loved one rather than try to write an entire biography of their life. You may also be interested in tips for how to write a great obituary.
Step 3: List the Expenses
One of the best ways to help others understand why their donation is important (and necessary) is by listing out the expenses you wish to cover. Some people may not understand how expensive even basic funerals can be.
It’s hard to come to terms with planning a funeral at any stage of your life or the life of any loved one. However, being proactive about these expenses and even making prepaid funeral plans can go a long way.
You should rest assured, too, that there are rules in place to protect you when it comes to hidden funeral fees. That is, it’s required by law, often referred to as the “Funeral Rule” and the Code of Funeral Conduct, to disclose costs as much as possible.
The information you’re entitled to because of these regulations will be crucial as you’re planning your loved one’s funeral and relaying this information to others via GoFundMe. These regulations require funeral homes and related services to itemize all prices and provide them accordingly upon request.
Some of these services may differ depending on your family’s religious and personal preferences. You may also not consider all of these expenses as part of the funeral, but they relate all the same. You should prepare to pay for:
- The funeral home and associated costs: Ceremony, embalming, staffing, hearse or car services, printed materials, musicians or singers, etc.
- Burial or cremation costs: This may include a casket, urn, plot, etc.
- Flowers, food, and more: It’s rare that a funeral doesn’t incorporate flowers to some extent. However, you can keep flowers and reception costs low with some savviness.
Example Wording for a GoFundMe Funeral Fundraiser
If you’re wondering how to word your fundraiser or how to write a compelling description, don’t worry. You don’t have to be an award-winning novelist to do so. A good rule of thumb when formatting these descriptions, according to examples provided by GoFundMe, is to think of it as a letter.
You’re essentially writing to potential donors and why he or she should donate to your cause. You should keep the tone conversational and sincere. Use your judgment when it comes to making lighthearted remarks and the like — this may not be the right environment to do so. Feel free to use the following examples as a template or jumping off point.
Subject line: Funeral for [First and last name]
Dear friends, family, and [descriptor/location] community,
It is with a heavy heart that I am announcing the death of [First and last name]. For those of you that knew [him/her], you knew that [he/she/they] was a fighter. [Name] fought till the very end — so much so, that none of us thought it was the end just yet. [he/she/they] was [age].
They — meaning anyone — will tell you that you should prepare for death. Death is inevitable. No one is too good to beat it. Well [name] deserved to, if anyone. [He/she/they] brightened the lives of so many with [his/her/their] belly laugh, sense of humor, and selfless means of carrying [himself/herself/theirself].
[He/she/they] was so rare. Heaven truly gained an angel to be reckoned with — in the best way.
As you can imagine, my family was not at all prepared for the financial burden that comes along with a proper funeral service and burial. That is why I am reaching out to you all in hopes that you’ll show your support. Not for me, if even not for my children, but for [name].
So you know exactly where your donation will be used, we are planning a modest but proper ceremony. Every little bit helps. You will see an itemized list of our intended spending below.
Thank you so much for even considering to donate and for taking the time to read about my sweet [name]. [he/she/they] loves you. I mean it. Even if [he/she/they] didn’t know you directly.
Here you will find a link to the fundraiser we have started for the funeral [link]. As you can see our goal is [goal] and we hope to raise this amount by [date].
Our dear [name] passed away on [date] due to [reason] at [age]. Like so many during this time, we are devastated. Maybe many months ago we thought it could never happen to us, to someone we loved. But here we are.
[Name] was a schoolteacher [his/her/their] entire life. [He/she/they] lived for helping others and for enriching the lives of everyone [he/she/they] came across. This mentality isn’t innate for all, but for [name], it was. Of course, [name’s] service in the armed forces further solidified [his/her] desire to help anyone and everyone and honor others above [himself/herself/theirself].
So why am I writing to you, dear strangers, about my loved one? As you can likely imagine, these times have not been friendly to my family in terms of finances. We would love nothing more than to give [name] a sensible funeral service, but we cannot do so alone.
Every donation will get us closer to putting [name] to rest peacefully where [he/she/they] belongs. Here is a link to the donation page we have started [link]. As you will see our goal is [goal] and we hope to raise this amount by [date].
I want to thank you deeply for taking the time to read about [name] and for your thoughts.
Subject line: Passing of [first and last name],[role in community or organization]
Dear friend [or name],
It is with deep regret that I am informing you that [first and last name] passed away recently due to [reason or omit].
As you may know, [name] served for [x years] in [organization]. [He/she/they] loved nothing more than this position and, I assure you, passed away with such gratitude in [his/her/their] heart for individuals such as yourself.
I apologize that I cannot speak more directly on [his/her/their] behalf on the nature of your relationship. I pray that you will remember [he/she/they] as fondly as [he/she/they] likely remembered you.
Unfortunately, [his/her/their] family is sparse as are funds for a proper, yet sensible funeral service. Below you will find a list of intended expenses. To handle this situation, myself and [another person’s name, if applicable] have taken it upon ourselves to start a fundraiser via this link [link].
Here, you will see our goal as well as well as when we hope to reach it by. We truly thank you for any support you are able to lend at this time.
[List of expenses]
Again, thank you for your consideration. And, on behalf of [name], we wish you peace, blessings, prosperity, and all the love in the world.
There is Value in Numbers
As stressed, upset, and drained as you may be trying to plan a funeral while not being financially prepared to do so, you shouldn’t lose hope. There is so much value in numbers — and no, we don’t mean how much you end up raising.
Coming together with friends, family, the community, and strangers to honor your loved one is incredibly special. It will provide physical evidence of the impact they had on this earth that will last long after they’re gone.
Check out the rest of Cake’s resources for end-of-life planning as well as these charities that help with funeral costs.
We also have a post-loss checklist that will help you ensure that your loved one's family, estate, and other affairs are taken care of.
- “How to Ask for Donations for Funeral Expenses: Three Free Templates.” GoFundMe. 26 Feb. 2020. www.gofundme.com/c/blog/ask-donations-funeral-expenses
- “How Your Fundraiser Description Length Influences Donations.” GoFundMe. 18 Dec. 2019. www.gofundme.com/c/blog/fundraiser-description-length