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John Daly: How to Say ‘No’ to Donation Requests

If you work in an office, are a parent or just plain have friends, you’ve most often been tapped to “donate to a worthy cause.” Not once, or twice, but multiple times on a regular basis. I don’t know about you, but I literally cringe when I have to disappoint someone who asks for my help.

First of all, I am in no way suggesting that you should not give to charity. We all should give when we can to support others. But the operative words are “when we can.” And, if you are like me, when “we can’t” because money is tight or you just aren’t inclined to do so, you feel terrible. You may not always know what to say in those situations.

Because I never like to let anyone down, I read with interest Julie Blais Comeau’s recent article, “Sticky Situations: Saying No to Charity,” in The Huffington Post Canada. She offered the following guidelines that I felt were helpful.

» In times like this, and actually at all times, you should respect yourself and be true to your budget foremost. Set your own limits. Make them annual, seasonal, or monthly, as you wish.

» Define your charitable objectives and have a clear set of giving rules. Pick a charity of choice or make a prioritized list of favorites. This way, when you allocate within your budget, you will have a personal code of giving for the causes that you identify and empathize with. Should your financial situation change, you will be able to refer back to your objectives and adjust accordingly.

» Remember, it is always appropriate to say that you have an annual charity budget and that you have already allocated it to your charity of choice. Businesses do this all the time. Use the same principle for your donations.

» You may add that you would be happy to consider them next year. If you so wish, you may even want to ask to be reminded in advance.

» You can always offer to contribute your talents and your time, in lieu of money.

» Honesty also works. When, and if you ever choose to go that route, in the case of a charity that you had supported for many years and simply cannot afford to or do not wish to donate this year, simply say: “I really believe in your cause and was always proud to support it. Unfortunately, this year I will have to decline but, I do hope to continue to support it next year.”

» Don’ feel guilty. Philanthropic giving is a personal choice, so no guilt should be associated when declining to give.

In addition, if you find that you are being asked at work to the point that you are beginning to feel uncomfortable, and you are going through tough times financially, Comeau suggests you speak to HR and inform them privately of your situation. They may be aware of similar situations within your team and may, as a result, implement a “No solicitation at work” policy.

Remember, you do have a choice to give, to go to a fundraiser or to participate, or not. Just because you are asked does not mean you must say yes. HOWEVER, if you are invited to a fundraiser or an event of any kind that sends an RSVP and you can’t or do not wish to attend, don’t just throw the invite in the trash. RESPOND! Please do not display bad behavior just because you do not want to attend.

The point of these suggestions is to set up honest objectives to accommodate charitable giving while supporting the causes closest to your heart. In that way, you can continue to help others and not feel badly about not being able to always support everyone.

The Art of Saying ‘No’ in Other Situations

(John Demartini video)

John Daly is the founder and president of The Key Class, the go-to guide for job search success. Click here to learn more about The Key Class or to get his book. If you have questions about business or social etiquette, just ask John at [email protected]. Connect with The Key Class on Facebook. Follow John Daly on Twitter: @johndalyjrClick here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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