Frazer Blog

The state of crowdfunded funerals in 2017

by | Feb 23, 2017 | Funeral Payment Options, Funeral Profession

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Crowdfunding continues to help families in powerful and meaningful ways. We wanted to share what we’ve learned, and what we expect to see in 2017.

Campaigns Keep Growing

Believe it or not, crowdfunding isn’t new. President Grant’s memorial was even paid for by community crowdfunding. But the trend today is bigger than ever, and it’s continuing to grow.

Crowdfunded funerals began to take off around 2014. At the time, there were around 10,000 active campaigns on third-party crowdfunding sites. Fast-forward to today, and there are more than 600,000 active funeral and memorial campaigns. That means from 2014 to early 2017 we’ve seen an increase of 5,900%.

A recent study by NerdWallet backs that data up. According to their study, the funeral, memorial, and tribute category is not only one of the largest crowdfunding categories, it’s also the fastest growing category for crowdfunding donations.

The NerdWallet study found that there are several reasons families turn to crowdfunding — but a big one is that both life insurance and families’ savings are falling short.

Crowdfunding Uses

From what we’ve seen, crowdfunding has been a powerful tool for many families — especially those facing unexpected deaths. Here are some of the unique and helpful ways we’ve seen families utilize it:

  • A funeral home in South Carolina raised almost $1,500 for a beloved local doctor that passed away from leukemia.
  • Six different donations were made directly to a funeral home in Ohio in honor of a man who died in a tragic SCUBA diving accident.
  • Another funeral home in Ohio had a campaign for a young man who left behind small children. The crowdfunding was offered to help with the funeral and children.

(Read our top 10 campaigns we saw in 2016.)

Some of the most popular reasons we see people donating are:

  • The family wants to be able to afford a better memorial service.
  • The family is raising money for a favorite charity or cause in honor of the deceased.
  • The family has the loved one’s medical expenses that they need help covering.
  • The deceased left behind young children, and the family wants to start a college fund.

Crowdfunding on Third-Party Sites

The Wall Street Journal recently wrote an in-depth report citing that third-party crowdfunding sites are coming under fire for not protecting users.

A chief executive at GoFundMe told the WSJ that there is “virtually no way to proactively screen each and every [crowdfunding campaign] when they are created.”

The big problem with third-party sites is that there’s no way to guarantee where the money will go, and if the campaign is even real — meaning families and funeral homes are susceptible to being swindled. According to the Wall Street Journal, one family went to create a campaign on a third-party site, only to find a fake account for their loved one had already been made.

To combat this, your funeral home should manage the crowdfunding campaigns directly on your site with your own crowdfunding platform.

Americans Continue to Give

One positive trend we’ve seen the past few years — and expect for 2017 — is that Americans are feeling more generous than they ever have.

  • The past two years have been America’s most generous years ever. According to Giving USA, $370 billion made up charitable donations in 2015.
  • CNN estimated that since 2010, crowdfunded funerals alone have received more than $340 million in donations.
  • The PEW Research Center found that for crowdfunding, the most common contributions were made to “help an individual in need—often a friend or family member…”

Our own study last year found that out of a select group of campaigns, women were more likely to donate to crowdfunding than men. And the Women’s Philanthropy Institute found similar data. Women tend to donate 89% more to charitable giving than men do.

Businesses and Organizations to Play a Larger Role

One big trend we expect to see in 2017 will be the growing role local business and community organizations play in funeral crowdfunding.

Organized and planned community giving is a top trend that’s expected to shape charitable giving in the coming year. And as crowdfunding funerals continue to skyrocket, we expect local groups like churches, small businesses, outreach centers, and other clubs and societies to pool resources together to help families in need.


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