Major gifts from Service Corporation International, The Baue Family, Ernie Hagel, an anonymous donor, and the Foundation’s cremation recycling initiative helped the Foundation reach a record $1.36 million in contributions in 2020.
In a year when funeral service professionals faced challenging and uncertain obstacles in their call to serve families and communities, they also answered the call to give. The Funeral Service Foundation gratefully accepted $714,000 in year-end major gifts bringing the Foundation’s 2020 fundraising total to a record $1.36 million.
“We are grateful for the trust and confidence our donors place in us to carry out the Foundation’s mission of investing in people and programs to strengthen funeral service and lift up grieving communities,” said Lee Wiensch, CFRE, executive director of the Funeral Service Foundation. “This remarkable end-of-year donor generosity expands our capacity to serve funeral service through scholarships, community resources and grants.”
Generous donors in 2020 helped fund academic and professional development scholarships and opportunities for more than 500 funeral service professionals and students; award grants to 31 grief- or education-focused organizations; send volunteer relief and PPE supplies to areas affected by COVID-19; support continuing education opportunities to five state associations; and create grief and self-care resources for communities and funeral service professionals.
Anonymous Donor – $50,000
An anonymous donor made a $50,000 gift in memory of John M. Busch (June 2, 1932 – February 23, 2020). A third-generation funeral director and former owner of Busch Funeral and Crematory Services in Cleveland, Ohio, Busch worked with the funeral home until his death, and is remembered fondly by those he served. He was the proud father of James Busch and J. Mark Busch, who have carried on the family business and legacy with the same care and personal service for which their father was known.
Service Corporation International – $50,000
Service Corporation International (SCI) extended its significant legacy of giving in 2020 with a $50,000 gift for the eighth consecutive year. “The Foundation uses its resources to thoughtfully invest in the initiatives, education and grants that elevate our profession,” said SCI Senior Vice President and CFO, and Foundation trustee, Eric Tanzberger. “SCI is proud to support the Foundation’s work because when the profession is strong, our communities are strong.”
Additionally, SCI served as a $10,000 Virtual Golf Classic Presenting Sponsor and made significant contributions to the Foundation via cremation recycling proceeds.
The Baue Family – $25,000
The Baue Family contributed $25,000 at the end of 2020. The gift bookends a noteworthy year of generosity, which began with $15,000 gift made in support of the Foundation’s COVID-19 Crisis Response Fund, and a $3,000 contribution to the Virtual Golf Classic.
“The Foundation’s mission is interlaced in my family’s legacy in same way it’s woven into the fabric of our profession,” said Lisa Baue, former president and CEO of Baue Funeral Homes in St. Charles, Missouri, and newly elected Foundation trustee. “Our gift underscores our shared belief that access to education and professional resources fuels fulfilling careers and builds thriving communities.”
Ernie Hagel – $25,000
Hagel, former president and owner of McInnis & Holloway Funeral Homes in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, made his second $25,000 contribution to the Funeral Service Foundation. He was the first-ever Canadian firm owner to contribute a major gift to the Foundation with his initial $25,000 gift in 2019.
“I firmly believe that a lot of the success of McInnis & Holloway comes from what I learned over the years by being part of NFDA,” said Hagel, who attended the association’s annual International Convention & Expo for more than 30 years. “Every year we came home from the convention with new ideas and products on how to improve our business. Supporting Foundation scholarships means that funeral directors across North America will have the same opportunity for success.”
Additional major gifts and pledges were gratefully accepted throughout the year: Carriage Services, Inc. and Homesteaders Life Company each pledged $100,000; Argent Trust Company and NFDA pledged $50,000; Global Atlantic Financial Group and Memorial Classic, Inc. contributed $30,000 gifts; Legacy.com and Matthews International made $22,500 and $20,000 contributions respectively; Consolidated Funeral Services, The Dodge Company, and The McComb Family Foundation each made $12,500 gifts; and Terrybear Urns & Memorials contributed $10,000.
The Foundation’s Cremation Recycling Initiative – $564,000
Cremation recycling proceeds to the Foundation accounted for more than half a million dollars of support in 2020. “We’re grateful to the firms and organizations that give back to the profession while addressing ethical considerations, and to the recycling companies who continue to support this initiative,” said Wiensch. The Foundation plans to expand the giving initiative in 2021.