Author Topic: Appropriate In Memoriam Donation Amount?  (Read 654 times)

maizefolk

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Appropriate In Memoriam Donation Amount?
« on: December 13, 2019, 04:13:31 PM »
A colleague at work (a university) passed away a time ago. The department discussed and thought it would be a fitting way to remember this person to donate some money to our university foundation to created either an endowed lecture or a partial student fellowship. Info on who donates and how much gets sent to my colleague's spouse who also works in the same department.

I think that's very reasonable thing and I am happy to participate. I already hit my FI number I'm not trying to figure out the smallest donation, just get a sense of what is reasonable. However, I have absolutely zero idea what a reasonable donation is. Tried to sound people out about either what our target to raise is ("we'll see what happens") or, in one case with someone I have a more comfortable relationship with, specifically what would be a reasonable about to donate might be ("don't worry about giving too little, or too much").

I'm don't want to make a social faux pas, and it seems like overshooting or undershooting would come across as weird, and I'm at my wits end how to figure this out.

Additional context:
-There are about 20-30 people in this academic unit.
-People's salaries probably range from about $70k-$200k/year.

ixtap

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Re: Appropriate In Memoriam Donation Amount?
« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2019, 04:38:22 PM »
If you are trying to create a scholarship, your university gifting/fundraising/endowment department probably has rules on the minimum endowment. Someone should approach that team to see what the options are. You do not want to just collect funds to hold within the department without proper accounting! The last place I worked, the minimum was $25,000, which was meant to fund a $1000 scholarship. We raised money for a year or so, then one of the better off professors made up the remainder so that we could get the scholarship going.

If the number they give you seems outrageous, do you have another departmental scholarship that you could increase the endowment, and thus the amount given out?

Once the process is formalized, you may also end up raising funds outside of your immediate department if they worked with any committees or interdisciplinary programs. We even had students giving token amounts.



fell-like-rain

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Re: Appropriate In Memoriam Donation Amount?
« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2019, 04:53:20 PM »
Iím not familiar with academic social norms or the specifics of endowments, so take this with a grain of salt. If I was making 70k and was asked to donate to a fund like this, my gut feeling would be in the mid-low three figures, say $250 to $400.  $100 feels a little scanty, anything over $500 would feel like going above and beyond. Once youíre nearing 1% of gross salary, thatís getting to where youíd feel the pinch. On the top end, I feel like someone making 200k could give $1000 to $1500.

So, if you had 25 people, letís say the average gift is $700, thatís $17,500. Feels like a hefty chunk of money, but as the other poster mentioned, if youíre only taking 3-4% a year, thatís $5-600 ish. Thatíd definitely make a difference to your typical student, but it does seem like small potatoes for the university to administrate.

maizefolk

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Re: Appropriate In Memoriam Donation Amount?
« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2019, 05:02:53 PM »
Thanks folks!

One piece of additional information, I remember the person organizing this had already talked to the university foundation and was advised to run the money through an existing foundation account (with an in memoriam notation on donations to track those intended for this purpose) the department controls.

That seems a weird/nonoptimal for me, but I'm not the one responsible for tracking different sets of money in a pooled account. It probably also suggests that the department isn't expecting to raise THAT much money (maybe less than $25k?), which is really useful in trying to calibrate a reasonable donation amount, as is fell-like-rain's rule of thumb that nearing 1% of gross salary is a point where people usually tend to feel pinched.

maizefolk

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Re: Appropriate In Memoriam Donation Amount?
« Reply #4 on: December 13, 2019, 05:08:07 PM »
For reference my based on nothing guess was to targeting about $2,000 and was still worried this might be perceived as low.

Maybe this means I'm officially an out of touch (slightly) rich person.

ixtap

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Re: Appropriate In Memoriam Donation Amount?
« Reply #5 on: December 13, 2019, 05:15:52 PM »
For reference my based on nothing guess was to targeting about $2,000 and was still worried this might be perceived as low.

Maybe this means I'm officially an out of touch (slightly) rich person.

Without an actual goal, I doubt many will give much more than that unless they really adored the person.

G-dog

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Re: Appropriate In Memoriam Donation Amount?
« Reply #6 on: December 13, 2019, 07:24:48 PM »
I was thinking $1000.  I have given that much to one charity at a time.  But that is honestly just a guess.