The cost of the funeral can be overwhelming when someone dies, particularly if the death was unexpected. With the average price of a funeral costing around $7,500 (according to finder.com.au) families in hardship are turning to crowdfunding websites like GoFundMe to pay for funeral expenses.
A study by Australian Seniors found a third (32%) of seniors suffered financial hardship after paying for a funeral. And it took two-thirds of them (68%) up to six months to financially recover from the debt.
Traditional funeral directors usually need payment before the funeral service, placing further pressure on families to come up with the funds quickly. At Bare, we only invoice families after the cremation. In the days after a loved one has died, families should be grieving instead of worrying about paying bills.
This article on funeral fundraising offers some tips on how to ask for donations. It also guides you through the process of setting up a GoFundMe campaign for funeral expenses and includes a template you can use.
Why set up a GoFundMe for funeral expenses?
A GoFundMe campaign is a simple and secure way for families to get immediate financial help with funeral costs. A funeral fundraiser can also be a way for families and friends to connect and support one another through the loss of a loved one, while paying tribute.
It’s free to set up an account, which can be shared on social media or emailed to family and friends.
There are always generous people out there, willing to give a helping hand if asked. For example, fundraising was used to cover funeral expenses for a man we know of, who was quite well-known among metal detecting hobbyists. He had such a reputation for beach and bush detecting that people all over the world – many who had never met him – were happy to donate.
Setting up a GoFundMe account for funeral expenses is a simple and effective way to fundraise and ease the financial hardship when a loved one dies.
How a GoFundMe campaign works: 3 steps
Setting up a GoFundMe campaign for funeral expenses is easy.
Step 1: Start your fundraiser. All you need to do is set your fundraiser goal, tell a story and add a photo or video.
Step 2: Share the link. Once the campaign is live, start sharing the link with family members and friends. This can be done on social media, by email, and even by SMS.
Step 3: Manage donations. Once donations start rolling in, you can withdraw funds at any stage, directly to your bank account. Just allow 2-5 days for funds to arrive. Don’t forget to thank donors and provide updates on what the funds are being used for.
How to set up a GoFundMe campaign to cover funeral expenses
It can feel uncomfortable to ask for donations towards funeral expenses, but you might be surprised by how willing people are to help once they realise you are struggling.
A simple way to request funeral donations is when you are informing people of the passing – either in the obituary, funeral notice, or during the funeral service itself.
GoFundMe lists the following three tips to help set up an account for donations towards funeral expenses:
1. Tell your loved one’s story honestly. Sharing your loved one’s story honestly and authentically will help build a personal connection and inspire more people to donate. Keep the tone conversational, while explaining why you are fundraising. Mention what difference each donation will make to you and your family. Be sure to include at least one high-quality photo.
2. Explain the urgency of your funeral fundraiser. Funeral costs and other expenses, like medical bills, happen all at once. As mentioned earlier, funerals generally need to be paid up-front, so you will need to create a sense of urgency. It will be helpful to explain what could happen if funds are not raised before a particular date.
3. List specific expenses. People who have never arranged a funeral are often shocked to learn how much things cost – like a coffin, flowers and catering. Your funeral director should provide an itemised quote. Listing these individual expenses will help people understand exactly how their donation will help and why you chose a specific fundraising goal.
GoFundMe funeral fundraiser template
Heading: Help with [First name]’s funeral expenses
Our beloved [First name] recently passed on [date]. [First name] was a wonderful [sister/brother, mother/father, friend, etc.] who touched the lives of those around [him/her]. [He/she] leaves behind [family members].
[Brief detail about your loved one’s passing, whether expected or sudden.]
[First name]’s obituary can be found here (link). The funeral service will be held at [location], on [date and time].
We are absolutely devastated by [First name]’s passing and were not prepared for the high cost of a funeral service. We want to give [First name] the memorial [he/she] deserves, to honour [his/her] memory and say our last goodbyes.
We are asking for donations to help cover the costs of [First name’s] funeral service. I’ve started a fundraiser to collect donations. Here is the link [Insert fundraiser URL].
We need to raise [fundraiser goal] by [date] to be able to afford the funeral service.
Here is a breakdown of all the costs involved in the funeral service for [First name]:
[itemised list of expenses]
Please consider donating if you can, as any amount will truly help our family during this difficult time.
[Your Name or family members names]
Is GoFundMe for funeral expenses tax deductible?
GoFundMe donations for funeral expenses made to a personal fundraiser are considered to be personal gifts and are not tax-deductible.
However, if a campaign was set up to support an approved GoFundMe charity fundraiser in honour of the deceased, that donation may be tax-deductible.
Centrelink to help with funeral costs
Centrelink bereavement payments, pensions and other government assistance may also be available to those who need financial support to pay for a loved one’s funeral. Find out if you are eligible by calling Centrelink on 132 300.
If you are unable to come up with the financial means to pay for a funeral, you may be eligible for state-based assistance or a state-funded funeral. You will need to meet strict criteria in proving you are unable to pay for the funeral.
Our article about paupers funerals has more information about state-funded funerals.
Tips on keeping funeral costs down
Australia’s century-old funeral industry has made its money by guilting grieving families into paying for things they don’t necessarily need. Families trying to keep funeral costs down are often shamed, despite facing financial hardship for agreeing to extras they don’t need or cannot afford.
Low-cost funeral provider Bare is changing the Australian funeral industry. At Bare, we believe that the price of a person’s funeral isn’t a reflection of how much they were loved. We have removed the things that families often don’t need – like expensive coffins, overpriced catering, hearses and wreaths, so that we can provide a dignified farewell at the most affordable price.
A Bare cremation is unattended, to keep prices low and allow families the flexibility to plan a fully customised memorial once the ashes have been returned.
Our prices vary depending on the location, but the average price of a Bare funeral is around $2,000. We can also help you plan a personalised memorial for an additional fee.
Our article How to plan a DIY funeral or memorial offers more tips on how you can save money by making many of the arrangements with out a funeral director.
Final thoughts on GoFundMe to pay for funeral expenses
In the immediate dates after a loved one has died, the last thing you want to think about is how to pay for a funeral. The price of a traditional funeral can quickly reach upwards of $10,000, leaving families struggling to pay the bill.
While a number of organisations can offer funding towards funeral expenses, it might not cover the entire cost.
Setting up a GoFundMe campaign is a simple and effective way to ask for donations. However, if you are struggling to come up with the financial means to cover funeral expenses, talk to your funeral director about your budget. They should be able to determine if any elements can be altered to bring down the costs. If they are not willing to help, shop around for a cheaper funeral quote, or give Bare a call and we can take over the arrangement from there.
You should also determine if you are eligible for any Centrelink bereavement benefits.
To learn more about Bare’s affordable funerals and get an itemised quote for your location, visit the Bare website or call our friendly funeral arrangers on 1800 071 176.