In today’s age of diminishing personal connections, funeral homes stand out as an exception from the rest of the world. These sacred spaces invite visitors to reach out to one another on a human level, fostering a sense of community and shared grief. For this reason, funeral professionals must devote time to seek out other opportunities to create and strengthen personal connections. Funeral home community engagement is about so much more than just getting your name out there. It is essential for helping folks in your town better understand the real people behind the crisp suit and composed demeanor.
Over the past decade and a half following funeral homes on social media, we have seen how hosting social, charitable or educational events can help morticians build important relationships. Funeral professionals that prioritize engagement opportunities become well-known and highly respected in their communities. Many are able to use their role as a mortician to further their individual interests or causes. There are a lot of inspiring examples out there that can be adopted by your funeral home. All that is required to make these events successful is time and dedication.
For those looking to increase their funeral home community engagement, the first question you must ask is: what are you passionate about? Where can you add the most value? Below are some examples we have seen that we hope will inspire your funeral home’s next community engagement initiative.
Here are 7 Funeral Home Community Engagement Ideas to Inspire Your Next Event
1. Social Events for Seniors
Sadly, many elderly people today suffer from loneliness. Funeral directors see firsthand how difficult it is for seniors to rebuild their lives after losing a spouse. Every day, ASD handles calls from older people who are just looking for a listening ear. They remember the compassion and empathy they experienced at the funeral home and turn to you for human connection. This is why hosting social engagements for seniors is such a natural fit for funeral homes to engage with the community. Many have partnered with local nursing homes or senior associations to help facilitate these events.
This past October, Hargrave Funeral Home in Morgan City, LA hosted a glittering prom for seniors in their community complete with a masquerade theme, delicious food, classic tunes, line dancing and a prom king and queen. The funeral home partnered with a local nursing home to hold the event.
Beyond the business benefits this type of event might bring to your funeral home, the personal fulfillment it offers is second to none. How gratifying it must feel to bring together a group of people who are so often isolated and forgotten? How meaningful it must be to see those older folks forging connections with each other? By encouraging seniors to come together in a fun and social setting, you can create an atmosphere of positive associations where they feel comfortable sharing stories and reflecting on the past. If you’re short on time or don’t have the resources to hold an event, you can also opt to sponsor a social gathering held by a senior club. This would provide you with an opportunity to spend time in person with seniors without going to as much effort.
Below are a few great event ideas your funeral home could host or sponsor:
- Movie screenings
- Weekly walks, nature hikes or aerobics classes
- Painting or crafts classes
- Senior Proms
- Field trips
The staff at Linnemann Family Funeral Home supporting their county’s annual Senior Fair
2. Educational Seminars
Many people aren’t sure where to begin when researching life insurance, advanced planning, irrevocable trusts, probate laws, estate taxes and other complicated end-of-life concerns. This is especially true for older folks who are less comfortable using the internet. Funeral directors can act as a resource to those who need this information by offering monthly educational classes on these topics. Providing facts and materials in an interesting format can help you to position yourself as an expert within your community.
A social media post by Emerald Hills Funeral Home & Memorial Park advertising their upcoming advanced planning seminar.
You can hold presentations at your funeral home or partner with local schools, associations, senior centers, and healthcare organizations to coordinate events. Many funeral homes also have standing relationships with restaurant facilities. While not mandatory, it’s a nice touch to provide refreshments. This will surely improve your turnout while showing those who attend that you value their presence.
Marinella Funeral Home promotes their upcoming “Lunch & Learn” event.
3. Fundraisers and Charity Drives
Funeral professionals have a deeper understanding of how precious life is and often feel compelled to support organizations and non-profits that are bringing about positive change in the world. Beyond the desire to make a positive difference, helping those less fortunate also demonstrates your altruistic support for others. These actions inspire goodness in others. We have seen firsthand how funeral homes are able to use their position to rally their community to support important causes. Ask yourself what issues matter most to you and how your funeral home might be best equipped to offer assistance. Use your blog, email newsletter and social sites to spread the message within your community. This will help raise awareness, get others involved and demonstrate your commitment to helping.
Roupp Funeral Home thanks their community for helping to support their annual Thanksgiving food drive.
Below are a few great ways your funeral home can support the causes you care about
- Hold a clothing, food, toy or blood drive for those in need
- Fundraise for a local charity
- Offer a scholarship program to area high school kids
- Sponsor local schools and sports teams
- Participate in a charity walk or run
- Organize a rally or parade to bring awareness to a cause
Laird Funeral Home presents scholarship checks to high school students in their community.
4. Grief Support Events
Establishing connections with folks in your community goes beyond coordinating funeral ceremonies. Very often, family members will turn to the funeral home after their loved one’s service is over for advice on coping with their loss. Directors can play a key role in helping the bereaved by providing resources, literature, classes and/or recommendations. If you are not currently offering any type of bereavement support to families that inquire, we invite you to review our list of trusted grief resources for funeral homes you can use to guide families to the right places to gain support.
Zacherl Funeral Home promotes their upcoming Grief Share support group meeting.
The pandemic put into focus many things often overlooked in the past, including the value of holding in-person events. Now that the days of lock downs and social distancing have come to an end, the importance of human connection has been made all the more evident. It has been proven that bringing people together facilitates the healing process. This is why all funeral homes should consider holding grief support events for anyone in the community struggling with a loss. You are in a unique position to act as a conduit, connecting people to counselors or to other families who have also experienced a loss.
Mountain View Funeral Home, Memorial Park & Crematory invites their community to attend a free support group, no reservations needed.
Your funeral home has several options you can look into for grief support events. You can turn to a trusted resource such as the Grief Recovery Method, GriefShare, or The Compassionate Friends Network to help facilitate the event. You could to invite a grief expert to address an audience. It can even be something as simple as positioning chairs in a circle so people can share stories and connect with one another. Perhaps you could incorporate some type of activity, like creating a memorial keepsake, or invite attendees to take part in a ritual such as a candle lighting ceremony. There are a lot of options, but what it comes down to is what works best for your funeral home and how can you help the most people?
5. Holiday Programs
The holiday season is often a very difficult time for grieving families. Families suffering a loss need to understand they are not alone, and many funeral homes have done a tremendous job promoting that message within their communities. For decades, funeral homes have held holiday remembrance services inviting families that have lost a loved one the previous year to come together. Whether they come to hear their loved one’s name read aloud or to place a memorial ornament on a tree, that acknowledgment is no small thing. It means the world to so many people who often feel invisible this time of year. We know firsthand how important these events are because there is not a single day in December our Call Specialists don’t speak to a caller inquiring about a funeral home’s holiday service. These events also provide an opportunity to reconnect with families you’ve served in the past.
An Annual Memorial Tree Service is held every year by Pantalone Funeral Home to help their community remember lost loved ones.
If you are looking for ideas for events you can hold at your funeral home around Christmas, be sure to explore this list we created featuring different funeral home holiday traditions. Of course, Christmas is not the only time of year that can be challenging for the bereaved. Here are a few more options you can explore for holiday programs at your funeral home:
- A Mother or Father’s Day luncheon
- A Valentine’s social event for widows and widowers
- A Memorial Day or Veterans Day ceremony with military rites
- An Easter egg hunt for children in the community
- A Thanksgiving meal at your local nursing home
Watson-Thomas Funeral Home shares photos from their Widow’s Valentine’s Luncheon
Brainstorm some ideas for a contest your funeral home could hold that would inspire creativity in your neighborhood. This could be as simple as guessing the right number, sharing a photo or posting a comment on a social media post to enter. You could up the ante a bit to make a bigger splash. Invite the public to help you name something such as a new pet. Hold an essay writing competition for high school students. Encourage folks in the community to nominate someone special for an award. Be sure to plan ahead so you can send press release to your local paper and use your social media to share information about your contest in advance.
Silva-Faria Funeral Home announces the winners of their “Send Love Contest.”
7. Veteran Support Initiatives
Funeral homes have a long history of supporting and championing for veterans. We challenge you find another profession that does more to honor and celebrate America’s military forces. There are a lot of ways you can support veterans and bolster your funeral home community engagement efforts. Maybe its inspiring those in your town to get involved by donating items to soldiers overseas or taking part in a Wreaths Across America event. Or, you could focus on building relationships with the local veteran community and determining what some of the unmet needs are of those individuals.
Huff-Guthrie Funeral Home treats their local VFW members to a special Veterans Day lunch.
For funeral homes that want to help our military members and engage with their communities, there are no shortage of options. In fact, we put together a list of different ways funeral homes support veterans we hope will inspire you. Below are a few of the great ideas we have seen.
- Collect items or cards for service members overseas
- Hold military recognition events
- Create powerful displays to honor military members
- Offer transportation to vets for veteran memorial events
- Start a donation drive for impoverished vets in your area
- Host an appreciation meal for your local VFW
- Offer a flag retirement program
- Coordinate Wreaths Across America events
The directors at West Cobb Funeral Home and Crematory hosting a National Cemetery bus tour and lunch event for veterans and their family members.
What funeral home community engagement events has your funeral home hosted? Which idea do you like best? Please share in the comments below.