How to Make a Memorial Donation
When a friend or relative dies, it is fairly common to send money to a charitable organization in their name. Sometimes this is done at the family’s request (usually in the form of “in lieu of flowers” donations), while other times, it is entirely your own idea. By giving money to a cause that was important to the deceased or that will help save others from suffering the same disease or illness that caused their death, you can find quite a bit of closure and comfort.
Choosing an Organization
It is best to make a memorial donation to an organization that the family designates. Family members have the most insight into the deceased’s personal wishes and interests, and they most likely checked the organization’s credentials before putting out their request. They may also be working with the organization directly to fund a particular project, which means your contribution will go just where it is needed most.
When families do not choose an organization, it can be appropriate to ask if there is a charity you might donate to in the deceased’s name. However, do not make your gift out to be a priority on their to-do list; instead, mention that you would like to honor the deceased in this way and ask casually for their suggestions.
In both of these cases, make sure you identify the name and address of the deceased’s family so the organization can send an acknowledgment and thanks for the gift. Even if you make the donation anonymously, this lets the family know that they and their loved ones are not forgotten during this difficult time.
How Much to Donate
There is no rule about how much money you should send for a memorial donation, as the amount largely depends on your own finances at the time of your friend or relative’s death. A five dollar donation can be just as meaningful as a five hundred dollar donation, provided your heart is in the right place. Send only as much as you are comfortable giving. If you feel your gift is not enough, you can always ask about volunteer opportunities or other ways you can contribute.
The important thing to remember is that you should never tell the family your exact dollar amount. They may receive a lump-sum total from the organization, but individual donations are kept private so as to avoid uncomfortable situations.
When to Make a Donation
There is no time limit on philanthropy, but it is generally considered appropriate to make a memorial donation within two weeks of the funeral service. This allows the organization to collect all the donations together under the deceased’s name and also gives the family a chance to thank everyone as a collective unit.
If you want to make a donation at a future date, you may do so, but do not include the family’s name or address. It is unlikely that they will want to feel beholden to send a thank you or to continue keeping the donation option open indefinitely.