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How Do I Start a Memorial Fund?

Shutterstock.com / Aliaksei Kruhlenia

On Giving Tuesday, pay forward a loved one's legacy and help those in need.

November 29 is #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving that kicks off the charitable season when many focus on holiday and end-of-year giving. #GivingTuesday is just one day out of many, but it reminds us of the importance of giving back and getting involved. On #GivingTuesday, you can pay forward a loved one's legacy and help those in need by starting a memorial fund.

When someone dies, they don’t disappear completely; they remain in memories, dreams, the stories we tell... and, thanks to nonprofit CharitySmith, they can continue impacting the world as they might have were they still living.

Honoring a Life Story for Years to Come

CharitySmith is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that helps users easily launch memorial funds honoring loved ones’ lives. Tim Meadows, a CharitySmith user who has since joined the group's Board of Trustees, first discovered the nonprofit while mourning his son Christopher. Christopher, an EMT, died in an accident while responding to a medical call. His father wanted to start a memorial scholarship to honor his life, but was discouraged when he found the process involved mountains of paperwork and uncertain periods of waiting.


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“Creating a memorial fund can be a daunting task,” he said. “I found you get mired in the bureaucracy. You need an attorney to write articles of incorporation, bylaws and all that, and you also need to submit a proposal to the IRS to see if they’ll approve your nonprofit status. So I got stumped.”

Then, he found CharitySmith through an internet search. He found that the service freed him from the complex bureaucratic process, allowing him to focus on developing the memorial fund's mission. CharitySmith did everything from setting up a website with donation capabilities to preparing tax returns and providing ‘Thank you’ letters for donors.

Today, the Christopher Meadows Memorial EMS Education Fund raises more than $40,000 per year and has awarded 16 scholarships. Those scholarships have been a blessing for students who share Christopher’s dreams, and the process has also helped Meadows on a personal level.

“When you lose a child, it’s a particularly devastating loss. A lot of people don’t have a way to channel that energy in a positive direction. The ability to create this memorial was something that would keep us sane, keep us moving forward. A parent’s biggest fear in losing a child is that their child will be forgotten... this helps keep Christopher alive for us.”

So Why Not Just Use GoFundMe?

One of the most common questions people have about CharitySmith is how it differs from GoFundMe and other crowdfunding sites. The answer is that while popular crowdfunding sites may be effective for one-time fundraising efforts, CharitySmith is tailored for ongoing projects.

“A GoFundMe approach is just a crowdfunding resource, not an ongoing administrative service. CharitySmith is set up to live on into the future and continue to honor a life. For setting up a scholarship, which is the form a lot of our funds take, you need more infrastructure and involvement (for taxes, etc.) than a GoFundMe provides,” said Meadows.

Interested in starting a memorial fund? Click to learn more.

Originally published October 2015