How to Choose a Memorial Donation Recipient
When a loved one dies, you may wish to make (or request) a financial donation instead of more traditional gifts like sympathy flowers, food baskets, or money to help pay for the funeral. If this is the case, the first thing you have to do is decide who will be the recipient of all these monetary contributions.
In many cases, this answer is an easy one because the deceased named a specific organization in their will or funeral pre-plans. This is common when their own money will be going to a charity or to set up a memorial fund in their name. However, not everyone has the foresight to do this, and you may be left wondering what organization should be named.
This question can be trickier than it sounds. After all, if multiple family members want to name the organization, if there were several charities/causes that the deceased was committed to during their lifetime, or if there are current events that help weigh your decision, it may take some time to come to an agreement.
Here are a few tips for making a sound decision with both your head and your heart.
- List the deceased’s values. Remember that the things that are important to you are not necessarily the things that were important to your loved one. Determine what mattered most to the deceased—whether it was education, the environment, animals, religion, etc.—and build a list from there. If you are unsure, you can always ask their closest friends for help.
- Decide on a locality. Charities can be international, national, regional, or even community-based. Decide how far you want the reach to go and select a charity that serves the area you think fits with the deceased’s vision and values.
- Choose a charity type. Large charities tend to be the most visible and easy to find, but smaller, local ones often do a lot of good right at home—and your contribution will make a much bigger difference to their budget. Decide what size charity you would like to contribute to, as well as whether you want to donate to a new one, or if you would like to find one that has a long history and is well established.
- Ask for advice. Once you determine the type of charity you want, you have to go out and find them. Online databases like GuideStar or GreatNonprofits can help, but they do not list every available option. In addition to an internet search, ask companies related to the field you have chosen. (For example, you can ask a church, non-profit hospital, or local school who helps fund them and start building a shortlist from there.)
- Do your homework. No two charities are created equally, so it is important to dig a little deeper before you give. Some have fairly high overhead, so your money goes mostly to administrative costs. Others operate on a strictly volunteer basis and can send your funds where they are needed most. Still others do not have the right paperwork and licensing to even be considered a non-profit in the first place.
- Set up your fund. Once you decide where to give the money, you can set up a fund. This can be done online at places like GoFundMe, by asking families to send in lieu of donations on their own, or by collecting donations and making a one-time contribution in the deceased’s name.