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Registering and Gifts

Charity donations as registry alternative?

We've decided we really don't want to do a traditional registry because we're both in our late 30's and have been fortunate enough to have well-paying jobs that have allowed us to buy what we want over the years. We've now blended two very full households worth of stuff into one small city apartment and I spend half my free time trying to GET RID of things.

I come from a family that values charitable donations, and I'd really like to give people the option of making a donation in our honor instead of buying us a gift. Does anyone have any experience doing this? What's a the best, tactful, way to do it?

Re: Charity donations as registry alternative?

  • In general, this isn't really the best idea since not everyone supports the same charities. It could end up a donation is made in your name to a charity you do not support/believe in their cause or if you specify a charity, some people might be put off by your choice of charity.
  • I understand that this could be a concern for some, but I'm not worried about it in the case of our guest list - I'm confident that all of our family and friends share our values and priorities.
  • chibiyuichibiyui The Boring Part of MD member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 5 Answers
    redoryx said:

    There's really no tactful way to do that because it implies you are anticipating/expecting gifts and/or money, neither of which is required of a guest.

    Your best bet is to just tell people you aren't registered anywhere. They will take the hint and whatever money you receive you can just donate yourself.

    This.
    image



    Anniversary
  • Maggie0829Maggie0829 Ravens & Bohs & Crabs & O's member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    I understand that this could be a concern for some, but I'm not worried about it in the case of our guest list - I'm confident that all of our family and friends share our values and priorities.
    If you are so confident that your family and friends share your values and priorities then why even ask for others opinions?  And why do you need a tactful way of asking people to donate to charities of your choosing?  If they share your values and priorities then you should just out right and ask. Needing to ask in a tactful way makes it seem like you know that what you are doing may not go over so well with certain people.

    redoryxsouthernbelle0915
  • @Maggie0829 This is a good point. I suppose "tact" was not the right word to use as I'm certain that I'm not going to insult anyone on my guest list by suggesting this. I guess I'm just wondering if other people have done this, how they went about it, where they mentioned it (on the wedding website, directly w/ guests, etc). And also I know that there are charity donation websites that you can set up - anyone have any experience with these?
  • Maggie0829Maggie0829 Ravens & Bohs & Crabs & O's member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    Okay another question I have is that if all your friends and family are aware and share your values and priorities then why the need to tell them that you wish they will donate to a charity instead of getting you a gift?  If they know your charities of choice and understand your feelings on donating then wouldn't be safe to assume that they are more then able to donate without you telling them or creating a charity registry?

    But really the best thing to do is what redoryx suggested.  Just don't register and take whatever money you are given and donate it yourself.  You may be certain that your friends and family share your values but there is always a chance that they don't and prefer not to say anything to you.

    beethery
  • I suppose I feel like some people would like to make donations but that they'd appreciate a formal way to do so. And I'd also like to put it out in the open to let people know that I would appreciate a donation more than a gift (without saying that I would not appreciate a gift too, as that's rude). They may feel obliged to buy something because of traditions and I don't want them to feel that obligation. I know that when I've attended others' weddings or events I've welcomed an "out" to do something less traditional.

    I'd feel a little strange receiving cash, but this may work - I could mention in the thank you cards that the money was donated (and choose a charity that I know that particular friend or family member likes).

    And to make it clear I was not planning on suggesting any controversial options (read: anything with a political or religious slant, no matter how subtle), and based on the charities that I know my guests currently support I know that I would be happy to see money go to any of them. There are many, many good politically neutral charities out there that I think are very unlikely to offend anyone.
  • chibiyuichibiyui The Boring Part of MD member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 5 Answers

    I suppose I feel like some people would like to make donations but that they'd appreciate a formal way to do so. And I'd also like to put it out in the open to let people know that I would appreciate a donation more than a gift (without saying that I would not appreciate a gift too, as that's rude). They may feel obliged to buy something because of traditions and I don't want them to feel that obligation. I know that when I've attended others' weddings or events I've welcomed an "out" to do something less traditional.

    I'd feel a little strange receiving cash, but this may work - I could mention in the thank you cards that the money was donated (and choose a charity that I know that particular friend or family member likes).

    And to make it clear I was not planning on suggesting any controversial options (read: anything with a political or religious slant, no matter how subtle), and based on the charities that I know my guests currently support I know that I would be happy to see money go to any of them. There are many, many good politically neutral charities out there that I think are very unlikely to offend anyone.


    You might be surprised at what offends people. Offend is a strong word, but I'd be disappointed if someone made a donation to the red cross in my name.

    I think your best bet would just be to say "we're not registered because we have everything we could possibly need" don't mention it in the thank you cards. I give people 100 bucks so they can buy something they want or go out to dinner (or even pay bills, I mean, it's cash do whatever with it) but it would be a bit weird for someone to be all "I gave your money to chairty!"
    image



    Anniversary
    [Deleted User]esstee33
  • Maggie0829Maggie0829 Ravens & Bohs & Crabs & O's member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    I suppose I feel like some people would like to make donations but that they'd appreciate a formal way to do so. And I'd also like to put it out in the open to let people know that I would appreciate a donation more than a gift (without saying that I would not appreciate a gift too, as that's rude). They may feel obliged to buy something because of traditions and I don't want them to feel that obligation. I know that when I've attended others' weddings or events I've welcomed an "out" to do something less traditional.

    I'd feel a little strange receiving cash, but this may work - I could mention in the thank you cards that the money was donated (and choose a charity that I know that particular friend or family member likes).

    And to make it clear I was not planning on suggesting any controversial options (read: anything with a political or religious slant, no matter how subtle), and based on the charities that I know my guests currently support I know that I would be happy to see money go to any of them. There are many, many good politically neutral charities out there that I think are very unlikely to offend anyone.
    But just because you like to have an "out" to do something less traditional does not mean that others do.  Some people really do like taking the time and buying something that they think the couple will like and appreciate.  By stating that you would rather then donate to a charity of your choice then give you a gift could potentially hurt some people's feelings.

    And no one is obligated to buy you anything.  Just don't register.  Don't have a shower.  If people give you money then donate it to charity.  And why would receiving money feel strange?  If you and your FI decide now that whatever money you get on your wedding day you will just donate then I don't understand what there is to feel strange about.

    plainjane0415chibiyui
  • plainjane0415plainjane0415 The hills of Tennessee member
    500 Love Its 1000 Comments First Anniversary Name Dropper
    I suppose I feel like some people would like to make donations but that they'd appreciate a formal way to do so. And I'd also like to put it out in the open to let people know that I would appreciate a donation more than a gift (without saying that I would not appreciate a gift too, as that's rude). They may feel obliged to buy something because of traditions and I don't want them to feel that obligation. I know that when I've attended others' weddings or events I've welcomed an "out" to do something less traditional.

    I'd feel a little strange receiving cash, but this may work - I could mention in the thank you cards that the money was donated (and choose a charity that I know that particular friend or family member likes).

    And to make it clear I was not planning on suggesting any controversial options (read: anything with a political or religious slant, no matter how subtle), and based on the charities that I know my guests currently support I know that I would be happy to see money go to any of them. There are many, many good politically neutral charities out there that I think are very unlikely to offend anyone.
    But just because you like to have an "out" to do something less traditional does not mean that others do.  Some people really do like taking the time and buying something that they think the couple will like and appreciate.  By stating that you would rather then donate to a charity of your choice then give you a gift could potentially hurt some people's feelings.

    And no one is obligated to buy you anything.  Just don't register.  Don't have a shower.  If people give you money then donate it to charity.  And why would receiving money feel strange?  If you and your FI decide now that whatever money you get on your wedding day you will just donate then I don't understand what there is to feel strange about.


    To the bolded:  I am one of these people.  I enjoy picking out gifts (or giving money) for people because I want them to know how much they mean to me.

    I received an invitation to an anniversary party once that had on the bottom of the invitation, "in lieu of gifts, the couple requests to have cash donations made to The American Red Cross"  I was highly offended after I read that, and honestly, not trying to be snarky here, it made me feel like no matter what gift I gave them, it wouldn't be good enough for them. 

    It also, as a guest it gave me an awkward feeling of, well do I have to donate?  Will my friends judge me if I don't?  That kind of a thing.  Again, not being snarky, just thought I would share one of my experiences with this type of thing.

    image
    wrigleyville
  • Thanks for all your insights, guys. I agree with @plainjane0415 and your distaste of the phrase "in lieu of gifts..." as it puts pressure on someone who wanted to give something NOT to and undervalues a well-thought-out gift. I suppose the best action is inaction - just forgo the registry and let people decide for themselves what they want to do. I'll suggest a charity only if people directly ask (a few already have asked... which is what prompted me to start this discussion in the first place).
    Maggie0829STARMOON44hellohkb
  • plainjane0415plainjane0415 The hills of Tennessee member
    500 Love Its 1000 Comments First Anniversary Name Dropper
    Thanks for all your insights, guys. I agree with @plainjane0415 and your distaste of the phrase "in lieu of gifts..." as it puts pressure on someone who wanted to give something NOT to and undervalues a well-thought-out gift. I suppose the best action is inaction - just forgo the registry and let people decide for themselves what they want to do. I'll suggest a charity only if people directly ask (a few already have asked... which is what prompted me to start this discussion in the first place).

    That sounds like a great plan.  I would also like to add, that I like the thought behind your idea, I think it's wonderful that you support such a good thing and that many of your families do as well.   I give charitable donations, and I do support many causes and feel the need to donate.  But in regards to a wedding/party/birthday it's just a little offputting to me.  I don't know why, but it is.  It's just one of those things that I want to make a decision about and not feel pressure from someone else to do it.  I hope that makes sense.  And congrats!!!
    image
  • People always ask "where are you registered?" They'll either ask you or someone close to you, like your parents or sibling(s). Just don't register and, when asked the inevitable question, say "we aren't registered, we are saving up for XYZ". People get it and you will probably get most, if not all, cash gifts.

    Then, if you decide to donate a portion if your weddings gifts to whatever cause, go for it.
    *********************************************************************************

    image
  • Thanks for all your insights, guys. I agree with @plainjane0415 and your distaste of the phrase "in lieu of gifts..." as it puts pressure on someone who wanted to give something NOT to and undervalues a well-thought-out gift. I suppose the best action is inaction - just forgo the registry and let people decide for themselves what they want to do. I'll suggest a charity only if people directly ask (a few already have asked... which is what prompted me to start this discussion in the first place).
    I think I would still steer clear of naming a specific charity even in that instance. People who have favored charities are often unaware of potential controversy/offense that those names have attached to them. I am not aware of why the Red Cross would be a bad one and would love for PPs to let me know. I do know I would be side-eyeing any request to give to Susan G. Komen or PETA or the Salvation Army for what I would hope are obvious reasons but I still encounter people who are not aware of the wrongdoings of those organizations.
    image
    esstee33
  • I agree with the idea that you should just donate any money that you receive, that is what I plan to do as well, but since I work in non-profit fundraising I feel the need to point out one thing. 

    If someone gives you money and you turn around and give the money to charity, the original gift giver is not eligible for a tax deduction. It can probably be assumed since the money is a gift that no one will expect a receipt, but it could come up, particularly if someone gives you a large amount.
  • To me, the issue is that it makes your wedding feel like a fundraiser. And, in saying "we'd prefer donations to charity instead of gifts," its like stating you DO expect something.
    esstee33southernbelle0915
  • The only time the subject of gifts should be mentioned is if somebody else asks what you would like.

    Then, and only then, you might say, "We really have everything we need and genuinely don't want anything. If you'd like to make a contribution to a charity instead, that would truly make us happy. "

    I wouldn't find that offensive, the guest can choose the charity that they feel comfortable with, or not, and you're good. 

    I am not fond of mixing weddings with charitable fund raising of any kind. But I was raised with the strong rule that charitable giving should always be done quietly and privately. (With the exception of actual fundraisers.) When people publicly discuss their private good works, it can come across as self-important- "Look how noble and giving I am," which I'm sure isn't your intention. 

    People who know you will know better, of course, but I would not mention gifts of any kind unless directly asked. 
    MGPfwtx5815esstee33
  • My problem with this is that when I want to get a gift for a friend, I want to give a gift to a friend.  I don't want to give a gift to a charity.  I'll do that on my own.  I want to buy my friend something they'll like or can use or can pretend to like for as long as I'm around then donate to the thrift store.  I'm not going to visit them and ask to see the towels I bought them for their wedding two years ago, but I want to give THEM a gift, not their favorite cancer foundation.  Now, if I gift cash, I don't care if they paid their phone bill, bought a set of dishes, or gave money to their favorite cancer foundation, but I gave them cash so they could decide on their own how they wanted to spend my gift.
    ohannabelleMGPfwtx5815
  • LondonLisaLondonLisa London, UK member
    2500 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Anyone who gives regularly to a charity knows there is a way to donate in honour of someone else.

    Please don't register for it, that is tacky! Just don't register and when people ask say you don't need anything and do not want gifts. If you do get anything, it will most likely be cash. You can donate that yourselves.

    If you truly have everything you need, have your guests save their money! They may have the same values as you, but I already allocate my philanthropic work/money. I dislike the insinuation that I would need a friend's wedding to give to charity. 
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    10000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    I would not appreciate being told to donate to charity "in lieu of" or by way of giving someone a gift.

    If you want to donate it after I give it to you, that's certainly up to you, but it's not okay for you to decide for me what to do with what is still my money.

    Also, while I do believe in donating, I have my own ideas about what causes I choose to support, which may well not be the same as yours. My "heartfelt" causes are not necessarily the organization that sponsors research for a cure for the disease your mother died from or the animal rescue group you got your dog from or your house of worship, just as your "heartfelt" causes aren't the ones I feel passionate about. Or, there might be other reasons why I don't wish to donate.
    esstee33
  • MGPMGP member
    Knottie Warrior 500 Love Its 500 Comments Name Dropper
    edited November 2014
    No, no, a thousand times no. It is disgustingly sanctimonious. 

    Honestly the only time I am OK with the "in lieu of gifts" charitable contribution request is for a funeral. If a grieving family does not have the need or desire for more flowers I am perfectly fine with respecting that, plus if it was in the departed's will I would want to honor their final wishes.
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    10000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its 25 Answers

    The point of the registry is to give the bride and groom gifts they will need to start their marriage.   Do you need a charitable donation in your honor to begin your marriage?  The answer is no; therefore, it's not a good idea.   As a guest I would probably not donate to the charity because I feel it's not serving any real purpose for the couple.  I give registry gifts because I want to help my family/friends.  That donation is not personally helping you.  

    Actually, the point of a registry is not to give the couple "what they need to start their marriage" but to communicate indirectly what they would like to receive as gifts, whether or not they "need them to start their marriage."

    And the reasons charitable contributions aren't appropriate as gifts to third parties isn't "because the couple doesn't need them to start their marriage" but because it's up to the guests to decide whether or not to donate at all and what causes to support, and because it's not appropriate to use one's personal events as fundraisers.
  • Thanks for all your insights, guys. I agree with @plainjane0415 and your distaste of the phrase "in lieu of gifts..." as it puts pressure on someone who wanted to give something NOT to and undervalues a well-thought-out gift. I suppose the best action is inaction - just forgo the registry and let people decide for themselves what they want to do. I'll suggest a charity only if people directly ask (a few already have asked... which is what prompted me to start this discussion in the first place).

    This sounds best by far!
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