The hardest part of creating a memorial fundraiser is telling a compelling story that inspires people to donate.
The fundraiser story helps people understand why funds are needed—whether you’re donating to a charity, paying off outstanding medical bills, replacing lost income, or funding the funeral.
We created this guide to help you write a meaningful and shareable memorial fundraiser story.
While this step can be time-consuming and possibly emotional, it’s also a great way to share the legacy of your departed loved one and ensure their memory lives on.
1. Write Their Obituary
As part of the memorial page, you’ll be prompted to write an obituary for the person who passed away. This is a perfect place to start if you’re also adding a fundraiser to the page.
But writing an obituary is easier said than done. Luckily, we have an in-depth guide to writing a great obituary. We encourage you to use that resource when you’re creating your memorial page and fundraiser.
Here are some additional things to keep in mind when writing the obituary if you’re adding a fundraiser to the memorial page:
- Include the cause of death if it’s relevant to the fundraiser. For example, if the deceased died of cancer, that’s important information if you’re raising funds for medical bills. If the death was sudden or unexpected, this is important because you’re now facing unforeseen end-of-life costs.
- Mention the fundraiser at the bottom of the obituary so that people know that they should click over to the fundraiser tab. People who visit a memorial page often do not realize that there is a fundraiser attached.
- Add an “in lieu of flowers” line as part of mentioning the fundraiser. For example, you might write at the bottom of the obituary, “In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations to our memorial fundraiser. These funds will go towards paying off the outstanding medical bills left over from Denise’s lifelong battle with cystic fibrosis.” Including this in the obituary ensures that people choose to donate rather than send flowers, if that’s what you prefer.
2. Describe the Purpose of the Fundraiser
The most important aspect of the memorial fundraiser story is telling people why you’re asking for donations. People want to know that their donations are going to a good cause and making a difference.
Make sure to mention exactly how useful their donations would be in supporting your cause.
Here are some examples of how you can describe the purpose of the fundraiser.
We are raising funds to donate in Denise’s honor to the Cystic Fibrosis Research Institute. Denise was a bright and shining spirit whose life was cut short by this disease.
One of Denise’s passions in life was helping others understand this disease and the importance of cystic fibrosis research.
Any donation, large or small, is so meaningful to us because it will be in Denise’s name and will carry on her legacy.
We are asking for donations to help us hold a funeral service that is as unique and vibrant as Denise’s spirit. It would have meant the world to Denise to have all of her best friends and family members gather together in her honor.
Unfortunately, because of other expenses, including medical bills, we’re not able to bring everyone together the way we’d like. We would also love to purchase a unique headstone so that her final resting spot is as beautiful as she was, inside and out.
We’re requesting donations in lieu of flowers or gifts to help us cover the medical costs that our family is still facing in this time of tragedy.
As many of you know, Denise battled CF all of her life. This has been a tremendous financial hardship for our family, but one that was worth more than anything in the world. We were unable to pay much of the cost of Denise’s treatments, so we’ve taken on an insurmountable amount of debt.
In this time of heartbreak and mourning, any help with this additional burden means the world to our family and allows us to focus on celebrating Denise’s life. We are forever grateful for anything you choose to contribute.
3. Be Open and Honest About Who They Were
The most compelling memorial fundraising stories are emotional and vulnerable when describing the departed person. Take some time to connect with what your loved one meant to you and your family, and jot those ideas down.
Don’t worry about wording everything perfectly at first. Just get your ideas down on the page, and then go back and edit for clarity and readability.
Here’s an example of what that might look like:
- Positivity, no matter what
- Always learning and dedicated to putting her knowledge to good use
- The person you could turn to for strength
- Never judgemental
- Always ready with a joke to cheer you up
4. Relate to the Universal Experience of Grief
Nearly everyone has experienced grief in their life, whether it was losing a pet or a parent. People reading your fundraiser story will be compelled by their ability to relate to your story.
As mentioned above, you can relate to others by being open and clear about how the loss has affected your life. You can mention things like how every task is overwhelming, including paying for funeral expenses and other costs.
Here’s an example.
Losing our dearest daughter, sister, and friend has left a void in our lives that cannot and will not be filled. Each day seems harder than the last, and tasks like paying for funeral services seem insurmountable.
We’re devastated to be unable to provide the kind of memorial service she truly deserves, and being able to do that would provide at least a bit of comfort.
5. Get Help from Family and Friends
Chances are, you’re not alone in mourning your departed loved one. Think about all of the other people whose lives were touched by the deceased, and reach out to them.
You’ll probably be reaching out to these people anyways to inform them about the passing or to let them know about funeral arrangements. Use that opportunity to consider what your loved one meant to that person.
If someone texts you saying that your loved one helped them through a tough time, that’s a meaningful characteristic you can include in the fundraising message.
So many people were touched forever by Denise’s truly thoughtful advice and inspired by her strength.
6. Get Specific About Where the Funds Will Go
Describing the purpose of the fundraiser is essential, as detailed above. And you can help visitors to your memorial fundraiser better understand the purpose of the fundraiser by being specific and detailed about where each dollar will go.
For example, if your goal fundraising amount is $12,000 to cover end-of-life costs, you can break it down like this:
- Funeral home services fee - $2,195
- Funeral preparation services - $1,355
- Viewing - $425
- Funeral venue - $500
- Hearse service - $490
- Memorial print materials - $175
- Casket - $2,500
- Burial costs - $3,000
Of course, if you’re raising funds for a general purpose like replacing an income or donating to a charity, you can’t very well break the cost down into detail.
Just make sure that your fundraising story conveys the fact that every dollar will go towards that specific purpose.
Additionally, you can include a note about where funds in excess of the goal amount will go. Will they go to the same charity? If you’re raising funds to cover the funeral, will excess funds go to a charity, and if so, which one?
This can also help encourage people to continue donating even if you’ve already reached your fundraising goal.
7. Ask Visitors to Share the Fundraiser
Finally, a key part of a compelling story is the call to action. You call to action is, primarily, to donate to the fundraiser.
At the bottom of the fundraiser story, be sure to let readers know how much it means to you that they’ve considered donating and that any amount they’re willing to give is appreciated. After that, you may wish to ask visitors to the memorial fundraising page to share your fundraiser with their friends and family.
Asking visitors to the page to share it with their networks is an especially good idea if you have a large goal amount and need to reach a lot of people to reach that goal. You never know who might be out there that can relate to your story and might wish to donate to a good cause.
Speaking from the Heart in Your Memorial Fundraiser
Ultimately, what makes for a compelling memorial fundraising story is emotion, honesty, and vulnerability.
You have a good reason for raising memorial funds, whether it’s to donate or pay for essential expenses.
Keep that core reason and your loved one’s memory in mind when you’re writing your fundraiser story, and your message will come across clearly and genuinely.