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.