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Charitable Donations at a Funeral

Advice for funeral planners

Charitable donations are a great alternative for families who don't want to receive a lot of flowers, and are particularly appropriate when the deceased has suffered from a specific illness or disability. For funeral planners who are unsure of what charity might be suitable to commemorate the memory of a loved one, there are a couple of online lists available. A full list of American charities is available at www.charities.org. For a full list of Canadian charities, check www.canadian-charities.com.

Charitable Donations and Religious Tradition

In some religions more than others, it's an accepted practice to make charitable donations. Whether or not donations are welcome may relate to religious views about flowers and sympathy. The practice of giving to charity is more common in the Jewish and Christian religions than in others such as Hindu and Islam. In Islam it's customary to help the family pay for funeral expenses.

If you're unfamiliar with the religion of the deceased or you're not sure how your expressions of sympathy will be received, you should ask a family member directly. If this isn't possible, you can look up most traditions online. You have to remember that even if the deceased was not an overtly religious person, they may have a traditional funeral for their family.

Donating to Charity at a Funeral

If the obituary invites you to donate to a charity, you can do this in a number of ways. If the obituary isn't clear on how to do this, you may contact the funeral home and find out how to donate to the intended charity.

If you want to make a donation on your own, you can call the funeral home to have a card put out in your name, then make the donation personally. You can do so by mailing a check to the charity, donating directly or by paying through your bank. The funeral home may also have pre-printed envelopes that you can simply send with a check to the charity.

In some cases, the funeral home may provide for the collection of donations (accepting nothing but checks), which they then forward to the charity.

If the obituary instructs you to make a charitable donation in lieu of flowers or other memorials, you can still send flowers as a thoughtful contribution, while also making a charitable donation.
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