Gifts and pledges from Memorial Classic, Inc.; FrontRunner Professional; Service Corporation International; Walker Funeral Homes & Crematory; Legacy.com and LOCALiQ, part of Gannett Co., Inc.; ClearPoint; the Louisiana Funeral Directors Association; and Messenger, in part, have led to the 2019 expansion of the Foundation’s profession-wide Youth & Funerals Initiative and its Foundation ’45 Awards.
Brookfield, Wis. – The Funeral Service Foundation gratefully accepted more than $320,000 in major gifts and pledges in 2018, which has allowed the Foundation to further advance its mission to support funeral service in building meaningful relationships with the families and communities it serves through the expansion of its successful Youth & Funerals Initiative and Foundation ’45 Awards.
“Whether it’s a state association, an allied professional, a firm or an individual, our donors are deeply dedicated to funeral service,” said 2019 Foundation Chair Bob Arrington. “Their major gifts underscore that commitment, and allow the Foundation to serve and inspire funeral service professionals throughout their careers, and to make a measurable impact within the profession.”
The majority of the major gifts and pledges were made in support of Fund ’45, the Foundation’s annual fund, named in honor of the year the Foundation was established. Fund ’45 directly supports the Foundation’s operations, mission and vision.
Memorial Classic – $80,000
Memorial Classic, Inc.’s $80,000 contribution was the Foundation’s largest 2018 major gift, and brought the Memorial Classic’s cumulative giving total to $372,000. Founded by Johnson Consulting Group, the annual golf outing is held in memory of the profession’s finest: Bill Bischoff, Dave Hirt, Steve Mack, John Morrow, Ed Murphy, Ed Tuggle and Joe Weatherford. Partial proceeds from the tournament support Foundation’s Memorial Classic Scholarships, which are awarded annually to four students who are pursuing degrees from ABFSE-accredited programs.
“Each year Memorial Classic participants are honored to support the Memorial Classic Scholarship, which the Foundation awards to students whose character, drive and vision places them among the profession’s next generation of trailblazers,” said Tom Johnson, Johnson Consulting founder and Foundation trustee emeritus. “We look forward to watching the students follow in the footsteps of the profession’s finest, and make a difference in the lives of the families and communities they serve.”
FrontRunner – $50,000
FrontRunner Professional made a $50,000 pledge, doubling its first major gift, made in 2012. “FrontRunner continually looks for causes that work toward the betterment of our profession,” said Kevin Montroy, FrontRunner’s founder and chairman. “The Funeral Service Foundation, like FrontRunner, has deep roots in funeral service, and we are honored to continue to support the Foundation’s vision of an improved end-of-life experience for families and their loved ones.”
Service Corporation International – $50,000
Service Corporation International (SCI) made its sixth $50,000 gift in 2018. “Our profession is elevated and enriched by the Funeral Service Foundation’s initiatives, scholarships and grants,” said SCI senior vice president and CFO, and Foundation Trustee Eric Tanzberger. “SCI is honored to support the Foundation’s meaningful work, and help carry out its vision of an improved end-of-life experience for families and their loved ones.”
SCI’s 2018 support (which also includes a $10,000 gift in support of the Bow Tie Classic) places SCI among the Foundation’s top five donors, based on cumulative support.
Walker Funeral Homes & Crematory, Keith Walker – $50,000
Keith Walker, President of Walker Funeral Homes & Crematory in Toledo, Ohio, announced a $50,000 pledge during the Foundation’s donor appreciation reception, held during the NFDA International Convention & Expo in Salt Lake City, Utah, in October. Walker began his Foundation support with the Hand-in-Hand Endowment in 2005. “Mr. Walker’s Foundation support spans nearly two decades, which highlights his dedication to our profession and to the important work we do,” said Arrington.
Legacy.com & LOCALiQ – $45,000
Legacy.com and LOCALiQ together matched dollar for dollar the first $45,000 in contributions to Fund ’45 between the opening of the National Funeral Directors Association International Convention & Expo in Salt Lake City and the end of the year to help Fund ’45 reach $90,000 in support. It was the fourth year that Legacy.com sponsored a match for Funeral Service Foundation and the first year LOCALiQ, part of Gannett Co., Inc. contributed. By the end of year, the matching gift appeal drew more than $120,000 in support.
“Funeral service professionals support and care for our local communities across the country every day as families remember, celebrate and say goodbye to their loved ones. We at the LOCALiQ team are honored to be a part of supporting the future of the profession through Fund ’45 and the Funeral Service Foundation in partnership with Legacy.com,” shared Paras Maniar, President, Local, USA TODAY NETWORK Marketing Solutions.
“Our newspaper and funeral service partners have so much to gain from working more closely together. We are delighted to have been able to bring together our colleagues and friends around this campaign to double the impact for the Funeral Service Foundation,” added Stopher Bartol, CEO and founder of Legacy.com.
ClearPoint – $25,000
Longtime Foundation supporter ClearPoint Federal Bank & Trust (ClearPoint) pledged a $25,000 gift in support of Fund ’45. The pledge marked the organization’s first major gift to the Foundation. Historically, ClearPoint has supported Fund ‘45, the Foundation’s disaster relief efforts, and the annual golf classic.
“There are two key reasons we selected the Funeral Service Foundation,” said David de Gorter, ClearPoint CEO and President. “The first is our shared passion and commitment to the advancement and success of funeral service professionals. The second reason is our desire to support an organization that is creating change and having an impact.”
Louisiana Funeral Directors Association – $10,000
The Louisiana Funeral Directors Association (LFDA) donated $10,000 toward Fund ’45, which is the single largest gift made by a state association specifically dedicated to the Foundation’s annual fund. “I can’t think of a more meaningful way to give back to the death-care profession than supporting the Funeral Service Foundation. The Foundation is the charitable springboard to so many great things in our industry…academic scholarships, grants, research, resources such as Youth & Funerals and Have the Talk of a Lifetime; career development programs and scholarships like NFDA’s Professional Women’s Conference and Meet the Mentors,” said Gerard “Jerry” Schoen, III, Foundation trustee emeritus and community outreach director and funeral director with Lake Lawn Metairie Funeral Home in New Orleans, La. “LFDA considers it a privilege to assist an organization that is making so many positive things happen.”
Messenger – $10,000
For the second year in a row, Messenger gave a $10,000 donation in support of a Fund ’45 matching gift summer campaign. “The reason Messenger supports the Funeral Service Foundation and Fund ‘45 is simple,” said Bob Hoaglund, the company’s vice president of sales and marketing. “We want our profession to be the best it can be and ensure we have programs in place to educate and continually improve. This will make all of us better and impact our communities in a really positive way.”
These major gifts helped the Foundation raise more than half a million dollars in 2018, which, in part, allowed the Foundation to award grants to the National Pediatric Palliative Care Coalition, Eluna (formerly The Moyer Foundation), and the Hospice Foundation of America. Additionally, the Foundation has expanded its Youth & Funerals Initiative and its Foundation ’45 Awards.
Youth & Funerals Initiative
In 2019, the Foundation will underwrite the speaking fees for Good Grief CEO Joe Primo to speak on the Foundation’s Youth & Funerals Initiative at seven state conventions representing nine states. Primo is slated to speak at conventions in Connecticut, Illinois, Kentucky, New Jersey, New York and Ohio; Primo will also speak at Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma’s joint convention. “We had such an overwhelmingly positive response to our offer to underwrite Primo’s speaking engagements that the Board – with Primo’s enthusiastic support – has already committed to underwriting engagements into 2020,” said Arrington.
Since its February 2018 rollout, more than 300 funeral homes and other organizations across the country and around the globe have begun sharing the initiative’s tools and resources on their website and with the families and communities they serve. Those interested in learning more about the tools and resources available can visit FuneralServiceFoundation.org.
The Foundation ’45 Awards
Donor dollars have also allowed the Foundation to expand its Foundation ’45 Awards, which help make education accessible to funeral service professionals through academic and professional development scholarships and opportunities. New this year, the Foundation will offer up to 10 scholarships to licensed funeral directors to attend the NFDA International Convention & Expo in October in Chicago, Ill. Scholarships will underwrite registration fees and three nights’ lodging at a Convention host hotel. Additional details will be available in the coming weeks. “Donor support has allowed us to offer even more opportunities for funeral service professionals to grow and learn through transformative educational and professional development experiences,” said Arrington.
The Foundation ’45 Awards also include 18 academic scholarships ranging from $2,500-$5,000, which are available to students enrolled full- or part-time in ABFSE-accredited programs. In 2019, the Foundation is on track to award up to a record $55,000 in scholarship dollars. The Foundation will accept academic online scholarship applications through March 31, and again from August 15-November 1 at FuneralServiceFoundation.org.