Getting Started – Know Your Market

First and foremost, the financial feasibility of a columbarium needs to be supported by historical statistics, current population statistics and forward projections of how each community embraces cremation interment.

Knowing the market and understanding the surrounding cemetery rates of interment need to be fully understood in order to identify that the going rate of interment meets community expectations and is also moving with the cost of inflation.

No cemetery wants to operate at a loss. In addition to the annual cemetery operations budget, the “Perpetual Fund” also needs to be considered, as cemeteries adapt to more forward financial planning.

The pricing of each niche must address these financial considerations in order to effectively meet the cemetery’s future financial needs. One strategy to consider when deciding on the pricing of a columbarium niche is to divide the cost of each niche into thirds.

The first third is applied towards the payment of the initial columbarium, the second third goes towards the payment of the Perpetual Fund and the third is applied towards the purchase of the next columbarium. Eventually all future columbaria purchases will be self-financed by previous niche purchases.

Although the trend of scattering ashes outside of cemeteries exists, there are also urns sitting on mantels and in closets awaiting interment in a different commemorative space. The columbarium can provide an interment option that may appeal to this specific group of individuals.

Identifying the market need in your community is essential. Through public engagement and easy online surveys cemeteries can better understand the needs of the surrounding community and help guide a collective vision for future generations.


Columbarium History

Webster’s dictionary defines columbarium as a building with recesses for urns containing the ashes of cremated people. Columbaria can be described as mausoleums for cremains, with each cubicle being called a niche instead of a crypt.

Columbaria is the plural of the Latin word columbarium, which was originally the name for a dwelling place for doves. During the Roman persecutions, early Christians fled to the catacombs to meet and worship.

After a time, special places for burial use were set aside and blessed. Such burial chambers were called Columbarium. The name columbarium comes from the resemblance between the burial chambers and the boxes for domesticated doves.

Cemeteries are also a place for the Living

Creating an inviting landscape and beautiful setting can have a powerful impact on cemetery utilization and columbarium niche sales. Sunset Memorial & Stone has tremendous respect for the innovative architectural firms and “in house” cemetery landscape architects that create notable spaces for commemorating life and enjoyment of cemetery gardens.

Landscape architectural planning should be considered prior to purchasing a columbarium. Knowledge of foliage species relationships, site lines, visual perspective, shape, design and color is all encompassing and can directly influence columbarium appeal.

A well-designed columbarium plan anticipates future projects and plans for complimentary pieces that will enhance the existing space. Foresight and good planning are essential.

Sunset Memorial & Stone