Funeral Costs

GoFundMe As the New Obituary: Crunching the Numbers

Best obituary evar

We have been pretty vocal about our concerns that GoFundMe and other personal crowdfunding sites are quickly becoming “the new obituary,” serving as a substitute for life insurance and estate planning. And now we have this new research from NerdWallet that shows the ‘problem’ may be even worse than we suspected. (Disclaimer because someone is bound to get butthurt over this: we don’t believe that funeral campaigns are necessarily bad; we are just concerned that it seems as though when someone dies, the survivors’ first instinct is to put up a campaign.)

NW looked at four popular crowdfunding sites — GiveForward, GoFundMe, Plumfund and YouCaring — and found that funeral campaigns make up a whopping 20% of all campaigns for at least one crowdfunding platform.

GoFundMe would not say just how large of a chunk funeral campaigns are of their overall campaigns, however the other three reported the funeral share percentage of overall campaigns on their respective platforms as follows:

  • GiveForward 20%
  • Plumfund 4.3%
  • YouCaring 5%

The GiveForward data shows that the number of funeral fundraising pages is second only to medical-expense campaigns. In addition, GiveForward says “fundraising campaigns after a death have increased at twice the rate of other crowdfunded causes.”

GoFundMe’s Kelsea Little told NerdWallet “Since our launch in May of 2010, more than $340 million has been raised in this category, across over 113,000 campaigns.” So that’s out of the $2 billion GoFundMe has raised (as of February 2016), you do the math. I came up with 17% but I’m horrible at math.

Anyhoo, more interesting data from the research:

Plumfund hosted 255 campaigns for funerals in 2015, a 263% increase from 2014, a rate that is on par with growth in other categories, according to CEO Sara Margulis. YouCaring, which provided data on the number of funeral campaigns for one year, said it hosted 10,117 campaigns in 2015.

At GiveForward, the number of campaigns for funeral expenses has grown twice as fast as all other fundraising categories over the past three years, says CEO Josh Chapman. What’s more, these fundraisers receive an average of 50% more page views than other campaigns, something Chapman attributed to the often tragic nature of the stories behind the fundraising.

“People tend to plan for these expenses when they’re older or if they have a terminal illness, but these campaigns often involve unexpected deaths and, unfortunately, younger people,” he says.

What this means, of course, is that funeral fundraisers are not going anywhere any time soon, especially as purchases of life insurance decline.

Somewhat tangential side note: I swear if I get hit by a bus tomorrow and you start a GoFundMe campaign for me, my ghost will hunt you down and haunt the everloving crap out of you for the remainder of your days.