Are there "rights" with gifts in your name to charity?

Michele - posted on 11/09/2012 ( 9 moms have responded )




From Dear Margo: Most of my family members, with the exception of myself, are well to do and have successful careers and lovely homes. They are in the habit of giving donations to charities rather than actual presents on gift-giving occasions, because if any of them needs anything, they can afford to go out and buy it.

The charitable contributions are a lovely and generous practice. However, recently a family member gave money, in my name, to a charity whose conservative (pro-life, anti-LGBT) values I do not agree with. I came unglued, the stuff of real family legend. I was told I cannot dictate what “gifts” I get. But I think that if my name is to be associated with it, I should at least get to request a favorite organization. Do I, or should I, have any right to request that donations in my name not go to such organizations?


Mary - posted on 11/09/2012




I think it depends on the situation. If you believe that the family member just did it as nice gesture, and truly didn't know how strongly you felt about something (or that the group they donated to held views radically opposed to your own), I don't think it appropriate to become "unglued, the stuff of real family legend".

For example - most people who know me are aware of what a huge dog lover I am, and how passionately I feel about rescues and animal rights. If my great aunt, with only good intentions, made a donation to PETA in my name, I would feel physically ill. I detest a lot of their beliefs, policies, and practices. Most prominent on my list of objections to them is their repeated slurs against pit bulls, and support of BSL. There is one officer in particular I would like to throttle; she spoke several times in support of an Appellate court ruling in my state that called pit bulls "inherently dangerous". To say that I hate PETA would be an understatement.

However, I can see that elderly aunt, who really has no true knowledge of the organization itself, just hearing "People for the ethical treatment of animals", and assuming that this would be something I supported. Her intentions would be good in this scenario, and it would be poor form on my part to lambaste her for an honest mistake. I would thank her graciously for the gesture, and gently try to explain why, in the future, PETA would not be the best choice for me.


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Tracey - posted on 11/14/2012




You could aways return the favour by buying a gift of a toilet in a developing country and saying now people will think of him/her whenever they use it.

Sylvia - posted on 11/11/2012




If this was a passive-aggressive gesture -- donating in the recipient's name to a cause the donor knows the recipient definitely does not support -- I'd be pretty upset, too. I would also be strongly tempted to reciprocate with a donation in their name to a cause I support that they don't ;)

On the other hand ... I would honestly be SO PLEASED if my ILs would start donating to charities instead of buying us gifts we {don't need / can't use / don't like / don't have room for} that I think I almost wouldn't care which charities they picked :P

Tracey - posted on 11/11/2012




I disagree with Margo, you can request anything from anyone at anytime. They don't have to listen or do as you say but there is nothing wrong with asking.

Why wait until I am dead to see what causes I support, If you like me enough to read my obituary I assume you cared for me while alive. If you are prepared to respect my wishes and support my charity from my grave, why not when I am alive?

Michele - posted on 11/10/2012




To clarify, this one is not from me, but I thought it would be an interesting debate.

Margo's answer: What an interesting question. I feel your pain and understand your pique. Having such different values from the conservative organization that received “your” contribution would make Jesus want to drink gin from a cat dish, to swipe a phrase from Anne Lamott.

When it’s an occasion — birthday, anniversary, etc. — you can’t really request where the donation will go. The only time such direction is proper is in an obituary. What you can do, however, when you hear from this organization (and you will, because now you are on their list) is to respond with a note asking that you be removed from their mailings because you are not in agreement with their goals. That, or send the postage-paid return envelope back empty. It will make you feel better.

Personally, I would be tempted to make a gift to a charity that would be more in tune with my values. I might even give it in the other person's name, depending on what mood I was in. However, I would call and ask that my name me removed from the gift and the mailing list.

Tracey - posted on 11/10/2012




When my daughter was born many years ago a relative made a donation to an animal charity in her name and told us that it was set up so that we could continue making yearly donations and get newletters about a specific animal. Apart from wanting all creatures to live a happy, healthy life we have no interest in animal charities and did not make any donations. We received letters for several years from the charity asking us for money and they got quite aggressive when we asked them to remove us from their mailing list, infering that we were personaly sentencing animasl to a slow agonising death. The relative was also annoyed and took it as a personal insult.

The donations are a lovely idea but the doner should ask which charities a person supports. Suggest buying Birthday / Christmas cards from a preferred charity and send them to the family with a message saying this is what I support, if you are considering donations this year please send them here. I would also recommend writing to the charity and asking them to remove your details.

Lady Heather - posted on 11/09/2012




To me that would be like a punch in the stomach rather than a gift and I would be horrified at the thought of my name being attached in any way to a "charity" like that. Oh my, thank goodness there probably aren't any people that conservative who like me enough to buy me a present.

I guess they might not have known, but if they did know then it's a rude gift. You don't get someone something that you know will upset them. Well, not unless you are a total douchebag. I donate to charity for gifts sometimes and I try and match the charity to the person. Kind of the point of a gift, right?

User - posted on 11/09/2012




Really that is a very nice thing for your family to do, it is very unselfish of them and nice to send a donation to an organization for you. As your family, did they know that you are not conservative and you are not for helping them? If they knew that and did it anyway, i think thats kinda rude, the thought of it, but if they didnt know, maybe nonchalantly let them know that you are not conservative, and any future gifts wont end up the same. Of course I dont knwo them but for me I would be upset if I did something like that for another (not knowing) and they confronted me directly about the gift. Thats why I would not bring up the gift per say but at some point bring up politics and get it straight so they know for next time.

Lakota - posted on 11/09/2012




I agree with you. I would be very upset if someone in my family donated money in my name to an organization I didn't agree with. But, if your family member had no idea what your views / beliefs are, I wouldn't be mad. They didn't know. If they knew, and did it any way, I understand the ungluing.

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