New York State Funeral Directors Association

My wife and I got bad news a couple months ago – her cousin we’d seen just a few months before, at a funeral, was in the intensive care unit in another state.

She made the trip to the hospital and he died less than two weeks later.

Compounding the grief was the fact that the last time we’d seen the cousin was at the funeral for my wife’s mom the year before.

But the days leading up the funeral saw a glint of positive, if you could call it that. The cousin had one young son unable to pay for a funeral, so he established a GoFundMe page hoping to gather enough money to pay for services.

People from the cousin’s workplace started donating, as did members of the family. Close and distant relatives and friends pitched in what they could - $200 from one family, $50 from an individual.

As my wife and I discussed the matter, there was a growing sense of pride about how family and friendship creates a togetherness capable of a successful effort to pay for a meaningful remembrance and final disposition for the cousin.

It didn’t really matter how much was given by whom. What did matter was the fact that people cared enough to try to help.

It was important to hold a funeral and there was no shame in the fact that there wasn’t a big nest egg sitting around waiting to pay for funeral services.

It’s not easy for funeral directors to convince people of the wisdom in planning one’s own final service and putting money aside for it. And it’s not easy for some people to spare savings for it.

Crowdfunding is among the huge benefits the Internet has brought to life, and there appears to be a growing number of ways to do it.

It isn’t free, however, like picking up the telephone and calling friends and family and co-workers and asking them if they can help to send a check or cash or money order.

Instead of looking at the “cut” crowdfunding sites take out of donations as a way of making money off of people’s suffering, I look at it as payment in exchange for the embarrassing phone calls one would have to make while acknowledging “gee, I never did start saving for that funeral, did I?”

There are several Internet-based sites that can be used to gather funding for a funeral, here’s a list in no particular order with some details:

  • GoFundMe – Perhaps the first of these sites, GoFundMe reports on its website that the service has helped people raise more than $2 billion. It’s currently being used to gather support for services for victims of domestic terror attacks in the U.S., such as for police officer Montrell Jackson in Louisiana. The cost? GoFundMe on its website says they get 5% of the money, their payment processor gets 2.9% in addition to $0.30 for each donation. To me, that’s less money than it costs to go to that machine in the grocery store to turn in my coins because I’m too lazy to pack them up in those coin rollers. After the fundraising effort, the account creator gives the site their banking information where the money is deposited.
  • GiveForward – This site appears similar to the prior one. GiveForward receives the same cut, according to their website – 5% for their work then 2.9% for the payment processor that gets another 30-cents per donation. Again that cost is less than other cuts I get taken out of my hide – like the 18-plus percent interest I pay every time I use my Sears card to pick up something I “have to have” at the mall.
  • DonationTo – The DonationTo site boasts allowing people get to keep 100 percent of their donations and eliminate credit card fees if they sign up to a monthly payment of $14. There are also free plans – they come with a deduction of 4% off donations in addition to unspecified credit card fees. From reading their website, it appears you have to establish a WePay or PayPal account to receive the donations.
  • I saw a discussion among funeral professionals on LinkedIn recently and learned about this new site – with a different twist. The Fundthefuneral website says it’s been developed by funeral directors. It says it’s the only site that “ensures that donations made to a fund go directly towards paying for the final expenses of the deceased.” Family members can only start raising money this way if they are working with a funeral home that’s set up an account with Fund The Funeral. Donations towards the funeral, from this site, go directly into the account of the funeral home, according to the website. Though the big, readable pages on the website says it’s free to use, the “terms of service” you can find on the bottom says it gets 5% per donation in addition to 2.9% and $0.30 per-donation going to the payment processer. This must be standard in the crowdfunding world.

I’m not sure if this article will help anybody – from my experience, people more often than not just go “try” whatever their friends or family suggest they go and try, when they need some help.

And I still wonder how much time people spend researching their options when it comes to paying for a funeral.

In the end, for those finance-savvy folks looking to save a buck on anything they spend money on, it’s clear that pre-planning funeral services is the cheapest way to go. Trust-type systems that are established in New York State are like savings accounts. They accrue interest.

As with any trust in New York State, PrePlan is permitted by law to expend up to three quarters of one percent of the balance in the fund to provide the necessary services to operate and staff the trust. This is one of the lowest fees in the nation. In addition, a minimal advisory fee is also paid for the expert investment advice given to PrePlan for the direct benefit of its customers. These terms are fully disclosed in the preneed customer agreement provided to all consumers.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Certain hyperlinks in this article contain information from third party sources. SympathyNotes has not obtained prior permission to link to such sources and does not control or guarantee the accuracy of information contained in any content linked to this article; does not endorse any content linked to this article or any third party crowdfunding site which produce and provide such content; and does not endorse the views they express or the products and/or services they may offer. For questions relating to prearranging a funeral, contact a NYSFDA member funeral home.


EdsPhotoEd Munger
Communications & Social Media Specialist
NYS Funeral Directors Association