Community Connections : 15 Ideas for your Funeral Home's Revamped Community Outreach Effort!

In the beginning of the summer, our company hosted a contest called “Community Connections”. Our goal was to create a forum by which funeral homes could share the unique ways they reach out to their individual communities.

New, unique and different ways to reach your community is becoming necessary and vital to the success of a funeral home. As I mentioned in “Community Connections: Part I”, memberships in both fraternal and religious organizations are down dramatically. And if you are using these organizations as your primary method of advertising, they will only continue to become less relevant and efficient at generating leads in the future as they are not reaching as many people as they used to.

First and foremost, thank you to all those who submitted their unique community outreach ideas! Each one of you embraced the concept that we hoped to achieve – share and collaborate ideas together to make our individual funeral homes stronger within our own markets. We had funeral homes from Georgia to Nevada to New Jersey all respond with creative and unique ways that they reach out to their communities.

So drumroll please…

The winner of our contest was Kenneth Cone of Cone Funeral Home in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The following is Cone’s submission:

​​“On Black Friday, November 26, 2015, we had the U.S. Vets Motorcycle Club South Central Chapter Orphan Brigade conduct an all-night vigil and sleep over at our funeral home. The purpose of this event was to raise awareness of Homeless Veterans in our community, raise funds, and also collect clothing for the homeless veterans that are in our area. The event started at noon on Friday and ended at noon on Saturday. As Cone Funeral Home is located on a major intersection in our community; We raised $3,500 and filled a 24 ft. truck full of food and clothing that was given to the Kentucky veterans. We are still a collection point for clothing and money if someone wishes to drop off.”

Great job to Cone Funeral Home!

Now for a couple unique community outreach ideas that were also submitted and I have come across in my travels to various funeral homes:

  1. A funeral home situated in a town that has a small lake held their own "Family Fishing Tournament". They had burgers, hot dogs, activities for the little kids and even trophies for the biggest fish!

  2. Host the “Community/Town Yard Sale” in the spring or fall. This will attract businesses to your parking lot. Invite people to tour the funeral home while they are there, set up a little table yourself with preneed information, offer coffee/drinks/light fare inside, etc.

  3. One funeral home partnered with a well-known photographer and restaurant in town. Together the funeral home paid on Mother’s and Father’s day to have the photographer set up in a section of the restaurant to where families could get "Multigenerational Pictures" done before or after dinner (when everybody is already spending time together, dressed up, etc.)!

  4. Hosting a "National Pet Memorial Day" celebration where families can come and paint a rock with the pet’s name that later becomes part of a garden, listen to a speaker on pet loss, share paw print cookies and cake, receive a paw print made out of wild flower seeds to plant in their garden, and more! – Van Tassel Funeral Home (Bloomfield, New Jersey)

  1. According to a study, 61% of wine drinkers earn over $50,000 per year and the second largest subsection of those who drink wine are baby boomers. One funeral home became a large sponsor of a "Wine Tasting" at a local winery. The target market makes sense to me!

  2. Paint nights/stained glass nights are becoming an extremely popular event for all ages. Host a senior citizen “Paint Night” at the funeral home complete with drinks and light fare.

  3. Members of the public are more into their physical health than they have ever been. Running, biking or walking events have now become an event that entire families (and multiple generations) participate in together. Sponsor (get your name on that T shirt) or even host a race event! Just think a "Halloween 5K" sponsored by the local funeral home, what fun!

  4. Contact a local animal shelter and offer your parking lot on a Sunday morning (or any weekend time you are unlikely to schedule a funeral) as a place to host a “Pet Adoption” event! This brings not only those looking for a new pet, but also those who just love animals right to your back door.

  5. A small town holds a large Memorial Day celebration every year. The event during the weekend long celebration that attracts the largest group of people is a "Butterfly Release" in the local park. Families who use that funeral home and those who do not are all welcome to participate in the Butterfly release to commemorate any loved one who has passed on.

  6. Become a "Drop off center/offer free notary services". Many funeral homes use this as a way to attract people into the funeral home throughout the year. There are a number of charitable causes that you can become a drop off center for such as food banks, retired flags, old clothes, etc.

  7. Another funeral home sponsors a “Senior Citizen Olympics” which happens over the course of a week or so with physical and or mental games for the local nursing homes.

  8. A funeral home hosts a Veteran’s Day BBQ every year for the local Veteran’s and families, reaching out to the Veteran’s organizations such as the VFW.

  9. Offer to allow local organizations and groups to use your larger parts of your facility at "No-charge for meetings or events"!

  10. A small town that boasts one of the most winningest football teams in the region has an extremely loyal following to that high school team. One funeral home sponsored an “End of Year Football Banquet" for the players and families (which included the high-schoolers parents and grandparents), and provided that funeral home a way to reach out to a lot of people at one time!

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