Etiquette for a Memorial Donation

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A relative, friend or associate has passed away and the family has requested a memorial donation. Be it monetary funds to assist with the funeral expenses or a request to help a charity in the deceased's honour, apply etiquette to assist with making a donation. You can't change the fact that death affects everyone.

However, you can show honour to the deceased and his family by displaying social manners.


An obituary is a public listing of the deceased's life and death. Most obituaries include the birth and death date of the deceased, as well as a list of survivors, hobbies and things the deceased liked to do. Some obituaries list a cause of death, while others comment on illnesses suffered by the deceased, such as cancer, heart disease or diabetes. The obituary also gives detailed funeral or memorial information and possibly recommend places for mourners to donate memorials. It is not unusual for survivors to request that memorial donations be given to the funeral home to help defray funeral expenses.

Give to the Funeral Home

There are a couple of ways to give donations in the deceased's memory to the funeral home, as requested in an obituary. You can take cash to the funeral home, tell them who the money is for and most importantly, receive a receipt as verification of your donation. Another more prudent method is to send a check to the funeral home. Write the name of the deceased on the subject line so the funeral home knows where to apply the donation. Reputable funeral homes keep lists of donations and donors and give them to the deceased's family so they know who to thank for the donation. It is acceptable to send a card to the family mentioning the donation, but do not include the dollar amount.

Give to Charity

It is acceptable to request "in lieu of flowers" for memorial donations to be given to a charity. Give to any non-profit charity only when no charity has been listed. Charities have made it simple to donate. Most have websites with links to pages where you enter your credit card information, the deceased's name and a note that can be sent to the family of the deceased. In turn, when the family receives the note from the charity, they should send a thank you note to recognised the donation.

Memorial Donation Thank You Notes

Within two to three months after the funeral or memorial, send thank you notes to those who gave memorial donations. One person writes the thank you note on behalf of the deceased's family. Acknowledge the donation in the note, include a short personal message of appreciation and if possible comment on the relationship between the donor and the deceased. For example, you could write, "John thought highly of you," or, "Susan fondly remembered the summer trip the two of you took to the ocean." Sign the note, "With Warm Regards," or, "With Appreciation."