DEAR MISS MANNERS: You have endorsed discreetly regifting, donating or returning unwanted gifts. Amen to that. However, one of the examples you provided of an unwanted gift was a donation, “in the recipient’s name,” to a charity that the recipient opposed. Obviously, such a gift cannot be regifted, donated or returned.
I doubt the charity would return the money if the recipient asked for it, although it might at least dissociate his name from the donation and refrain from sending him appeals for further donations (and from providing his name to other such charities -- by far the worst consequence of this “gift,” in my book).
The only solution I can think of -- other than confronting the giver and telling him it was a bad gift -- is to retaliate with an equal (or larger) donation, in the giver’s name, to a charity with the opposite mission and goals. Or perhaps to graciously express an intention to do so the following year.
But this seems too much like answering rudeness with rudeness. Do you have any other suggestions? Is it relevant whether the giver knows of the recipient’s objections to the charity?
GENTLE READER: The giver’s intentions are highly relevant, as there may not be any rudeness to “confront.” A gift that is not to your taste may be thoughtless without being an intentional affront.
In that case, a tepid thank-you (“Thank you for thinking of me”) is in order. If, instead, the choice of charities was meant to irk, then the tone of your thank-you letter can be decidedly different: “Thank you for thinking of me. As you know, I disagree with the goals of the charity you have selected and am therefore unable to accept your gift.”
Miss Manners urges you not to be too literal-minded about what it means to refuse a gift not in your possession. In either scenario, it would be well to call the charity and ask that your name be dissociated from the gift, as well as being removed from any lists of people they intend to dun.