How to Start a Memorial Fund to Honor a Loved One

Two people hugging outside
| 7 min read Fundraising Strategy

If you’re planning a memorial fundraiser for a loved one or friend who has recently passed away, please first know that the GoFundMe team is sending our love to you. We know that in the days after a loved one has passed away, the task of planning a funeral or handling financial matters can seem impossible. That said, we also know how difficult it can be to know where to start. If you’re wondering how to start a memorial fund to honor your loved one or help a friend, this article will help guide you through the process.

What is a memorial fund and why are memorial funds started? 

A memorial fund is a fundraiser that raises money to honor a loved one who has passed away and to help with burial expenses and ease financial stress during an already difficult time. Donations to the memorial fund can also be used to support a cause that was close to the loved one’s heart. A memorial is an important opportunity for family and friends to create meaning from loss, strengthen bonds, and celebrate the life of the departed. 

While there are some organizations that help with funeral expenses, you can often save time by setting up a memorial fund through a crowdfunding platform. There’s no wait time or approval process—you can begin raising money immediately.

Some reasons to consider starting a memorial fund online

  • A memorial fundraiser bridges the gap between those who are grieving and those who want to support them, but aren’t sure how.
  • Online sharing tools make asking for help easy, without the awkwardness or embarrassment that can come with asking for money.
  • A memorial fundraiser provides a central place for people to offer condolences and come together to reflect on someone’s life through photos and written memories.

Meaningful ideas for starting a memorial fund 

From public tributes to scholarship funds, these are a few of the most popular ways people use crowdfunding to remember and honor their loved ones.

Honor a life and help others

One way to memorialize the life of someone you’ve lost is by helping others. The Gina Montalto Memorial Foundation, for example, was created by Gina’s parents after her tragic death in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Since then, they’ve raised more than $540,000 to help students pay for college and for other causes close to Gina’s heart.

Help a grieving family in their time of mourning

If you know a family that has recently suffered a tragic loss, help them offset the cost of a memorial or funeral. When Cameron passed away from a rare vascular cancer, his friends set up a memorial for Cameron Voly on behalf of Cameron’s wife, Sally. They have raised over $95,000 to go towards funeral costs, medical expenses, and a college fund for Cameron and Sally’s daughter, Logan.

Fund hope for a cure

Many memorial fundraisers work to raise money to fund research and help others struggling with the same condition. Maddie set up the Carroll Freeman Memorial Foundation after her father died by suicide after struggling with depression and alcoholism. To bring awareness to gaps in mental health care in the United States, and to give support to people struggling with their own mental health, Maddie raised more than $8,700 through GoFundMe.

Create a scholarship fund

Scholarship funds help keep a loved one’s legacy alive while working to improve the lives of students. In honor of Harvard student Courtney S. Blair, her family started a scholarship fund to award three annual $1,000 post-secondary scholarships for high school graduates of the Gwinnett County public schools.

Support a loved one’s favorite cause

Many people create a memorial fund to support a cause their loved one cared about most. If they were a champion of the environment, for example, think about establishing a memorial fund that raises money for environmental charities that protect the planet. If they were a science teacher, you could start a memorial fund that supports scientific education for young children or offers science internships for first-generation college students.

Create a lasting tribute piece

Did your loved one cherish a particular park or public space? If so, you could raise funds for a park memorial bench, a memorial brick, a memorial tree, or other permanent fixture that commemorates your loved one’s life. These types of public tributes celebrate a person’s life and are becoming a more frequent choice in lieu of a traditional funeral service. Check out CaringBridge’s celebration of life ideas for even more ways to honor your loved one.

Pay off outstanding debt

Worrying about how to pay medical bills and other lingering debt while trying to cope with the death of someone you love can be immensely stressful. A friend of Giang used crowdfunding to help Giang and her family cover the costs of funeral expenses as well as her expensive cancer treatments.

How to set up a memorial fund

If you aren’t sure how to set up a memorial fund online, these steps will ensure you’re off to a good start.

1. Pick a platform

Make a list of what features are most important to you, and compare the top crowdfunding sites. Be sure to look for a crowdfunding platform that allows you to keep as much of the money you raise as possible. Most platforms will charge transaction fees, including credit and debit charges. 

Once you’ve picked a fundraising platform, research the cost of funeral services so you have a general idea of what your fundraising goal should be, or talk to the family directly.

2. Create a compelling fundraiser story

Your fundraiser story is a place where you can share sweet stories about the deceased and share special memories with friends and family. Be sure to create a unique fundraiser title and add images and videos to help tell your story. The following are other important details to add to your fundraiser story:

  • Ask the family what they need most, then provide donors with a list on the fundraiser page.
  • Use your online memorial fund as a space to update donors with information on funeral plans, dates, and specific ways they can help offline.
  • Be sure to include your connection to the beneficiary of the fundraiser, and how you plan on getting the funds to them. It’s important to be completely transparent on your fundraising page.

3. Share your fundraiser

The key to a successful fundraiser is to share it with friends and family as much as you can. Use social media, text messages, and fundraising emails to get your message out. You can even try online fundraising without social media. Read over our funeral and memorial fundraising tips for more advice and inspiration.

Honor your loved one’s legacy today

Settling financial matters, fielding condolence messages, and planning a funeral are a lot to handle while also coping with death. A memorial fund allows you to help someone who is grieving in a simple and loving way. Whether you need to offset funeral costs in your own life or you want to support a grieving friend, GoFundMe memorial fundraising can eliminate financial stress and provide comfort in the midst of tragedy. If you would like more assistance in starting your memorial fundraiser, please reach out to our Support team and they will assist you. We’re here to help you every step of the way.

Written by Brittany Chambers

I believe we all have the power to make a difference. Through informative and heartfelt content, I hope to create change and inspire others to give back to those who need it most.