Funeral costs are rising faster than average incomes. That’s not good news for anyone but there are ways around it. After all, we all know that we have to pass away one day. The only question is when. Many people save for their funerals, ensuring that when the time comes there’s enough money in the pot for their relatives and friends to cover all the necessary costs.
Another option, of course, is a funeral plan, something specifically designed as an inflation-buster by experts in the funeral business. By paying a fixed sum now, you can guarantee the funeral you want no matter how far ahead it has to take place. But both these options – private savings and professional funeral plans – assume that someone will pass away at more or less the expected time, in their eighties or nineties.
Death, like life, doesn’t always operate according to a time-table. When one partner of a couple dies, the other can follow them very quickly, having lost the will to live despite apparent good health and a solid circle of friendship and support. Accidents and illnesses can strike out of the blue, snatching away the young and middle-aged many years before their time. Grieving families can suddenly face big bills that are difficult to impossible to pay. They want to give their loved one or loved ones the best possible farewell. Who wants to be cheap or penny-pinching at a time like that?
Is a truly CO-OP Funeral the Answer?
But if there are no savings and no funeral plan, what options do they have? Well, there’s a new option today: Crowd-sourcing. Or crowd-funding. It began as a way of raising money for projects like films and documentaries. That’s still one of the most common reasons for a crowd-sourcing request. People place a message on the internet describing their project and ask strangers to donate money towards it. And crowd-sourcing has proved very successful. Inevitably, it’s expanded to cover something else that can be a big expense: funerals.
Site’s like YouCaring.com are becoming increasing popular
The same rules apply. People tell their story and ask for donations. If a death hits the headlines in some way – a young person dies in a tragic accident or as the victim of a nasty crime – those donations can pour in from all over the world. And there are now crowd-sourcing websites just for funerals. Their existence is a real tribute to the kindness of strangers. But is that a good thing? In some cases, the answer is clearly yes. When genuine tragedy strikes and a family can’t give their loved one the funeral they deserve, crowd-sourcing is a valuable new way for the community to provide help.
But should people turn to funeral crowd-sourcing as a first or easy option? That’s much more problematic. Self-reliance is something that we should surely all prefer. It’s also something that society depends on. If everyone needed help, there would be no-one there to provide it. If nobody could pay their bills, the economy would collapse. Crowd-sourcing a film is one thing. By creating the film, you give some return to the strangers who helped you. If the film is profitable, you might even be able to pay back their donation and something on top.
That’s not the case with a crowd-sourced funeral. Films are meant to be public, funerals are meant to be private. And funerals are also inevitable events. Sooner or later we all pass away. And it’s usually later: today most people don’t die unexpectedly, because they reach old age and have enjoyed a long life. Funerals are something that we can usually prepare for, either by building up savings or buying a funeral plan.
Crowd-sourcing a funeral shouldn’t seem an easy option. Like food-banks and other forms of emergency charity, it should be there for people who genuinely need it. Otherwise we risk growing cynicism among those who might otherwise have been prepared to donate. If people seek to crowd-source funerals, donations will drop and those in genuine need will be harmed.
If you would like further information regarding the more traditional assistance available for funding of a loved one’s funeral, visit the UK Governments portal to see if you qualify for Funeral Payments, or, alternatively, you could take a look at the Governments Money Advice Service assistance with Funeral Costs Information page.