It is common practice these days for funeral notices to state ‘family flowers only’ and express a preference for charitable donations to be made ‘in lieu of flowers’. This can bring comfort to a family when they are raising funds for a cause close to their loved one’s heart or wish to build awareness for a relevant charity.
Traditionally funeral directors have taken on the responsibility for managing such charitable donations, collecting cash on the day of the funeral or receiving cheques (and sometimes cash) in the post and banking the donations on a family’s behalf.
This may sound a simple enough process, but collecting donations, ensuring security of funds, witnessing of counting cash, banking and accounting for charity collections creates a significant and time consuming administrative task. It also presents a potential risk in terms of loss, fraud or disputes about amounts donated or raised.
At a time when funeral costs have risen significantly, it is administrative tasks like these that help to inflate funeral director’s fees. The necessity for this task is highly questionable, given the introduction of more efficient and transparent mechanisms for collecting donations.
In today’s increasingly cashless and cheque-less society, the rise of online platforms like JustGiving are fast becoming the norm for charitable donations at funerals.
As part of our service for full service funerals, we create an online tribute page for each family to make it easy to share the funeral details. When a family wishes to collect donations for a charity (or charities) we advise families step by step on how to set up an in memory fundraising page which enables friends and family to easily donate online. We then add a ‘donate’ button to link to the family’s chosen charity or fundraising page. This means all the details associated with the funeral – including fundraising – are in one place. We also include the website link on the printed Order of Service so that donations can be made after the funeral.
It makes it far easier to add Gift Aid to the amount raised for charities, increasing donations by 25%.
We appreciate that some family members or friends may not be familiar with how to donate online and still wish to write a cheque or put cash into a charity envelope. A solution that we can provide for this is a portable, sealable donation box and blank charity envelopes that are displayed at the Wake. The family can then take this away, thank those who have donated and organise transferring the donations to the charity.
Over 80% of funerals are cremation. Whilst a collection table may be manageable in a church, the facilities at crematoriums are basic and are not set up to do this. Time constraints between services mean people are expected to leave the chapel quickly. This means any cash or cheque donations can only take place at the reception venue which we as the funeral director do not generally attend, so our policy is for the family to look after the donations.
The transparency, ease and awareness of online donations has massively reduced the demand we see from families for us as funeral directors to oversee charitable donations at funerals. This benefits families directly, as removing the administrative burden and responsibility from the funeral director reduces their overheads, resulting in lower overall fees paid by the family.
As a progressive funeral director who aims to eliminate unnecessary expenditure where possible, we strongly support this evolution in how charitable donations at funerals are managed.