Online Donations Via Card Payment: Your Questions Answered

Freeman Brothers was first established as a funeral director in Horsham, West Sussex, in 1855. The company now has a further three offices across the county in Billingshurst, Crawley and Hurstpierpoint, and continues to provide personalised funeral services to those who require them. Colleagues often receive questions regarding online charity donations associated with funeral services, […]

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Freeman Brothers was first established as a funeral director in Horsham, West Sussex, in 1855. The company now has a further three offices across the county in Billingshurst, Crawley and Hurstpierpoint, and continues to provide personalised funeral services to those who require them. Colleagues often receive questions regarding online charity donations associated with funeral services, and Becky tackles some of these here…

In August 2018, Freeman Brothers began offering online tribute pages as a way for customers to share details of funeral arrangements, and donate via card payment to nominated charities. Previously, we had accepted donations via card by donors calling our offices and the transactions being processed via our card machine.

We still occasionally receive the request to donate in this manner and, more commonly, have prospective donors tell us that they don’t want to donate online and instead will send a cheque. However, with cheque use continuing to decline, we wanted to share some information in the hope of helping people feel more comfortable donating online via card payments.

What is the importance of funeral donations?
Data gathered by Legacy Futures reveals some interesting statistics. The organisation found that a third of adults have made an in-memory donation in the last year. The in-memory donation market is also valued at between £1.8 and £2.4 billion annually, with funeral donations themselves currently still representing the largest portion of this. With the amount of money changing hands in mind, the protection of consumers is important, and therefore payment methods must be considered carefully.

How are card donations processed?
For the production and hosting of tribute pages, Freeman Brothers chose to make use of a third-party organisation known as MuchLoved. There were several suppliers available at the time, and MuchLoved stood out thanks to sharing our own ethos of personalised service and ensuring that the nominated charities received maximum funds from those donated.

As such, MuchLoved manages the online payment platform, and you can find a lot of key information about this via their FAQ page. MuchLoved uses card details in the same way that you would when making a purchase in a physical shop – your details are used to request the funds you specify from your bank, and then aren’t held for any further period of time. The difference between an online transaction and one you make on the high street is that you have to manually input your card details (or permit your device to save them and paste them in for you – which is not the same thing as the retailer storing your details).

We believe that this is much more secure than our previous system: whilst all staff at Freeman Brothers are carefully trained and monitored, members of the public were not to know that staff weren’t taking note of their card details for later use.

What are the other benefits to donating by card?
In addition to maintaining control of the transaction, paying by card has other positives. Unlike via cheque, the amount will leave your account almost immediately. Our policy with cheque donations is that cheques are retained by Freeman Brothers until five weeks after a funeral has taken place. They are then all sent together via post to the charity, meaning that they arrive a few days later, and must still then be banked by the charity – you cannot be certain when the money will be requested from your account, and we still often receive phone calls from donors who are confused as to why the money hasn’t yet been taken.

Cheque payments are also widely-regarded as being the most vulnerable type of payment when it comes to fraud. In 2020, it was found that 66% of cheque payments were impacted by fraud (and this represented a significant decline on the previous year, thanks to fewer being used due to the COVID-19 pandemic). In the digital era, it is becoming increasingly dangerous to send items such as cheques via means you are not fully in control of.

MuchLoved requests a minimum donation of £5 per transaction, but beyond that it is entirely your choice to specify the amount donated. In addition, they take care of claiming relief via Gift Aid, meaning that the government tops up eligible donations – this is a service that we are not able to administrate in-house, but enables your donation to receive a bonus at no cost to you. You are able to anonymise yourself, so that your name is not publicised as the donor, and you can choose to conceal how much you donated too – this is an either/or, it is entirely your choice to reveal one, both, or neither of these pieces of information to the wider public via the Tribute Page.

And what if I still don’t want to donate via card?
For the time being, we are still accepting cheque payments as previously stated, and cash donation boxes are available at funeral services. We have no current plan to withdraw either of these options, but cannot promise that this will be the case forever.

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Written by Becky Hughes

Community Co-Ordinator

March 6, 2024

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