Author Topic: Best wording I've heard for request for charitable donations in lieu of gifts  (Read 53958 times)

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gellchom

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Okay, I know that etiquette forbids ANY mention of gifts on an invitation, including "no gifts, please," and that many ehellions dislike and disapprove of asking for or giving charitable contributions.  I get it.  I'm not trying to reopen those discussions!

But it's the reality that many people do put a "no gifts, please" message on invitations, especially for birthday and anniversary parties, and double especially if the celebrants are the hosts.  Sanctioned by etiquette or not, it has become the very strong convention in my community.  So I don't think it's amiss to discuss how, if you're going to do it anyway, is the most polite way to word it.

We got an invitation to a 75th birthday party for "Muriel."  Her children and their spouses are the hosts.  At the bottom of the (casual, but mailed) invitation, it says:

"A contribution to your favorite charity in Muriel's honor is a wonderful way to commemorate her special day."

I thought that was very well done.  It is one, tiny, maybe even half-step away from mentioning gifts in such a way as to imply that they are expected.  Maybe not even a half step, just a little lean in that direction, but it seems significant to me because it feels sincere.  That sincerity is what seems to be absent in the clanking, self-serving "we're-not-really-doing-what-we-know-we-shouldn't-do" wording we have seen in things like requests for cash wedding gifts that are "just a suggestion for our guests' convenience."

But especially important is the reference to the guests' own favorite charities, not the hosts' or even Muriel's favorites. 

I plan to make a contribution to a charity that we like that I think Muriel will appreciate, too.

Aggiesque

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I still don't like it...

For example, if someone did this for a party for me, and someone said they donated to "save the purplepeopleeaters," I'd be very upset. I don't support that charity because of the way they use their funds. I'd feel upset that the person "wasted" money since the "endangered purplepeopleeater charity" is so much more efficient.

/sigh

Perhaps others are just not as picky as charities as I am?
Aggie

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QueenofAllThings

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It sounds a little bit like a requirement, KWIM? I have yet to see any way to word this (other than the standard "No gifts, please", which gets the message across).

EmmaJ.

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I love the wording.  It still leaves you with the option to bring a gift if you care to, or nothing at all.   There are no expectations from Murial.

Searcher

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Miss Manners' take on the subject, which I agree with:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/miss-manners-gifts-to-relatives-and-gifts-to-charity-shouldnt-be-linked/2011/11/17/gIQAkKrkXO_story.html

I think there is no good wording for requests for charitable donations in lieu of gifts, because gifts are supposed to be optional on the part of the giver and without direction by the recipient-not to mention that I may not agree with the causes the recipient wants me to back.  Or, I may not even want to donate.  I don't appreciate being "nudged" to do so-not even this way.

high dudgeon

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This wording is less pushy than others I've read. But it's still rude. It's still bringing up the subject of gifts to the guests, before they even have had a chance to ask. It's still going to make a lot of guests feel obligated to donate. It still conveys the expectation that guests should at least consider doing something "wonderful" to celebrate Muriel's birthday, besides simply attending the party, being good company and being happy for Muriel.

There's still no need to bring up gifts on the invite at all, even if that's common in the group.  If it's a casual friends and family gathering, the hosts have plenty of opportunities to casually reply to guests who get in touch to ask, "Should I bring a present? Do you have any suggestions for what she'd like?" Then they can whip out the "a contribution to your favorite charity in Muriel's honor is a wonderful way to commemorate her special day" wording.

Besides, if most invitations specify "no gifts please" then maybe the guests will simply assume that of this event as well, without being explicit about it?

DottyG

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I don't appreciate being "nudged" to do so-not even this way.

I agree.  Something about that wording rubs me the wrong way - actually more than just a simple "No gifts please" would.  It's just "off" for some reason and is kind of rude sounding.

veryfluffy

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"A contribution to your favorite charity in Muriel's honor is a wonderful way to commemorate her special day."

 To me what leaps out from this is that they really, really mean it: Muriel doesn't want any gifts. They aren't saying you should donate to charity. But if you absolutely must spend some money to celebrate Muriel's birthday, please give it to a charity you like anyway. I don't see any pressure -- they aren't saying it's the best way or the only way. They could add, "Another wonderful way to commemorate her special day is by buying yourself a bottle of champagne and drinking to her health."

This isn't even a request for a donation in lieu of gifts -- it is the nicest possible way of saying, "just spend your money how you like, as long as it doesn't involve Muriel getting a gift. She really doesn't want gifts."
   

Searcher

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"A contribution to your favorite charity in Muriel's honor is a wonderful way to commemorate her special day."

 To me what leaps out from this is that they really, really mean it: Muriel doesn't want any gifts. They aren't saying you should donate to charity. But if you absolutely must spend some money to celebrate Muriel's birthday, please give it to a charity you like anyway. I don't see any pressure -- they aren't saying it's the best way or the only way. They could add, "Another wonderful way to commemorate her special day is by buying yourself a bottle of champagne and drinking to her health."

This isn't even a request for a donation in lieu of gifts -- it is the nicest possible way of saying, "just spend your money how you like, as long as it doesn't involve Muriel getting a gift. She really doesn't want gifts."

It's still something that shouldn't be said at all.  Muriel does not have to keep gifts that she receives.  She can dispose of them as she sees fit.  But it's not up to her to decide that other people shouldn't be allowed to do with their resources as they see fit.

DottyG

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It's still something that shouldn't be said at all.  Muriel does not have to keep gifts that she receives.  She can dispose of them as she sees fit.  But it's not up to her to decide that other people shouldn't be allowed to do with their resources as they see fit.

This.  They're better off actually putting the "no gifts please" on the invitation than what they did.


Mikayla

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Miss Manners' take on the subject, which I agree with:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/miss-manners-gifts-to-relatives-and-gifts-to-charity-shouldnt-be-linked/2011/11/17/gIQAkKrkXO_story.html

I think there is no good wording for requests for charitable donations in lieu of gifts, because gifts are supposed to be optional on the part of the giver and without direction by the recipient-not to mention that I may not agree with the causes the recipient wants me to back.  Or, I may not even want to donate.  I don't appreciate being "nudged" to do so-not even this way.

I didn't read the link, but I definitely agree with your take on it.  And the word "nudge" is perfect for what I disliked about this wording. 

Gellchom, if you're saying it's considered the norm where you live to say "no gifts, please" then I think Muriel's family should have stuck with that.  In trying to make it sound "nicer", I don't think they succeeded.   


CrazyDaffodilLady

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I'd prefer a simple "no gifts please".  (I personally have no problem with this.)

Most charities, when you contribute in someone's honor, give you the option of sending the honoree a card to let them know.  I'd definitely feel nudged, and I'd send the card to show that I'd complied.
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lollylegs

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Miss Manners touched on why I hate charitable gifts in lieu of presents requests - in my experience, there's always been an element of 'aren't we such great people for spending your money on charity' smugness coming from the people who made the request.

While I think is wording is lovely, my problem is what someone has already mentioned - what if someone donates to a charity that Muriel doesn't like?  I agree that No gifts please probably would have been better.

CakeEater

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I'm in the minority, I guess. I don't feel even slightly 'nudged' when I read things like this. Especially as they have requested giving to your own favourite charity.

I read this request very clearly as, "Muriel really doesn't want extra clutter and doesn't need your money, but she knows some of you will want to spend money, so please go ahead and spend the money however you like, and possibly someone who needs it more will benefit."

Muriel will have no idea whether you complied or not, and obviously doesn't care which charity you give to, or if you do at all.

It's very common here for bereaved families to ask for donations to one charity or another in lieu of flowers. If I wouldn't have sent flowers, even if I attended the funeral, I feel no compulsion to donate.


Twik

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I'd prefer a simple "no gifts please".  (I personally have no problem with this.)

The problem with "no gifts, please" is that only 50% of attendees will follow it. Then they will be stuck feeling like they look cheap when the other 50% shows up laden with presents.
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