Crowdfunding Funerals: A New Way to Say Goodbye, Together

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Family at a Funeral
Rich Legg, Getty Images
As anyone who has ever had to bury a loved one will attest, funerals carry a steep price tag. According to the National Funeral Directors' Association, the average send-off costs a bracing $6,600, but, as Mike Testa of Funeral Tips points out, once you add in cemetery services and other fees, the cost of seeing off a loved one can easily soar to $9,000 or more. To make things worse, cash-strapped loved ones, already struggling with sadness and loss, are rarely in a good position to bargain for better rates.

In the past, we've suggested a variety of ways to cut your funeral costs, including shopping for a casket at Walmart, getting buried at sea, or buying an alternative coffin. But even the bargain funeral option, cremation, isn't cheap -- in 2012, the average cost for a cremation was $3,725.

In other words, even with careful planning and budgeting -- again, a path that few grieving family members will take -- a funeral will still set you back a few thousand dollars.

But regardless of the funeral's cost, there's a new method some people are using to pay for it. Recently, a growing number of websites are making it possible to crowdfund someone's final goodbye. Some, like Funeral Fund and Graceful Goodbye are solely focused on raising money for funerals and memorials. Others, like Donation To or Give Forward allow fundraising for a variety of purposes, including funerals.

In addition to the monetary aspect, funeral crowdfunding also offers mourners an opportunity to memorialize a life. Glancing through funeral stories, I found, a man who took care of his family and loved cars, a gentle woman who clung to her love of crosswords even during her fight with Alzheimer's, and a young man who "always lit up the room with his smile."

Some of these crowdfunding campaigns are intended to cover funeral expenses; others will fund scholarships and other memorials. All of them, however, seem to offer an extra way to honor a loved one while saying goodbye. And that's a fine memorial in and of itself.

Bruce Watson is DailyFinance's Savings editor. You can reach him by e-mail at bruce.watson@teamaol.com, or follow him on Twitter at @bruce1971.

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