Columbarium – Part 3: How to Pay for a Columbarium

Here are two ways to build and fund a columbarium that I used.

  • The columbarium was built in phases due to the construction costs. Phase I cost $60,000. The pastor asked three families to each give $20,000 in exchange for a tax-deductible contribution and a double niche. All three families gave the money and we built it a few months later. As people purchased niches, that money would pay for the next phase until all phases were constructed. Sales from the sales phase would then become the source of the perpetual maintenance fund.
  • The columbarium was built all at once for a cost of $225,000. Solicited donations and sales of niches generated about $75,000 initially. The church was fortunate to have over $150,000 of reserves. In lieu of borrowing money from a bank, the church loaned itself the money and then as niches were purchased, the loan declined. At some point, the loan was paid off and then all subsequent money was used for the perpetual maintenance fund.

In all cases, handling the money for a columbarium requires careful record-keeping to ensure you know which niches or plots have been sold to whom. You need to keep copies of the agreement you have with each family, know where their money has been placed, and then have easy access to it when the time comes to inurn or inter a loved one for any expenses (engraving, buying urns, etc.).

Lead On!

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