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.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Send Emails to Raise Funds for a Funeral
- Write a Letter to Raise Funds for the Funeral
- Post on Social Media to Ask for Donations
- Reach Out to Government Organizations or Charities That Offer Funeral Assistance
- Ask In-Person or Make Personal Calls
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
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.
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.
Post on Social Media to Ask for Donations
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.
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 aide 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
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.
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.