How to Ask for Donations for Funeral Expenses

Updated

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Funerals are expensive. The cost of a funeral varies depending upon the burial plot cost and headstone cost, but even the simplest celebration of life can cost thousands.

Some families may look into burial alternatives to see if they can find a cheaper way to honor the dead. Others may research how to donate their loved one’s body to a medical school to help cut some of the expenses.

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While there are ways you can cut costs at a funeral, you still may not have enough money to have a simple service. You may find it necessary to ask for donations from others to help with the funeral expenses. Here are some ways to ask for donations that you may not have considered.

Tip: Finding the funds for funeral expenses is just one of the responsibilities you might have after the death of someone close to you. Our post-loss checklist can help you prioritize and work through those tasks and challenges.  

Send Emails to Raise Funds for a Funeral

Excerpt from an example email to raise funds for a funeral with an image of a laptop

You may consider writing an email to help raise funds for a funeral. You could send it to your immediate and extended family. You may even consider expanding the email list to include friends, neighbors, and coworkers.

While you might only think of the people in your contact list, you could also send an email to those in your deceased loved one’s address book.

When drafting your email, first, announce the death of your loved one. Hopefully, those who are on the email list will have already heard about the passing, but you should repeat the news in case they haven’t. 

Second, give the details for the funeral if it is already planned. Don’t forget to provide the time, day, date, and address.

Virtual funeral tip: If you're planning a virtual or hybrid funeral using a service like GatheringUs, make sure to share the necessary info in your email. You may need to send another email, later on, containing the link to the event. Let your loved ones know they should be on the lookout for that information. 

Next, state that you need help raising funds for the funeral. You don’t have to go into any background information or explain yourself. It’s nobody’s business why you are asking for help. You don’t even need to state the exact amount you are raising. 

Finally, consider using a crowdfunding website to collect the funds. You could also ask that donations be dropped off at the funeral home. Some may be hesitant to pass out cash to you, especially while you are mourning the loss of your loved one. 

Sample funeral fundraising email

It is with great sadness that I announce the passing of my mother, Patricia May Robertson Smith. She died last Thursday, May 13, as a result of a car accident. While we were shocked at her passing, we are glad to know that she did not suffer long from her injuries.

The services for mom will be on Wednesday, May 19, at 10 a.m. at the Williams Funeral Home, 15334 First Street in Newton. 

Many of you have reached out asking how you can help my family during this time. We appreciate your thoughtfulness, and we ask for prayers that we may find peace concerning this tragedy. We would also appreciate monetary donations to help pay for funeral expenses. Feel free to drop off your monetary gift at the funeral home or visit our GoFundMe page.

Thank you.

Share your final wishes, just in case.

Send your end-of-life preferences—including your funeral, legal, medical, and legacy choices—with your loved ones. Create a free Cake profile to get started.

Write a Letter to Raise Funds for the Funeral

Perhaps the person who passed did not use a computer for communication. If an older adult died, his or her contemporaries might not turn to their phones or iPads for information either. You may need to write a traditional letter to mail to others if this describes your situation.

Since snail mail takes much longer than email, you should start the letter-writing process as soon as possible. You could choose to print and photocopy a letter, or you could send out an announcement for the funeral and include a line or two at the bottom asking for donations. 

Consider sending the letter to extended family members. If the deceased had a contact book, you can look for potential recipients there as well. 

Sample letter to raise funeral funds

Dear Family and Friends,

I am deeply saddened to write these words, but we lost our beloved father yesterday. He quietly passed away from a heart attack while sleeping. We are overwhelmed with sadness, but we are glad he did not suffer.

The visitation will be next Friday, December 17, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Russell Funeral home in downtown Shawnee. The funeral will be the next day at 10 a.m. at Christ Lutheran Church in Shawnee. The burial will follow at Sunset Cemetery. Please join us for a light luncheon at the church following the burial.

In place of flowers, we ask that you consider donating funds to help cover my dad’s funeral expenses. You can drop off your donations at the funeral home or mail them to dad’s address. We also have a GoFundMe page, as well.

Thank you.

Post on Social Media to Ask for Donations

Excerpt from an example social media post to ask for funeral donations with an image of a hand holding a phone

Love it or hate it, social media makes it much easier to reach out to groups of people quickly. The benefit of using social media to ask for donations is that you can tag the deceased in your post, so you can reach a broader range of people that your loved one knew.

The other benefit of asking for donations through social media is that the recipients of the message are comfortable online. They may be more likely to donate through a crowdfunding website. This means you will have quicker access to the money to help you plan for the funeral. 

Sample social media post to raise funds

Thank you all for the messages of sympathy you have sent me over the last several days. I appreciate all your kind words about my sister, and I especially love hearing your memories of her. 

Many of you have asked how you can help our family during this difficult time. Instead of sending plants and flowers, we ask that you donate to Willow’s funeral fund. We appreciate your support. Thank you. 

Create an Online Memorial

Yes, you could send an email, letter, or post something on social media to notify others about the death of your loved one. However, there are websites created specifically for the dissemination of this information. 

Online memorial pages will allow you to set the right mood for this style of communication. Many of them offer the user end-of-life-related resources – some for the funeral planner and others for the funeral attendee. Most also allow the visitors to share memories of the deceased and messages of condolences to the family.

Additionally, you can request that visitors to your loved one’s memorial page contribute to the funeral fund. 

Such a request is not out of the ordinary. In fact, people are used to making contributions to charities in lieu of purchasing flower arrangements and other sympathy gifts. While most of these contributions go to a not-for-profit organization that was important to the deceased, most people would be happy to contribute to the funeral fund as a way to honor the person who died.

Some online memorial websites allow families to provide a link to the charities (or funeral homes) where online giving is accepted. Other memorial websites may help you with the collection by providing their own secure way of collecting the funds.

If online giving is not easy to arrange, your online memorial page can give the visitor instructions on how to make a contribution to the funeral fund. For example, you might arrange to have contributors call the funeral home to make a donation over the phone. Others may leave instructions on the memorial page on where to mail a check for the fund. Still, some families recommend that friends and extended family drop their contributions off in person at the funeral home or a local bank.

Reach Out to Government Organizations or Charities that Offer Funeral Assistance

Instead of reaching out to friends and family members to help cover the cost of a funeral, you could also check into government organizations or charities that may offer funeral assistance. Google “Medicaid funeral assistance + state name” to see what programs are available in your state. There may be local organizations that assist with funerals. Some folks might also qualify for veteran death benefits.

Your best source for assistance is your funeral home director. Most of the time, people working in this industry have lots of experience. It’s not the type of job that someone does for a few months before moving on to the next career. They are likely to know the aid you can receive at the state, county, and city levels. They may also know of civic organizations that would be glad to help.

Finally, they may be more likely to help because they are running a business. They want to be able to be paid for the expenses they incur while caring for your loved one’s remains. 

Ask In-Person or Make Personal Calls

Tip for calling to ask for funeral donations with an image of a person talking on the phone

You may consider calling a friend or family member or visiting in person to ask for assistance with the funeral expenses. Instead of gathering many donations of $20 to $50, you may find someone willing to write a check for the whole bill. 

Death brings out strong emotions. Even a person that you may not have considered particularly generous may surprise you at a time of grief. 

You may have drawn the short straw in your family and have been given the task of asking for financial help. Try to remain as calm as possible. Ask, “Do you think you would be able to help us pay for mom’s funeral?” Don’t feel the need to explain your financial situation. It may be best to keep the conversation short.

Try to be courteous even if the friend or family member is not able to help. After all, you may think that you understand the person’s financial situation, but your information may be wrong. A person has a right to say no. If the person agrees to help, don’t forget to thank them. 

Wording Samples for Asking for Donations for Funeral Expenses

It’s hard for many people to ask for money. While we understand your hesitation, please realize that many of your friends and extended family members want something to do to show that they care. Most would agree that they want to spend their hard-earned funds on something meaningful, and what is more significant than having a beautiful celebration of life service for a loved one?

Here are some examples of how to request contributions to a funeral fund.

Our family has been overwhelmed with an outpouring of love following the unexpected death of our beloved mother. Many of you have asked how you can help our family during this difficult time. One way you can help is to continue to pray for peace for our dad and the rest of the family. In addition, if you wish to make a monetary contribution, we ask that you contribute to the funeral fund so that we can lay our mother to rest in the manner she requested.

As many of you know, our father was fascinated with space flight – starting when he witnessed the lunar landing on TV at the age of eight. So, to honor our dad, we would like to have a portion of his ashes shot up into space. If you would like to help contribute to this unique way to celebrate Dad, we ask that you visit our Go Fund Me page. 

As many of you know, our mother’s extended illness was extremely difficult on our family. We can’t thank you all enough for the outpouring of meals, gift cards, and home services that you have all provided. However, as we celebrate the life of this beautiful, brave woman, we have one last request. If you are able, we ask that you contribute to the funeral fund for our mother. This will enable us to give her a formal funeral, which she always admired.

Collectings Funds for a Funeral

Before you ask others for funds to help pay for funeral expenses, make sure you go through all your loved one’s paperwork. He or she may have had life insurance policies or even pre-paid for a funeral without your knowledge. 

If people do help with the funeral expenses, make sure to send handwritten thank-you notes. Handwritten notes may seem old-fashioned, but they are a considerate way to thank a person who went above and beyond to help you during your time of grief. 

If you need extra guidance, check out our guide on how to pay for a funeral if you're low on money.

Post-planning tip: If you are the executor for a deceased loved one, you have more than just the funeral to think about. Handling their unfinished business can be overwhelming without a way to organize your process. We have a post-loss checklist that will help you ensure that your loved one's family, estate, and other affairs are taken care of.

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