What is the standard donation for a minister who performs a memorial service?

A fellow caregiver asked...

What is the standard donation for a Lutheran minister doing a small memorial service in their small chapel? I was told there is "no fee but will accept a donation". There will only be a small amount of people and an urn from the cremation. We live on Long Island , NY if that makes a difference. Thank you.

Expert Answer

Rebekah Peoples, CFSP, CPC, Is a licensed funeral director and embalmer. She is passionate about serving others and believes that giving clients honest, accurate information empowers them to create tributes and services that are meaningful and appropriate.

Thank you for telling me your area. Like most services, the price can be quite different depending where you live. In your area, the current fee ranges between $200 and $250.

Here are a few things to consider. If the service is going to be the usual pre-written one that is done for anyone who calls, the low end of that range may be acceptable.

Usually, however when you're told that there is "no fee but a donation is acceptable," it's because the person or some family member is a member of the church and the minister has some knowledge of the person. Even if that's not the case, some ministers will still provide a personalized message by talking to family members to get stories and information about the deceased. You may also be able to choose the songs and readings, and even include one or more family members to speak and share memories. To many people, that difference means a lot to them and they will pay toward the upper end of the range.

When they say that any donation is acceptable, do what you and your family feel is best. I've seen services in which the family members were very pleased and also unfortunately ones in which they were sadly disappointed. You may want to just carry a blank check with you and decide how much to write in after the service.

Whatever you decide, be sure that the service reflects what will be comforting and uniquely meaningful to you and your family. This is a one-time event and should be appropriately memorable.