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How to Start a Memorial Fund

Paige Kutilek
|6 min read

Fundraising Strategy

In the days after a loved one has passed away, it’s hard to find the strength to plan a funeral or memorial. But a memorial is an important opportunity for the living to create meaning from loss, strengthen bonds, and celebrate the life of the departed. While it’s almost always meaningful to have a memorial, it can also be expensive. A memorial fund can help raise needed money, while allowing those who loved him or her to make a positive and enduring contribution.

Honor your loved one’s legacy

A memorial fund can be set up for many reasons—to carry on the spirit of the deceased, create scholarships, or help relatives cope with unexpected expenses. It keeps a legacy alive while working to improve the lives of others.

Seven meaningful memorial fund ideas

1. 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 $400,000 to help students pay for college and for other causes close to Gina’s heart.

2. 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 the Trinidad family was in a terrible car accident that killed 5 people and left just one survivor, their community came together to raise nearly $200,000 for the final expenses and any additional support needed for Mary Rose, the mother who survived the crash with very serious injuries.

3. Fund hope for a cure and soothe the suffering

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 this country, and to give support to people like her father, Maddie raised more than $8,000 to help someone in need get treatment.

4. Create a scholarship fund

Scholarship funds can honor the passions of the deceased, ensuring that students in need can carry on their educational legacies. In honor of Harvard student Courtney S. Blair, her family started a scholarship fund that will award three annual $1,000 post-secondary scholarships for high school graduates of the Gwinnett County public schools. For advice on starting a scholarship fund, see: How To Start a Scholarship Fund to Honor a Loved One.

5. Support a loved one’s favorite cause

Use a memorial fund to raise funds for the cause your loved one cared about most. If she or he was a champion of the environment, for example, think about establishing a memorial fund that provides resources to organizations that protect the planet, fight global warming, or preserve endangered species. If he or she was 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. There are as many possibilities as there are causes.

6. Create a lasting tribute piece

Did your loved one cherish a particular park or public space? If so, use a memorial fund to create a tribute piece there. You could raise funds for a bench, statue, tree, garden, a small free library, or other enhancement to the space that commemorates that person’s life. Commemorating a loved one with a permanent fixture in the community, like a park bench, public plaque, or tree, serves as a celebration of this person’s life, and is becoming a more frequent choice in lieu of a traditional funeral service.

7. Paying off outstanding debt

Coping with the death of someone you love is heartbreaking, and learning that they may have left behind substantial debt can add an incredible amount of stress. Mortgage payments, home equity loans, and even some student loan and credit card debt isn’t forgiven upon death. In this particular fundraiser, funds were being raised to help pay off outstanding student loan debt that wasn’t forgiven.

Lessen the burden: start a fundraiser for someone you know

If you’d like to step up and offer relief to a friend or family member who lost someone they cherished, you can create a memorial crowdfunding fundraiser for them. This person may be so focused on dealing with their own grief that they don’t have the time, energy, or know-how to create a memorial fundraiser for themselves. Having someone else take care of it for them can be a lifeline.

Here are some things to keep in mind when getting started:

  • Ask them what they need most, then provide donors with a list on the fundraiser page. If they simply need money to cover general funeral expenses, then be sure to let donors know that as well.
  • Include as much information as you can about their circumstances and how important it is to support them.
  • Include lots of photos of them enjoying their life.
  • Be sure to include your connection to the beneficiary of the fundraiser, and how you plan to get the funds to them—that way, your fundraiser is completely transparent.

Pay tribute to a loved one today

By creating one of the memorial funds listed above or coming up with your own unique way of commemorating your loved one, you can find comfort in the midst of tragedy. Memorial crowdfunding allows you to begin to come to terms with the loss of a loved one. If you haven’t already started a free memorial fund fundraiser, launch your fundraiser today.

Start a memorial fund

Paige Kutilek

About Paige Kutilek

I'm keen on creating meaningful and thoughtful content that will have an impact. I'm a dedicated individual with a creative touch who is always eager to learn more. Lover of cats, avocados, and tea.

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