What Is the Proper Etiquette for Paying a Pastor for a Funeral?

by April Sanders
Thank your pastor with a monetary gift.

Thank your pastor with a monetary gift.

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Pastor services for a funeral range from delivering a brief, graveside prayer to leading and directing the entire funeral. Such duties are considered part of the pastor's job, especially if the funeral is held at the pastor's home church. Therefore, many pastors will not charge a specific fee for services rendered at a funeral. Etiquette dictates, however, that the pastor is given a small monetary gift, called an honorarium, for his time and effort.


The proper amount for an honorarium varies depending on the resources of the family and the services rendered by the pastor. In general, a gift between $175.00 and $250.00 is recommended, according to the Connelly-McKinley funeral home. Often, the funeral home director manages the delivery of the honorarium, so you can ask him what the average amount is if you are unsure.


Give the honorarium to the pastor before the service. This is suggested because the family and pastor are usually too busy after the service to take care of this detail. You can hand it to him personally, have a friend deliver it to him or ask the funeral director to take care of it. If you forget to give the pastor the honorarium before the service, do it as soon as possible after the service.


Place the honorarium in a sealed envelope with the pastor's name on the front. Use cash or a check made out in the pastor's name. Do not leave the envelope on his desk or with a church secretary, as you won't know when he will receive it or even if he did receive it. Deliver it personally if possible.


Always follow up on the honorarium with a hand-written thank you note. Send the note within two weeks following the funeral. Thank the pastor for his services, and be as specific as possible. Sign the note on behalf of the family of the deceased. It is equally acceptable to place the thank you note in an envelope with the honorarium, or to keep the thank you acknowledgement separate from the monetary gift.

About the Author

April Sanders has been a professional writer since 1998. She has worked as an educator abroad and in the United States, and now writes academic research content, curriculum and assessment materials for several major educational publishers, including EBSCOhost, Compass Publishing, WestEd, Young Minds Inspired, SmarterBalanced and others. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Social Psychology from the University of Washington, a master's degree in information sciences and educational technology from Mansfield University, and is certified to teach in Oregon and Washington.

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