I HAVE RECEIVED TWO DISTURBING MESSAGES from Clarion readers recently, both on the subject of funeral charity collections.
As a result, I intend to investigate what is, if true, a disturbing development which – at least in these two instances – have caused additional distress at an emotional time.
But to do so I need your help. Let me explain. . .
The first of my two readers – I will not identify them (nor you, if you feel able to help) emailed me out of the blue. ‘Betty’ – not her real name – wrote:
“David, do you think it is the usual practice – or even morally correct – for the church where my husband’s funeral service was held to take a half-share in the collection?
“I told the undertaker that my husband wished the proceeds of a collection to go to the British Legion in aid of other veterans and an announcement to that effect was published in the order of service.
“As a result, mourners gave very generously, so I was upset to learn later from the funeral arranger that the church had retained half of the collection and handed over the other half for the British Legion donation.
“I feel as though I have helped to deceive our friends and relatives, given that the donation pledge was there in black and white. It is almost like false advertising.”
‘Betty’ was obviously upset. Her email caused me to recall a conversation I had a month or so earlier with a man who told me that a representative of the church where the funeral service had been held had actually followed the family mourners across the road into the hotel where the post-funeral reception was being held to ask when they would be “able to divide the collection”.
To say the grieving widower was taken aback would be an understatement. He, too, had indicated in the order of service that the proceeds of a collection would go to the Macmillan Nurses who had cared for his wife.
He pointed out rather angrily that “the church, vicar, organist had all been paid what they asked and had no right to a share of the collection” which he had promised elsewhere.
I am writing to a number of churches, crematoriums and celebrants to ask what their understanding and practice is regarding ‘ownership’ of the proceeds of funeral collections which have been promised to charities.
In the meantime, please share – CONFIDENTIALLY – any examples of treatment good or bad in regard to collections taken for relatives or friends.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org with any examples, comments experiences etc. You will not be identified in any way unless you specify otherwise.
I would also welcome contributions from those connected to church organisations, particularly if you bear responsibility for collections or the church treasury.