Community Involvement and Outreach Ideas for Funeral Homes

Marketing your firm looks a lot different these days. With countless social media channels and digital marketing tactics, there are so many new ways to reach people in your community. However, it remains true that one of the best ways to build lasting connections is to get out in your community and meet people.

Funeral professionals have a very distinct role in their communities. They are called on to provide guidance and support during a family’s time of need. Successful funeral professionals understand the importance of connecting with individuals and families in their community—both inside and outside of the funeral home. Taking an active approach to becoming part of your community not only showcases your firm in a positive light but can also give your business a PR boost with an increase in brand awareness, helping your funeral home stand out from your competitors. Keep reading to discover 18 ways you can improve your funeral home’s community involvement and outreach efforts.

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Educate Your Community About Your Funeral Home


1. Host Community Presentations

Hosting group presentations is an important marketing component for many funeral businesses. It can establish your funeral home staff as experts and build trust while also sharing the benefits of advance funeral planning. Cheryl Lankford of Lankford Funeral Home and Crematory attributes part of their success to being involved and giving community presentations about advance funeral planning. “Going out into the community, setting up a presentation for about an hour and answering questions has been one of the greatest lead sources we’ve had,” she explains. “Nobody wants to talk about death. But then it happens and becomes close to them, and it becomes important.”

During the coronavirus pandemic, it became nearly impossible to hold lunch-and-learn or community education events. Fortunately, technology was available for virtual events to increase their popularity. Funeral home owners can now host virtual community presentations to stay connected while presenting the value of advance funeral planning. 

2. Host Learning Opportunities

Your knowledge about funerals and memorialization is valuable in itself. Hosting community seminars about related topics can help differentiate your firm and build your reputation as a trusted resource for funeral planning.

Take your community’s history and memorialization traditions into account when thinking about potential outreach activities. For example, some cemeteries host walking tours that highlight memorials of historical and local interest. Is there an opportunity to organize or support this type of event in your community?

As you plan the logistics for your event, you’ll also need to build a strategy to make sure it is well attended. Branch out through many different promotional channels, including your funeral home's social media, local media outlets, community groups and brand advocates to help share the details about your event and what participants will gain by attending.

3. Offer Your Expertise

For times when hosting or participating in community outreach events just isn’t possible, there are other ways to get involved that require less time and can still be budget-friendly. For example, you could provide guest articles about funeral planning to a publication in your area or offer to share your expertise on a local radio or television program. These efforts can also provide great opportunities to increase the visibility of the aftercare programs your firm offers.

4. Use Social Media

Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest are among the many social media channels you can leverage to engage your community, promote your events before, during and after they occur and encourage discussion about things that are relevant to your client families. Cross-promote your social media presence on your funeral home website. Ask your web designer how to show your active social media feeds on your website.


Encourage and Support Volunteerism

Good help is definitely hard to find these days, but you’ll be doing yourself a favor if you hire people who demonstrate an affinity for community service. Whether you pick a cause or event to support as a team or encourage staff members to volunteer for things they find rewarding, your firm can benefit from a culture of volunteerism. Not only will you extend your community outreach, but your employees will also appreciate the time you give them to help others in need.

5. Assist Your Local Schools and Students

Unfortunately, all too many school districts are underfunded. Work with your local school board, principals and teachers to identify things you can do to help. For example:

  • Provide paper and supplies to students’ art classes.
  • Help pay material fees for students from underprivileged families.
  • Be a collection point for book drives.
  • Volunteer to help at-risk or learning-disabled students.
  • Offer support for teachers working in classrooms where English is a student’s second language if you speak a foreign language.
  • Participate in career days and talk about funeral service as a profession.
  • Provide financial aid in the form of scholarships for graduating high school seniors attending local colleges, trade schools or universities.


6. Help with Children’s Causes and Events

If a children’s festival exists in your community, participate. You can make your booth fun and relevant by having an activity designed for children and their grandparents or parents to complete together. Create a booklet or a template that helps a child “interview” her grandparent to learn more about their life, accomplishments, hobbies and so on. What better way for kids of all ages to learn more about their family history? Done right, it will be an experience to remember long after the event itself.


Host, Sponsor and Support Community Events

All communities, large and small, host events to bring people together. Generally, these events cost money to create, which can open several opportunities to sponsor some (or all) of an event. Sponsorships generally feature perks like having your name displayed during the event or listed in print materials. If you have the extra resources available, this is an easy way to boost name recognition among community members.

If your funeral home has the time and resources, you could take the idea of sponsorship one step further and offer an event of your own. Many funeral homes host senior movie days, preneed lunch-and-learn events or open houses to encourage community members to visit their facilities and learn about their services.

7. Get Involved with Existing Events

Community outreach often includes getting involved with local festivals, fairs, parades and celebrations. If a large sponsorship commitment isn’t in your budget right now, there are likely alternative ways to participate through smaller donations or by providing volunteers or other resources.

Talk to your staff about their interests to discover how you can help local causes they are passionate about. For example, you could sponsor a group of participants in a charity run or offer time off for volunteer work. Getting your team involved in your firm’s outreach efforts can have the added benefit of creating an even better funeral home workplace, too.

8. Hold Bereavement or Memorial Services

Having a safe space to share grief and deal with the loss of a loved one is another way to reach out to those in your community. Once a month, Murphy Ruffenach Brian W. Donnelly Funeral Home holds a bereavement service. They bring in a counselor to help the families who attend and open it up to other funeral homes in the area to invite their families as well. “People need a place to go,” states Brian Donnelly. “We strive to treat every family as if they were a member of our own family.”

9. Host and Support Fundraising Events

Many funeral professionals work in or close to the communities where they grew up. Use your personal and professional “spheres of influence” to help support fundraising efforts. Monetary donations aren’t the only way to assist worthy causes – support comes in many forms, including promotion through traditional advertising as well as social media.

10. Host Events for Seniors

Many businesses focus on obvious ways to be advocates for seniors in a community. Get creative. Most seniors, whether they live at home or in an assisted living situation, will appreciate opportunities to socialize and be entertained. Host a luncheon featuring a speaker such as a locally known news/sports personality or comedian to provide light and happy content. Work with a movie theater to host an event so seniors can enjoy a first-run movie or a classic favorite. Engage seniors in ways that help them remain active and social, and their families will thank you for it! 

11. Sponsor A Local Run

Sponsored events can take time to organize and manage, so offer some resources and promotional support. You can provide staffing for registration, refreshments or first aid stations. Consider sponsoring a team to run in the event. Again, some events offer visibility just for providing volunteers—it’s not always about money.

12. Sponsor A Holiday Event

John M. Ireland and Son Funeral Home hosts two annual holiday events in their community of Moore, OK: the Halloween Haunt and a Christmas Parade. Annual attendance at these events has grown to more than 12,000 people. John provides all the candy and popcorn for the events through another one of their family businesses, the Candy Castle and Popcorn Palace. “We have a big reputation in the community … this is his life,” Johnathon Ireland shared about his father, John. “He lives and breathes the funeral business and is here 24/7.” With his high level of community involvement, Ireland has won countless awards for patron of the year from many local organizations, building their brand and business.


Provide Charitable Donations


13. Provide A Pro Bono Service to A Family in Need

A major news story from Iowa was the funeral of Charles Lanam, a homeless Korean War Veteran who never married, had no children and outlived all of his relatives. Marty Mitchell, owner of Mitchell Family Funeral Home in Marshalltown, IA, sent out a simple request on Facebook asking people to attend this Veteran’s funeral. A few days later, more than 100 people arrived at the Iowa Veterans Home cemetery for the service.

This funeral home’s good deed brought the Marshalltown community together for a common cause. Plus, the service attracted attention from media all over the state, including one of Iowa’s largest news outlets, which featured stories about the Mitchell Family Funeral Home on-air, online and on social media.

14. Set Up Quarterly or Yearly Charitable Donations

If you or your staff have strong ties with a local charity, consider making quarterly or yearly donations on behalf of the funeral home. Hosting a check presentation ceremony is a great way to give back to your community while also promoting the partnership between your firm and the causes you and your staff care about. There are many national charities that have local satellite offices, but more than likely there are small, homegrown non-profits that could benefit even more from your donation.


Support Local Businesses and Organizations 

Community outreach should build connections that lead to brand loyalty and referrals, and one of the most effective ways to achieve this is to tailor your efforts to the needs of specific organizations.

Give credit to local vendors to show your community you are dedicated to promoting small businesses. Many funeral homes partner with local flower shops, caterers and car dealerships on a regular basis. Allowing a limited amount of advertising within your funeral home, like displaying business cards in common areas, tagging businesses on social media and posting their website’s links are easy ways to show you support local business owners. Not only will you be helping the economy of the community you live in, but you will also be creating relationships with business owners who may recommend you to friends and family. 

15. Partner with the Local Animal Shelter

Aside from the growth in pet memorial services provided by many funeral homes across the country, firms are finding value in partnering with local animal rescue organizations to promote pet safety, pet adoption and pet therapy awareness. Some funeral homes sponsor a weekly or monthly pet adoption segment on radio or television programs. Many firms work with rescue organizations to arrange pet therapy visits to nursing homes or assisted living facilities.

16. Sponsor A Local Sports Team

Nothing says fun and dedication like supporting kids in your community. Sponsoring a Little League team or a kids’ recreational sports organization is a great way to earn brand recognition in your community. Your sponsorship or donation will help keep costs low for parents, which can get more kids involved with team sports and also generate goodwill for your funeral home business. 

17. Support Military, Police, Fire and EMS Personnel 

There are so many things a community can do to show appreciation for the people who protect our freedom and safety. Make sure you’re connected to their support organizations. Try to remain informed about veterans, police officers, firefighters and paramedics who might need community support due to illness, injury or financial hardship. Consider sponsoring or co-sponsoring an annual event to raise awareness and money for organizations that provide services for these heroes. 

18. Support Veterans Groups

There are countless ways to honor the Veterans in your community. By opening the doors to your funeral home or sharing helpful resources, you can connect Veterans with the right people and introduce them to new opportunities that they may not have otherwise known.

No matter what community outreach programs you utilize in your funeral home, it is important to find what works best for you and your community. Using your talents and expertise will help build relationships and establish your firm as the authority. This list is only a sampling of community outreach ideas – what programs have you successfully implemented for your funeral business? Share your answer in the comments below.

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