How to decide on charities that honor your loved one’s legacy

  • Helping a cause that the deceased cared about can make a perfect tribute.
  • Even if they didn’t mention a charity in their will, most people have a cause they care about.
  • Ask family or friends about causes your loved one cared about.
  • If the deceased suffered from of succumbed to an illness, arranging donations to a medical charity could be a good idea.

When someone you loved passes, you cherish the memories you shared with them even more. Each culture has its own way of helping people grieve properly, and while relying on family and friends is essential in these trying times, you may also feel the desire to properly honor your loved one’s memory. We can often feel helpless when faced with death, but the drive to honor the legacy of someone no longer with us can give us a constructive way to grieve while supporting a better future. One of the best ways to do this is to support charities or causes you feel would help honor your loved one’s legacy. But how can you decide which charity would best serve this purpose? Here are a couple of things to consider when deciding on a charity to donate to in the name of a departed loved one. 

  1. Did they make a specific request?

As people reach a certain age, they tend to put their lives in order and write up a will specifying what they want done after they are gone. They may even set aside some money specifically for donations and will likely tell their friends and family what they intend it to be used for. Whether the money goes to stray animals, soup kitchens, or the environment, this is probably the clearest situation, as you can be sure that in this donation you are doing exactly what your loved one wanted to honor their legacy. 

  1. What causes did they support in life?

If your loved one’s passing was unexpected, they may not have had sufficient time to specify what kinds of donations they want made after they are gone. Regardless, it’s likely that they were passionate about some cause during their life, and what better way to ensure their legacy than to donate to that cause, or any organization related to the things they loved in life? If they enjoyed spending time in nature, why not donate to a locate nature center? Or, if their pet was the light of their life, why not give money to an animal shelter? Many places will have ways to commemorate those who have donated to their cause, such as a memorial stone, which is a great way to have your loved one remembered for what they were most passionate about during life. 

  1. What are their family’s wishes?

In some cases, the family might have a clear idea of where to donate. If an individual has not specified what cause or organization they would like to contribute to, their family might know what causes were closest to their heart. Additionally, they may be able to contribute the money toward a cause that is directly related to their family or that they all care about. For example, if the person who has passed was a veteran, it’s possible the family may want to donate to a veteran’s rights organization in their memory. 

  1. What is something that could benefit many others?

If your loved one did not leave a special request and no specific causes come to mind, try something universal. What better way to honor a loved one’s memory than ensure that they have touched as many people’s lives as possible? There are many good causes out there, and even if your loved one was not passionate about any cause in particular, surely they would appreciate their money going to good use. While donating to a religious or political organization might be a polarizing decision or endorse something your loved one may not have supported, donating to relatively universal causes such as soup kitchens, animal shelters, children’s rights groups or disaster relief funds is likely to make an impact that everyone can agree is positive. 

  1. What might help others in their situation? 

Lastly, it might be important to consider any conditions that your loved one struggled with throughout their lives or that they eventually succumbed to. Heart conditions, strokes, and cancer cause many deaths around the world and putting your money toward foundations that search for a cure or ways to help patients manage these conditions can do a lot of good. Other foundations might work towards spreading awareness or supporting prevention, as with breast cancer. Similarly, if your loved one struggled with depression or any other kind of emotional condition, donating to a relevant organization is a wonderful way to honor their memory and help others suffering from the same conditions. 

Regardless of how you decide to honor your loved one’s memory, it’s important to ensure that your donations are getting put to good use. Do some research on the foundations or charities you are considering ahead of time to find out how much of your money will go to the ultimate cause, and how much might end up used for overhead expenses or salaries. 


We all have causes during life that are special to us. Making a donation in the name of our loved ones after they are no longer with us is a perfect way to honor their memory. That way, the joy they brought to your life lives on to help others. 

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