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Funeral Etiquette: Donations

"In Lieu of Flowers"


When the notations "in lieu of flowers" or "contributions to...would be appreciated" appear in an obituary, you can send both flowers and a charitable contribution. If you wish to send only one expression of sympathy, however, follow the family's wishes and choose the contribution:


  • Consider giving at least what you would have spent on a flower arrangement.
  • When you make a donation include a note saying whom it memorializes. Also add it on the notation line of the check itself: "In memoriam of Rowan McGuire." Include your address in the sympathy note so the organization or family will know where to send an acknowledgement. You may want to confirm with the charity that they will notify the family of your donation.
  • If you do as the notice advises and send a contribution to "your favorite charity", choose one that might mean something to the family as well. Include the deceased family's address so the charity will know where to send the acknowledgement.
  • Ordinarily, cash isn't sent to the family in place of flowers or a charitable contribution, but exception can be made. For example, if the bereaved person is having financial difficulties, a group (fellow employees, club or lodge members, neighbors) might take up a collection or set up a scholarship fund for the deceased's children.


If you want to be sure that the bereaved knows of your contribution, it's fine to mention it in person or in your sympathy note: "We've remembered Maria with a contribution to The Benevolent Society."



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