When someone we care about dies, beyond the pain and loss, we often feel a tremendous weight from our inability to do anything about it. Being permanent and inevitable, death can feel hopeless.
Every culture has developed customs to channel that grief and pain, from the funeral itself to the sending of flowers, creations of memorials and donations in the loved one’s name. It is all built on the simple fact that we’re at a loss with respect to what we can do.
Donating to charity is an admirable way to honor the person we loved while helping others in the process. Let’s look at some of the unique aspects of a charitable gift in a loved one’s honor.
1. Fulfill the Loved One’s Request
Often, an individual who knows the end is near will request that they be memorialized with donations in their name to a particular organization that is dear to them. This is a great way to honor them, keep their memory alive and also help a cause they believed in. Children, pets, the environment — regardless of the cause, you can make saving a little slice of the world part of their legacy.
2. Fulfill the Family’s Request
Not everyone has the opportunity to designate in advance how they would like to be remembered with a charitable contribution, but it’s likely that their family knows what was close to their heart. If you’re interested in making a charitable donation in their name, it’s a good idea to follow their directions of the family.
3. Consider What You Know About the Person
Absent any explicit instructions from the dearly departed or their family, consider contributing to a charity that you know addressed an issue they cared about. Maybe they were dedicated to their church, or a women’s group, or the garden club; perhaps they were an avid outdoors person, or passionate supporter of veterans. Taking what you know about them and transforming that into a contribution in their name demonstrates that you care about their wishes. Even if the particular organization you donate to wasn’t one of their favorites, the family will appreciate the thought.
4. Find Something Universal
While people have differing opinions about almost everything in America today, there are certainly some charitable organizations that are above the fray. Your local food pantry, an organization that helps children in need, and a disaster relief effort are all charities basically everyone can support. If the family hasn’t indicated a preference, and you don’t know the person well enough, choose something like those for your remembrance. Donating to your house of worship, a political organization or any issue advocacy group that has a rival may be inviting controversy that you didn’t intend.
5. Support Research into Their Disease or Cause of Death
Families appreciate when those sending condolences support efforts to fight the illness that took them away. Organizations supporting research and providing service to people with cancer, heart disease, strokes and so on raise a lot of their funds from memorial contributions. Often, there may be more than one in existence. A good rule of thumb is to check the one the ranking of the one you’re considering to see how much of your donation actually ends up being used for research versus other expenses like overhead or employee salaries. Charity Navigator offers tips to help guide donors in making wise decisions.
Remembering someone who has died with a charitable donation allows the family to be made aware of your heartwarming gift. Determine if the receiving organization has a process for notifying families, and if it doesn’t, be sure to communicate that gift to them.
Stuhr Funeral Home, a trusted name in funeral service for more than 150 years, is committed to providing quality arrangements to honor loved ones and family traditions. For more information about funeral services available, visit jhenrystuhr.com or call (843) 723-2524.