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Are alternatives to cremation or burial an option for donors?

As legacy fundraisers our job is to inspire donors to consider leaving a gift in their will. In

As legacy fundraisers our job is to inspire donors to consider leaving a gift in their will. In our haste to move donors through a pipeline and write inspiring stories of impact, have we taken the time to think about all the small details that go through donors’ minds?

I’m not talking about who gets grandma’s china collection or uncle Bob’s gold watch. I’m talking about funeral arrangements, instructions on burial or cremation, etc. These are heavy topics to ponder when planning for one’s estate planning.

This led me to wonder about the different burial options available to everyone beyond the traditional embalming (which is highly toxic) and cremation. It also made me wonder if, as fundraising professionals. we’re informed enough to answer questions that may arise in conversation with donors. 


Do you know about greener alternatives to burials/cremation? 


Green burial

With the growing concern over the environment and the current climate crisis, a green burial may be of interest to our environmentally-conscious donors. Green funerals reduce carbon footprint by 30kg of CO2 per burial and many in the funeral industry mask this environmental option.

Depending on the country, the body is shrouded and/or placed in a casket and no embalming is done on the body. There are even cocoons being tested by Italian designers: 

Source: Capsula Mundi on the De Ode Funeral Services, in Amsterdam.


Interestingly, Canada has a Green Burial Society of Canada that encourages cemeteries to offer green burials. The US also has a similar organization called the Green Burial Council. The UK has the Association of Natural Burial Grounds. Lastly, Gathered Here recently wrote a guide to green burials for Australia.

Lastly, there are other, equally environmentally-conscious options for donors (depending on your local jurisdiction, of course):

Of course, this is not to say that we need to include this in our marketing materials or add it to the list of things to discuss with donors. The important thing is that we have a general idea of the different options available to donors so we may point them in the right direction because at the end of the day, we are here to serve them.

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