Charity at funerals
In the past, it was common for friends and family to send flowers as a funeral tribute. Of course, people still send floral tributes, but many families now suggest mourners make charitable donations instead. As funerals have become more personalised, accepting charity donations to a loved one’s favourite cause is a meaningful way to respect their memory.
Choosing a charity
Families that would like mourners to donate to a charity in the name of a loved one first need to choose the charity they would like to benefit. The charities selected usually have some special significance to the family, either through the deceased’s past charity work or perhaps in relation to an illness they have suffered.
Occasionally families will leave the choice of charity to individual mourners.
Once the charity has been selected, the funeral director can include instructions for donation in the funeral announcement. A common message simply says 'Donations to XYZ charity instead of flowers', but it may be possible to say more.
Funeral directors can collect donations on your behalf, forwarding contributions directly to the nominated charity in the name of the deceased. This can be done before the funeral, with donations received at the funeral home. A collection can also be taken at the funeral service where envelopes or a collection plate can be used.
Details of where to send donations can also be printed on the back of the order of service.
Increasingly, charity donations are made online, and some funeral directors offer their own online service. This reduces the administration required, but it also allows charities to capture Gift Aid instructions automatically. That means that charities get 25% extra on each donation, thanks to government tax relief on donations to charity.
Some charities also offer memorial giving pages. These typically include the name of the deceased with a short tribute and a picture if desired. Details of the charity benefiting and why it has been chosen are also common. Mourners visiting the page can make donations online and leave messages of condolence or support. Of course, donations can be made anonymously.
The MuchLoved Charitable Trust is a bereavement charity, founded in 1998, that has hosted memorial websites for over 300,000 people and raised over £80 million for good causes. Families can use the MuchLoved website to create tribute pages for free and link to over 150 leading UK charities.
Asking for donations at a funeral doesn't mean that there won't be any flowers at the service; friends and family usually arrange their own floral tributes for the coffin and the funeral venue. Asking for donations in lieu of flowers does mean that, through the generosity of loved ones, positive work in areas like medical research, community care or environmental activism can be funded in the memory of a loved one.