In Lieu of . . .

When choosing a gift of remembrance or condolence, flowers are often the first thing that to comes to mind. And while this may be appropriate in most cases, it is also important to observe the family’s wishes. 

More and more families are choosing to honor their loved one’s memory with financial gifts made to a specific charitable organization.  Most often they choose an organization related the deceased’s illness, such as the Diabetes Association, Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, Alzheimer’s Foundation, or the American Cancer Society.  Their preference will most likely be noted in the deceased’s obituary.  It will say something to the effect of, “In Lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to [insert charity name].”  Additionally, signs indicating their preference may be posted in and around the visitation room of the funeral home or church where services are being held. 

While most people are comfortable giving flowers, not everyone feels as sure of themselves when making memorial donations to charitable organizations. 

Here are a few guidelines, and points of etiquette to help you comfortably navigate “in lieu of” requests:

  • Honor the family’s wishes.  It is perfectly acceptable to give both flowers and a charitable donation.  However, if you have to choose just one, make a charitable donation to the organization of the family’s choosing.
  • When determining an amount to give, it is customary to make donations equal to or above what would have otherwise been spent on flowers.  
  • Make donations in a timely fashion.  A good rule of thumb is within 10 days of the funeral. 
  • Be sure to provie complete information when making your donation.  This should include: Your name (as the giver), address, deceased’s name (in memory of), family or next of kin name and address, payment method, and an optional personal message, if you so wish. 


Donation from:           Joe and Sandy Smith
                                        1316 Meadow Lane
                                       Anytown, WI  53188
In Memory of:              John Doe
Notification to:            Jane Doe and Family
                                       66 Crystal court
                                       Mytown, WI  53202
Payment Method:       If paying by check, be sure to note in the memo section “In memory of ______”
                                       If paying by credit card, accurately note your card number and expiration date. 
                                       (some organizations may also require the CVV # – the three digit number on the back of your card)
Personal Messag:       With Love and Deepest Sympathy from the Smiths


Also, if you are giving the family a sympathy card, it is perfectly acceptable to mention your donation.  A good way to relay that information is to state, “Our family remembered [insert deceased’s name here] by making a contribution to the [insert charity name here].”   There is no need to include the dollar amount of your donation. 

Remember, when flowers are not the preferred choice, knowing how to comfortably make donations of remembrance can make a difficult time a bit easier.

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