Tuesday, April 17, 2012

In lieu of

This post might seem kind of creepy.  I am just throwing it out there for discussion.  It is something to ponder...whether you are a patient about to have an elective tonsillectomy, a cancer patient, or just someone who is planning your financial future.
While I make many small donations to my favorite causes throughout the year, I don’t have thousands of dollars to give away.  Most of you are likely in a similar situation.
When it was time to name my “beneficiaries” on my pension plan, I listed loved ones (who I would like to bestow some funds to) should I have any money left at the end of my life.  Good luck with that family and friends!!! 

There is an organization in Maine that is very important to me.  I learned that I could allocate a percentage of my retirement portfolio to go to that group.  I designated that 5%  of my funds should go to this non-profit organization.  This is a painless way for me to make a donation, that may or may not be significant after I go.
Don’t have a pension or any earnings to speak of?  You can still do some good even after you are gone.  Make sure that your family knows that when the time comes for your obituary to be put in the paper, that you want your “in lieu of flowers" donations to be made to the organization of your choice. 
The ovarian cancer support group that I ran, was sustained for several years by the generosity of some of the women who were beloved members of the group.  They felt so strongly about our group, that they told their family members that their “in lieu of” donations should be made to our support group at the time of their death. 
Not going anywhere, anytime soon???  GOOD!!!!!!!  Make your thoughts known to your family now and then forget about it!!  Or, put your intentions in with your other "final" documents if this is something that you don't relish talking about at the dinner table more than once.  
I see many well intentioned grieving families, pick The American Cancer Society simply because it is a cancer organization and the name is familiar.  That is absolutely fine if the ACS has helped you, or you think it is a great organization.   But you may have other charities that are nearer and dearer to your heart.  Perhaps you would rather see a charity you love receive these donations, or a local charity where you are certain where the funds are distributed.
Have you volunteered for Habitat for Humanity?  Request that your “in lieu of” donations go to that organization.

Do you love The Stowe Weekend of Hope?  Request that your “in lieu of” donations go there.
Love your cancer support group?  Love the food pantry that helped you out during your time of need?  Request your “in lieu of” accordingly.
One of my favorite patients was a huge advocate for animals, and she had her “in lieu of” funds donated to her favorite local  "no kill" pet shelter.
My beloved 90 year old mother will never forget the assistance that the Veterans Administration gave to my father.  She is also grateful for the assistance the NH Easter Seals gave to my grandmother when she had TB.  Well into her nineties, these were the main charities she contributed to.   One might assume that she would have wanted her donations to go to these organizations upon her death.   We had  a discussion about this topic before she passed.   I learned that her "in lieu of" choice was not those groups, but the beloved non-profit organization in Maine that is a family favorite.  
Bottom line:  pension beneficiaries or “ in lieu of” donations are a way for you to donate to your favorite group or organization, even if you don’t have the funds to do it yourself now. 

Depending on how many friends you have, the amount of the donations in your honor could sponsor a support group for a year, or pet supplies at a shelter for a year.  Perhaps the donations could provide a scholarship for 2 cancer survivors to attend The Stowe Weekend of Hope.  Charlene's Dream could provide mastectomy bras or lymphedema sleeves to help out breast cancer survivors with your donation.  A SAMFund donation might help that young adult cancer survivor pay his final tuition bill or his rent for a month.   Look at what your monetary donations could provide to Habitat for Humanity:

  • $10 = Box of Nails
  • $35 = Roof Shingles
  • $50 = Low Flow Toilet
  • $75 = Window
  • $100 = Kitchen Sink
  • $150 = Front Door
  • $500 = Siding
  • $1000 = Wallboard
  • $2000 = Flooring

  • A special shout out to my friends....when I go, you had better pony up at least $150 for a front door for someone well deserving at Habitat.  Because if I find out that all of your donations only add up to enough money for a "Low Flow Toilet", you had better believe I will absolutely find a way to haunt you from beyond!!!!!  :)


    My heart is warmed when I read the notes from the loved ones of a deceased member of our support group (notes are usually sent along with the "in lieu of" donations).  Often they mention how much that person loved our group.  I am reminded that our group made a difference in the life of that person. 

    If you can't afford to send money to that non-profit when someone passes away, consider sending them a note telling them what their organization meant to the person that passed.  Sometimes these non-profits can use this on their "testimonials" page (although I say that with the caveat that you may forever be added to their mailing list). 

    The financial contribution that you have designated in advance?  It will help sustain the organization that you love even after you are gone. 

    Just saying....it's something to think about when you are getting your "Ducks in a Row". 

    Hope this helps!


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