Charities and Organizations that Help with Funeral Costs
Many people feel overwhelmed when they lose a loved one and discover that the funeral will cost thousands of dollars. People commonly start by looking for charities that will help with funeral costs, the unfortunate reality is that there aren’t many. Below is a list of organizations (and other strategies) that may be able to help, but it’s also important to remember that you don’t need to have an expensive funeral in order to say goodbye to your loved one in a meaningful way. (Check out our article with seven ways to save money on a funeral.)
Families in the United States can potentially qualify for multiple levels of financial assistance, given their level of need and their location.
Social Security Benefit
Social security will pay out a one time benefit of $255 to a surviving spouse if you were living together. If the spouse was living apart from the deceased, then proof is required that the spouse was receiving benefits from Social Security alongside the deceased.
If you are the surviving child of the deceased, and there was no spouse to pay out to, you may be eligible to receive the one time benefit of $255 from Social Security. You’ll need to get in touch by phone at 1-800-772-1213. Learn more about Social Security survivor benefit.
The benefits for a veteran depends on a few factors: whether or not they were hospitalized by the VA, when they died, and whether or not it was an in-service death.
For a service-related death after September 21, 2001, the VA will pay up to $2000 for funeral expenses.
If it’s a non-service-related death that occurred after October 1, 2019, the VA will pay up to $796 towards funeral expenses if the Veteran was hospitalized by the VA at the time of death. If the Veteran was not hospitalized at the time of death and they died after October 1, 2019, the VA will pay up to $300 towards funeral expenses.
For more information on compensation for funeral expenses from the VA, head here.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
Depending on the death, FEMA can provide financial assistance to cover funeral expenses for qualified families. FEMA financial assistance can cover items such as caskets, urns, transportation costs, service costs, and more, depending on the level of assistance you qualify for. FEMA is a great place to start for families looking for individual assistance, especially if you've lost someone to a natural disaster in the US. You can apply for financial assistance through FEMA online.
It's also worth noting that part of the new December COVID-relief bill plans on offering assistance to qualified families for deaths related to COVID-19. These funds would be made available through FEMA, so you'll need to stay up to date with any updates to the application process. You can stay updated by following this COVID-19 Funeral Reimbursement article.
Financial Assistance & Social Services (FASS)
The Financial Assistance and Social Services program is for those who are American Indians or Alaska Natives and involves multiple types of assistance. One type of assistance offered by this program is financial assistance and emergency assistance for families who have recently lost a loved one. The burial assistance program is for indigent applicants who don't have enough funds in their estate to cover the costs of burial. To apply for assistance, you'll need to check that you have the required documentation and fill out their application.
Local county, city, and state programs
Each county, city, and state in the United States offers its own level of funeral or burial assistance to qualified families. Some families may qualify only for certain levels of assistance (for example, only qualifying at the state level) while others may qualify for each level of assistance offered. These programs are often overlooked or unheard of by families seeking funeral financial assistance, but can help you cover some or all of the unexpected funeral costs you're responsible for. For an idea on which states offer what types of assistance, check out this guide.
Non-profit organizations that help families cover funeral expenses are primarily directed towards families who have recently lost a child or infant.
Children's Burial Assistance
This non-profit organization helps families who have recently lost a child by donating burial vaults, plots, caskets, urns, and additional financial support. Based out of Georgia, Children's Burial Assistance has helped families nationally by donating over $900,000 to help cover the cost of funeral expenses for parents who have recently lost a child. To apply for assistance from Children's Burial Assistance, fill out their online application form.
Final Farewell is a non-profit organization that helps with burial expenses for children. If you’ve had a child pass away recently and are struggling to pay for burial or funeral expenses, Final Farewell accepts applications on their website.
The TEARS Foundation
A non-profit organization centered around providing financial assistance to families who have recently lost a child, The TEARS Foundation offers different types of assistance based on the age of the child who has passed away. This non-profit also offers emotional support to families who have recently lost a child. The type of assistance offered will also vary depending on the state you live in, for example, only parents living in the following states would be able to apply to Jesse's Grant (a fund for parents who lost a child aged 20 weeks to 1 year): Alaska, Arizona, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Dakota (Western Region), Washington or Wyoming. For a full breakdown of eligibility and program type, visit their website.
To apply for assistance, fill out their online application form.
Other types of assistance
Local Churches & Religious Groups
It’s a good idea to contact your local church or religious organization regarding assistance with funeral expenses. Many churches have access to a large audience and can leverage the community to assist in your time of need. It’s especially helpful if you were a part of the congregation or the deceased was an active member of the church. Reach out to local churches to see if they have any funeral expense funds set up for churchgoers. If you’ve set up a memorial fundraiser on Ever Loved, we’ve seen a lot of success from those who have shared the link to the fundraiser with their local churches. Share the URL with your church and ask that they include it in their email blasts and/or mention it at the next service.
Due to the limited number of public benefits available to families struggling to pay for funeral expenses, many families find that funeral fundraising is the best option for them. With an online fundraiser, you’re able to quickly reach hundreds (and often thousands) of people who are willing to contribute to help with funeral costs. Ever Loved makes it possible to start an online fundraiser in minutes that you can easily share with your community. When a fundraiser is shared with family, friends, friends of friends, coworkers, religious groups and more, it is often very easy to raise the money you need.