How to Start a Memorial Fund

Finding meaning in the loss of a loved one often feels impossible. When those we care about are taken from us prematurely, their deaths defy logic or comprehension. For some families, honoring a relative who passed away by creating a foundation in his or her name helps to begin the process of coming to terms with a great loss. It keeps the memory of the deceased alive while also improving the lives of others.


Start a Memorial Fundraiser
How to Start a Memorial Fund

To Honor and Help

A memorial fund can be set up for a wealth of reasons—to perpetuate the spirit and character of the deceased, create scholarships that honor their passion for sports, scholarly subjects or causes, and help the surviving relatives cope with unexpected expenses.

  • 1,214 (the number of families who have already turned to YouCaring to start a memorial fund)
  • 4 million (the number of supporters who make up the compassionate YouCaring community)
  • 1-9 (ages at which it is particularly important for children to express grief after a loss and for survivors to do something meaningful)

Six Meaningful Memorial Fund Ideas

  1. Start a Fund That Promotes a Quality of the Deceased's Personality

    Start a fund that promotes a quality

    The Riley Sandler Memorial Foundation, YouCaring's most successful campaign to date, was created by Riley's parents after her tragic death at 9 years old. It has raised more than $1.8 million to fund child welfare and encourage young people to be “the truest of friends.” The foundation set up the Riley's Way program, which aims to reflect Riley’s benevolent character by encouraging kindness and friendship among children.

  2. Directly Help the Family in Their Time of Mourning

    Directly help with the family in their time of mourning

    Another form of memorial crowdfunding is more relevant to friends and loved ones of the surviving family. If you know a family that has recently experienced a tragic loss, offset the financial burden that comes with the death. Eloi Vasquez, a University of California, Berkeley student died unexpectedly in March 2015, and family friends set up a YouCaring campaign that garnered almost $100,000 in donations. These donations can offset funeral costs and other future expenses and allow parents or a spouse to take time off work to be with the family.

  3. Fund Hope for a Cure

    Fund hope for a cure

    A memorial fund can raise money for research to find a cure for the disease from which your loved one suffered, or help others afflicted with the disease. The Karen Wellington Foundation for Living with Breast Cancer was founded in 2007 to Karen Wellington, a mother of two who passed away from the disease at 40. The foundation focuses on providing outings, vacations and other memorable experiences to women currently living with breast cancer. It's an example of a memorial that relates to the loved one's personality. There are many worthy organizations dedicated to funding cancer research, so her survivors focused on brightening up the lives of women going through treatment.

  4. Create a Scholarship Fund

    Create a scholarship fund

    A memorial scholarship fund can honor those who were especially passionate about sports, an art or academics. When the Morgan family of Encinitas, Calif., lost their 21-year-old son Zake, parents Richard and Anneliese created a yearly scholarship fund for a student at his high school alma mater. They selected three teachers Zake was particularly fond of and asked them to choose a student who had Zake's passion for learning. For more advise read How To Start a Scholarship Fund to Honor a Loved One.

  5. Honor a Cause

    Honor a cause

    A memorial fund can support a cause that someone believed in. For someone who loved the outdoors and was particularly passionate about the environment, for example, a fund could allocate resources to organizations that promote sustainability. Or to honor of a devoted educator, a memorial fund might support enrichment programs for lower-income students or a struggling school district.

  6. Create a Tribute Piece

    Create a tribute piece

    Did your loved one spend a lot of time at a local park? What about a concert hall, church or library? You can create a tribute piece in a location that was important them. Crowdfund to finance a statue, plaque or bench that commemorates their life, perhaps with an accompanying donation. Not only will you make the public space more beautiful, but everyone who enjoys it will think of your friend or relative.

Pay Tribute to a Loved One Today

By creating one of the memorial funds listed above or coming up with your own unique way of commemorating your loved one, you can find comfort in the midst of tragedy. Memorial crowdfunding allows you to begin to come to terms with the loss of a loved one while planting the seeds of compassion through YouCaring. If you haven't already started a free memorial fund campaign, launch one today.