You may have heard of it, but wasn't quite sure what it was. A funeral/memorial society is a cooperative, nonprofit consumer organization that helps their members to achieve simplicity, dignity and and economic funeral arrangement through advanced planning. This organization is not run by funeral directors.
The societies do not ordinarily offer funeral services. Their main role is advisory however a number of them do contract with funeral directors on behalf of their members. They assist their members to get exactly the services they want for a reasonable cost. In most societies, unpaid volunteers do this work with a few larger ones, who may have paid secretaries.
Funeral/memorial societies do collectively what few individuals or families are prepared to do: They inquire around, compare services and prices, then share the information with their members. They do not collect payment for funeral services.
There are approximately 200 memorial societies in the United States and Canada, with a combined membership of about half a million. Most charge a one time member fee between $10-$30. A few may also have a small annual fee in addition to the one time membership fee. Membership is transferrable, which is a nice benefit.
The organization located within the U.S. is:
Funeral and Memorial Societies of America, Inc. (FAMSA)
P.O. Box 10
Hinesburg, VT 05461-0010
You can join FAMSA or the nearest society near you; and if there is not one near you, you may consider organizing one, by purchasing a copy of a Handbook for Funeral and Memorial Societies available at the address provided above. Members of a society generally save between 50-75 percent in funeral costs, while getting exactly what they want in accordance with religious beliefs and personal preferences.
If you want to locate a funeral or memorial society near you, try searching online for one with your state. Depending on the state you live in, will often determine how many societies are active in your area. You can also order or contact the FAMSA for a pamphlet for a memorial society directory.
It is a good idea to investigate a society before a death occurs and not while in the midst of funeral planning. So you may want to do so today to get an idea of one near you and how they can help you when you are in a position of a loss.