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How crowdfunding is changing the way we pay for funerals

Donating to a funeral crowdfund online

The internet has opened up many new possibilities for people arranging a loved one’s funeral. Whether it’s reading funeral director reviews online, researching different types of coffin, setting up an online obituary, or seeking comfort and support, there are a wealth of websites out there to help you. Now, one of the latest innovations is crowdfunding for funeral costs.

Crowdfunding can help people to raise significant sums of money by asking for small donations from lots of people. It is an increasingly popular way for start-up businesses or charitable causes to fundraise, which they can now do via a number of websites. People turn to crowdfunding for a wide range of reasons, from raising support to publish novels they’ve written, to getting a new business enterprise off the ground.

Some of these schemes offer rewards to ‘armchair investors’ - the ordinary people who sign up and pledge anything from one pound to thousands. This could be a copy of a book or music album that backers have helped to fund, or sometimes it’s the prospect of a financial return if the fledgling venture takes off.

Sometimes, the rewards are entirely altruistic and for the giver, it’s an opportunity to reach out to a person or cause that has touched their heart. Such causes include helping to pay for medical expenses, funding potentially life-saving operations for those in need, or supporting the bereaved with funeral costs.

Rather than send flowers, crowdfunding gives mourners a chance to support the bereaved in a practical way by offering a donation to cover funeral expenses. For some families and individuals, it could help provide a loved one with a send-off that’s fitting, with kind-hearted sponsors chipping in to help with any costs beyond the bereaved’s budget.

Through crowdfunding websites, you can set up a page to ask for help towards funeral costs. People set a target amount and write a bit about their story, explaining to people who visit the page what they are raising money for. Members of the public, as well as mourners, can donate and each website explains exactly how this is done. Some sites also allow for anonymous donations, and donors can leave messages of condolence and support. Other sites also enable members of the public to make a pledge via text.

While some people may donate large sums, you can generally contribute anything from a few pounds and can view on the website how close the crowdfunding campaign is to reaching its goal. Some funeral crowdfunding requests raise thousands of pounds while others, where the bereaved is also raising money for charity or legal fees, can reach tens of thousands.

These crowdfunding websites are usually free to set up a page, but the administrator will often take a small percentage of whatever you raise to cover its own costs. This varies between websites, so make sure you check the terms and conditions before you decide to start crowdfunding.

In recent years there has been a huge increase in the number of crowdfunded funerals, as more people need help with funeral costs. Apart from helping a family in a practical way, donations can show support, no matter the amount. Just as donating to charity has already become a modern alternative to buying a floral tribute, so the crowdfunded funeral is becoming a gesture of solidarity.

It’s an idea that celebrities are getting on board with too. Singer Taylor Swift donated $5,000 towards young fan Katie Beth Carter’s funeral earlier this year, after being moved by the crowdfunder set up by the teenager’s friends in tribute to their ‘shining star’. Expressing their gratitude for the generosity of friends and the kindness of strangers, the crowdfund’s organisers said theirs had been a gesture of love for a family that had been profoundly hit by tragedy.

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