Freeman Brothers was first established as a funeral director in 1855. The company is still based at the original Horsham office, and has developed a further three across the county – in Billingshurst, Crawley and Hurstpierpoint. A fairly recent innovation for the business has been the adoption of online tribute pages. Community Co-Ordinator, Becky, shares how to make the most of them…
You may have seen via our social media channels that 2022 was a huge year for online donations. We first moved to an online donation platform in August 2018, and this was a significant step for us. Several options were available at the time, and we took our time to choose the provider which was right for us and our customers.
Back then – only partly due to this being pre-COVID19 – things in the funeral industry were quite different, and many people were reluctant to donate online, so we had a predictably quiet start and plenty of time to adjust. Once the pandemic hit, we saw a huge increase in donations, and a greater enthusiasm for engaging with online tributes. Here are our tips on making the pages a success.
Online tribute pages for charity donations
The main purpose of the pages is to encourage people to donate to your chosen charity or charities. Online donations have also allowed for the easy integration of GiftAid where applicable. Our record total for 2022 was over £230,000, with almost 4,000 unique donations made.
In my opinion, one of the greatest things about online pages is the ease of sharing them. It’s straightforward to send the link on, whether you publicly share it via social media, or distribute it privately via email or a messaging platform such as WhatsApp. Those who receive it are also then able to share it on, which can help with the burden of tasks facing those who are recently bereaved. Donation pages work well from any internet-enabled device, so the person receiving the link will be able to click it straight away and add funds easily.
Sharing funeral service information via online tribute pages
A small number of customers choose for funeral arrangements to be private, and this can still be honoured via a tribute page. Details regarding date, time and location simply aren’t made public. However, for those who would like to use the tribute page as a kind of invitation, and a way of sharing details, these can be available here.
A map widget is included to display the location of the service. The date and time of the service and any reception or additional events can be displayed via the tribute pages too. As with the donation element, this can be a good way of sharing the information if you’re worried about receiving lots of questions at a time when you don’t feel able to respond. Again, it means that friends and family members can also share the link on your behalf.
Personalising an online tribute page
One of the features we had always appreciated about these pages is the ability to upload photos, and personalise the text. As part of our service to customers, we set up the basics of the page, and then hand over guardianship of it to you. It then becomes a tribute that you and others curate, to share photos, memories and stories.
Recently, MuchLoved responded to feedback and added the functionality to upload an Order of Service to tribute pages. This is something which has been welcomed by those who are attending remotely. Viewing funerals online in the UK was very uncommon until March 2020 and, during the earliest days of the pandemic, none of us in the funeral industry were sure how popular this would be once travel and social distancing restrictions eased. As it has become more socially acceptable as a means of being present at a service, remote funerals have also broadened accessibility, and are now very much the norm, so this increased function in order to include those watching via the internet is brilliant.
Online funeral details have a lot of power
We’re so pleased that the digitisation of funerals is here to stay. As an innovation, it has allowed those across the planet to feel connected to a service that they perhaps can’t attend in person, as well as vastly increasing the amount of funds donated to charity in memory of those who have died. At this stage, we’re not sure what the future holds in terms of further improvements, but we’re looking forward to finding out.
You can view our forthcoming and recent funerals here.