Making a cash donation at a funeral can be tricky. The combination of emotional grief and financial need can make donating an awkward process. It helps to understand the parameters of what is appropriate and what is not when you donate.
On average, the funeral donation amount from a classmate or a colleague is around $20. Regular friends usually donate $80-$100 and close friends may donate up to $150-$200 to show the respect and love of their friendship. Close relatives often donate more than $200 and up or help cover the funeral costs.
The most appropriate action is to follow the instruction of the family. If they seek online donations to pay for the funeral, support the deceased’s favorite cause, or the survivors need financial support, follow their instructions.
Don’t make a cash donation unless you have no other option. Such donations can be awkward and even embarrassing. The only two exceptions are when a cash donation is requested, or you have no other option.
Unless otherwise instructed by the family, do donate the same monetary value as a bouquet of funeral flowers. Such donations can be $50 to $100 or more depending on your relationship to the deceased. What follows are guidelines when making donations based on your relationship to the deceased.
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Donation Amount as Classmate or Colleague
This is a person that you know, but not well enough to call a friend. This is the most distant of all relationships in which a donation is appropriate for a funeral.
In this case, a gift basket or even a card is often the most appropriate gesture. Unless donations have a minimum set amount, whatever you give should be somewhat small. $20 or less is a common amount for classmates, colleagues, or co-workers. Giving more may be quite awkward depending on the circumstances.
You should limit the donation to the average price of funeral flowers. That will be the upper limit and a good one to follow. If you are one of several coworkers or colleagues, consider pooling your money for a single, large donation.
Donation Amount as a Friend
Quite often, friends are closer than family. For those who have lost a dear friend the gift you give should start at the price of funeral flowers. Depending on the length and closeness of the friendship, you can certainly give more.
This means an average donation of $80 to $100. However, a bouquet wreath is often well over $100. So, you should consider $200 to be the upper limit. If you are part of a group of friends, such as a college fraternity or sorority, members of a team, or other long-term relationships, you can pool your money for a single donation.
In addition to money, you may want to provide a gift. Something appropriate to your friendship. You can choose from one of the following.
- Photo album of the deceased and their friends
- An item the deceased always wanted or cherished
- A plaque or commemoration that honors the deceased
You can also donate to their favorite charity or set up a trust fund in their name. This is a great way to honor your friendship while helping others.
Donation Amount as a Relative
Family is the closet of all relationships. If you have known the deceased all your life, it is a bond that is unique and quite powerful. However, the donation you provide should be based on the closeness of your relationship to the deceased and their family.
In other words, distant relatives are not expected to donate as much as close ones. If the relations is a distant one, then you should use the same guidelines as you would a friend. Even separate by many miles, you can demonstrate your care and kindness by offering a gift online or by donating to their favorite charity.
A closer family relationship, such as a grandchild, aunt, uncle, niece, or nephew means that you can contribute more. This does not mean you have to give more money, but your time and care will be appreciated. As a close family relative, you should do what you can to help ease the grief and loss for the family.
A good monetary range is $200, although it will depend on several factors. For the most part, your donation should be handled discretely. Contributing to a charity or to help pay for funeral expenses, make sure the amount is appropriate and can assist where needed.
Donation Amount for Someone You Do Not Know
This can be a person you may never have met but had a profound influence on your life or someone close to you. It could be a celebrity, politician, or someone that your family or friends knew well. It may also be someone who was in your field or industry. A philosopher, author, or influencer that helped you in some manner by their work.
You should not feel compelled to donate to someone who was not part of your life. However, there are times in which a donation may seem appropriate. If you feel the need to donate, you can donate to their favorite charity, a crowdfunding account to help pay for funeral expenses, or send flowers.
There is no minimum amount since there is no direct connection to you. But if you feel like a donation is warranted, then keep it discrete and appropriate.
How to Decide Your Donation Amount
Donating at a funeral may be awkward, but it can also be quite helpful. Before you decide on the type or amount of the donation keep the following in mind.
- Follow the Donation Request of the Family
- Keep the Amount in Line with Funeral Flowers
- Adjust the Amount Based on Your Relationship to the Deceased
- Avoid Making a Cash Donation at the Funeral if at all Possible
Keep the best interest of the recipient of the donation in mind. This means whatever you give should be something they can use. Keep your own interest to a minimum. It is the family that is being supported by your donation.
By following these steps, you can make the appropriate donation. Be sure to account for all other circumstances that may affect the type and size of your donation. When in doubt, funeral flowers are always appropriate. Add in a thoughtful card and you have helped to lift someone’s spirit even in this time of grief.
When to Give Donation at Funeral
This is a great question because many people may forget or simply not know the best time to donate. If at all possible, you should donate beforehand. Especially if your donation addresses funeral expenses or helps ease the financial burden of the family.
In most cases, online donations should be listed in the funeral notice. This is the page on the website for the deceased as set up by the funeral home and immediate family. If donations are being requested, you should find a link on that page.
If you do not find a link, you may want to contact or email the family to see if there is a place to donate. Doing so before the funeral if possible is best. But what if they have no designated donation link or area?
- Provide Funeral Flowers
- Bring Photos of the Deceased
- Offer a Gift that is Useful and Appropriate
If you are donating money, ask the funeral home if there is a place for donations. Quite often, there is a designated place where a donation can be made if the family has set one up.
And finally, you can always donate after the funeral is over.
If You Can’t Be there in Person
If the family has set up an online account for donations, that is the appropriate place to make them. This means that the family itself has provided the guidelines for what to do if you decide to donate. Go to the site, read the instructions, and follow them. Even if you want to give more or in person, remember that following the family’s wishes is the most appropriate step.
Many families will set up GoFundMe accounts. These are crowdfunding sites where money is collected for the family. You can donate and inform those who knew the deceased about such sites. This provides the perfect place to donate remotely.
In-person donations should be avoided if at all possible. It was not long ago that people would put cash inside a card and hand it to the family. Today, you can mail the card and enclose a check or money order. All you need is the address. Putting cash in the mail is a bad idea since there is no way to track the money.
If the circumstances do not allow you to donate in any way other than in person at the funeral, then do not make the donation obvious. Enclose the donation in a card that is inside an envelope and place it in the designated location. If no such designated location exists, then you can hand the card to the family. But be sure to ask them first.