Categorized | Social Entrepreneur

Reinventing Obituaries to Lower Costs for Grieving Families

dignified ebituariesName of Social Enterprise?

Our company is called Dignified Ebituaries.

Who is the Social Entrepreneur?

I am Kimberly Lasky and I started the company with my friend, Elizabeth Kennedy, after the tragic death of my brother-in-law in 2009.

What is your product or service?

We are an online obituary and service notification provider. For only $10.00 people can upload a photo and text and receive a link from us to post on their facebook or send to friends and family. They also receive a beautiful hardcopy certificate that can be printed and passed out within the community, at services or saved as a keepsake. We leave the post online for 60 days during which time friends and family can post comments and condolences.

Date officially launched?

We officially launched our website in November of 2009.

What came about that made them help in social change? Why was this social venture created?

When my brother-in-law passed away in February of 2009 I was thrust into the grieving process, and also the process of planning a funeral and services for the first time. My sister was devastated by the loss and together we spent hours finding the right photo and wording for her beloved Fred’s obituary. When we called our local newspaper to publish the obituary we found out that it would cost us nearly $1,000 to run it for just one day in the paper. At that point my sister had to make the difficult decision not to publish the obituary. It broke my heart to see her have to make that decision during such a difficult time for her and I decided that every person who needed to say goodbye should have the option to do so. That is where the idea for Dignified Ebituaries was born. We are founded on the idea that no one should ever have to decide between what they need to say and what they can afford to pay. Saying goodbye and memorializing a life is an important part of the grieving process for many, and too many people are not getting the opportunity strictly due to cost.

How many years and how many people has this person helped? How many people need help?

Grief affects us all at some point or another and we are never prepared for it. Providing a service that is affordable to everyone could be a great resource for every family during their grieving process.

What is the cost per person that is being helped? Are you working on decreasing that cost by being more efficient?

Dignified Ebituaries charges $10.00 per post. There are no hidden fees and this fee is strictly to cover the cost of maintaining the website. When we chose what to charge it was important to us that we not create a hardship for any family which is why our fee is so low. Not only do we charge very little, but as a company policy we give 10% of all of our profits back to charity. It is a part of our policy to be good stewards to the people we serve and the planet we live on.

Could others help you and how?

Others can help simply by spreading the word. Too many people don’t know they have an affordable option and out of grief and a feeling of obligation are paying $100’s or $1,000’s of dollars to publish traditional obituaries which in our opinion don’t offer the same services we do for a fraction of the cost.

What free online or offline tools do you use?

Dignified Ebituaries has just started to use facebook which we are hoping will be a great networking tool.

How many people are currently working, including employees (freelancers or independent contractors for specific projects)?

At this time it is just Kimberly Lasky and Elizabeth Kennedy running the company and doing the work. To keep costs low we try to do everything ourselves.

Do you tweet, facebook fan page, myspace friend or use any other social media to get the word out?


What is the best advice you never got?

I’ve been pretty blessed to have people be very supportive of everything I’ve wanted to do. I would have to say to rely on the kindness of strangers – although I’m certain someone may have said that to me before. Through this process I have learned that talking to people and telling them what we’re trying to do has been my best resource. When you’re trying to make a positive difference in other people’s lives, people want to help, they want to spread the word and so that’s really the best advice. Do good and people will want to help you toward that goal.

What is the one thing that you did right?

This idea was born from unimaginable grief – the one thing I did right was to think of my brother-in-law and what he would have wanted me to do. He would have wanted me to take the pain and turn it into something that would make other people’s grief less devastating. This was the one small thing I could do, and I think the most important part of the website is the foundation from which is was built.

What was the biggest transition you had to make (i.e. new skill set, habits, abilities, focus)?

Selling – trying to sell something is hard, you face rejection on a daily basis, but I believe in this concept and know that it’s a service people need so I’ve had to face that fear head on.

What can you tell other potential social entrepreneurs who are deciding to make a difference?

Go for it – you will never regret trying something that you believe in but you will always wonder what could have been if you don’t.

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