Charity Gifts and Donations
A death notice or obituary may include the expressions "in lieu
of flowers, please send donations to (charity)" or "family and
friends are making contributions to..." Though these phrases
encourage charitable gifts, they do not mean other expressions of
sympathy are not appropriate. You can choose to send flowers and
make a charitable contribution. Or, if you only want to do one,
follow the family's wishes and contribute.
If you do plan on making a donation:
- Try to give at least what you would have paid for a flower
- Make sure the charity knows the name and address of the family
so they can be notified about your contribution. (If you prefer to
contribute anonymously, advise the organization at this time.)
- When you send a check to a charity, include a note saying whom
the donation memorializes: "This donation is in loving memory of
- Make sure the organization has your address so they can send
you an acknowledgment that will serve as your tax receipt.
- If the family does not specify a cause or organization, choose
a nonprofit that might be meaningful to the family. You can mention
the contribution to the family in person or in a card without
specifying the donation amount: "We've remembered your dear John
with a contribution to the National Military Family
- Generally, cash is not sent directly to the family in place of
flowers or a charitable contribution. But there are always
exceptions if a family is in dire need. For example, if the
grieving family is having financial difficulties, a group (fellow
employees, club or lodge members, neighbors) could take up a
collection. Or you can try to give a donation through a clergy
member or another community leader to spare the family any feelings
that they are indebted to you.
How much should you spend on a charitable
According to Peggy Post, director and spokesperson for The Emily
Post® Institute, there is no
magic number that is considered appropriate. She suggests you get a
feel for what is customary in your area, consider how well you know
the family or honoree and be practical - think about your budget
when making a donation.
With all that being said, after doing some research she found
most people spent $100 or less, with the average being about $50.
If the family asked for a donation in lieu of flowers, send what
you would have spent on flowers.