(Time to read this section is 3 minutes) ŠKenneth C. Lambert, 2003

Most families do not want charity,

 they just need a fair deal and to know all their options.

Is your charity lining the funeral provider's pockets?

Funeral Providers  versus Ken Lambert

Funeral homes are professionals at helping families raise money and finding ways for families to afford nice funerals.

Ken Lambert is an expert at helping families negotiate a fair price so they do not have to use charity or go into debt to pay for the funeral of a loved one.

What is the better choice? 

A.  Helping families with the cost of the funeral from your charity's resources?

B.  Helping the families negotiate the funeral to a reasonable level so they don't need charity or excessive debt?

Most families do not want charity. The charity sales close is a ruthless technique to get families to spend more money on the funeral.  Most families will never admit that they cannot afford the expensive funeral.  They will spend money they do not have to get a nice funeral.  Most of the time, if they simply knew how to negotiate, they would get a nicer funeral for less money, often at the same establishments.  

Example 1:  A family gets a $500 charitable contribution from your organization to help with funeral expenses. They get another $250 from another organization. The third organization tells them to call Ken Lambert.  Ken Lambert negotiated the price of the funeral to less than half the original price, saving the family over $2000. The family had enough money to pay for the funeral and got a better funeral than the original package.

Had the first charitable organization told the family to call Ken Lambert first, the family would have probably not needed the money nor would they have called the other charities.  If the family was really destitute and still needed to call, the money would have been well spent. And if they could not come up with approximately $300, the County has a program to help. 

Example 2: The family learns that a benevolence will be picking up the tab on the funeral, whether it is an employer, a friend, or a charity.  Now the family's desires are greater, usually with the assistance of the funeral provider.  Happens all the time. The funeral ends up costing more than it should have if it had been negotiated.

Charities should be good stewards of the resources entrusted to them. 

Note - If your charity is rated by how much money it gives away, funeral providers will be lining up at your door.  But a good steward of the resources, will make them fight and justify every dollar needed. And acceptable alternatives should always be explored.

Caution:  Be careful of funeral providers agreeing to pay for the funeral in full. Many are legitimate. But with many church charities, payback is expected.  The funeral for this family may be provided at no charge, but it is a lot more difficult to negotiate for another family when the provider did a free funeral.

Many funeral providers do infant funerals at no charge.  It really is a marketing game.  If you get the babies, you get the rest of the family.  And once they do the free funerals, it is very awkward to play hardball when negotiating for another family.  Infant funerals are very inexpensive to do.  But the payback is astronomical.

Be very careful of an appearance of conflict of interest.  Was there a conflict in this situation?

Ken Lambert helped a man when his wife passed away.  He had already been shopping and priced several funerals.  Ken still managed to save him over $2400 on the funeral.  Later, he was accompanying a church counselor to visit a new widow who had just lost her husband with a heart attack.  The counselor recommended the local funeral home.  Ken's former client pulled out Ken Lambert's card and said you need to call this guy.  Immediately the counselor interrupted and said, "No, you need to call XXXXXX Funeral Home.  They have helped many people in our church and they bury our babies for free."  The lady took the counselor's advice. Ken's former client called Ken and said that Ken needed to contact her before she makes a mistake. Ken refused because he never initiates contact with families.  "If she doesn't call, there is nothing I can do."

But six hours later the lady did call, and Ken saved her $4,600.

Did the counselor have a conflict of interest?  Whether he did or not, it sure appears that he did. 

Ken's advice?  Negotiate all funerals.  Your charities will come out ahead in the long run.  Families are often the pawn in this game. And too often, the pawns are unwittingly used by the funeral industry to get to everyone's wallet.

ŠKenneth C. Lambert, 2003

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