DEAR AMY: Today I received an email from my 28-year-old nephew, a young man I like very much. "Thomas" recently married his longtime boyfriend. I attended the wedding, gave a generous gift and received a lovely thank-you note. The email outlined Tom's participation in an excursion to two gay-unfriendly countries. Tom explained why he felt this was important and said that more funding is needed so that the entire delegation can attend. He included a link to his individual fundraising site for anyone who wished to contribute. Although I support gay rights, this trip seems like a bit of a junket. Even if it is not, I am surprised that he is making plans to take a trip that he can't afford on his own. He is a married man and I think he and his husband should be self-supporting. I have similar feelings about a friend who asked me to fund a weekend trip so she could participate in a charity walk-a-thon. Do I have any responsibility (or right) to tell these people why I don't want to contribute? How would "I wish you the best of luck with your plans" seem -- without contributing? I don't want to seem either sarcastic or cheap. Should I ignore the requests (I also don't want to seem rude).
DEAR SUPPORTIVE: Crowdfunding has become very popular, as people turn to the accumulated bounty and generosity of the crowd to pay for everything from surgery to band instruments.
Your nephew has likely sent this request to his entire circle of family and friends. There is no requirement to contribute.
There is no crime in asking for something. Younger people find it easy to ask. Being asked does not create a contract between you; it doesn't require an affirmative response or an explanation about why you won't fund the request. It's fine not to contribute but to respond, "Sounds cool -- I hope you have a good trip." You certainly have the "right" to react negatively, but this is one of those times when if you don't have anything positive to say, you should stay silent.
If your nephew takes umbrage to your choice, then by all means push back.
DEAR AMY: Please update us on current customs, etiquette and hospitality. My husband and I have a younger friend, "Laura." She is a psychologist in private practice and a yoga instructor on the weekends. When she had her 35th birthday at a local bar/party room she told everyone to "order lots of food and drink." We had a can of Sprite and a small bag of potato chips and left early. The next day Laura asked why we left without paying for our refreshments and share of the room rent. For her 37th birthday, she solicited donations to pay off her student loan. At her 39th birthday party, she had a "smile table" for guests to pay for her dental work (I skipped parties on other years). Now we are invited to her "wedding." She was married last year. They are having a reception with "light snacks" on their first anniversary. On the invitation they requested contributions for fertility testing and an IVF procedure. My husband and I like to help others. We have willingly given Laura thousands of dollars over the years. I'm a retired nurse and volunteer many hours caring for homeless people. Should we start saving for their eventual down payment on a house?
Bewildered in Seattle
DEAR BEWILDERED: Laura wants others to finance her life. If you choose to celebrate this marriage, you could give a gift to the homeless charity of your choice in her name and call it a day. This is not an etiquette question -- this is more about avoiding a fleecing.
DEAR AMY: My advice to "Curious" is to leave her poor birth mother in peace. After 40 years, for her to contact half-siblings against everyone's wishes will do nothing but expose her mother's secret. What will be the effect on her life if this happens? When does desire for truth become malicious stalking?
DEAR UPSET: Exactly. I hope "Curious" carefully considers the possible negative impact of her choice on others.