The Pushy Person's Guide to Charity Donations

Some people forget what "charity" and "giving back" are really all about. Here's a hint: it's not about bullying people into empyting their wallets! Modern Manners Guy offers 3 tips for soliciting donations.

Richie Frieman
6-minute read
Episode #307

If you’ve been living under a rock for the past month, you may have missed the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. This creative--and hilarious--challenge involves people taking videos of themselves pouring a bucket of ice water (hence the name) over their head, and challenging their friends to do the same--all in the name of ALS awareness. I even took part in the exercise, along with my two kids. Here’s the video!.

A verbal “challenge” that's passed around between friends and family (and, now, also celebrity to celebrity,) the Ice Bucket Challenge has reached millions of people, and increased donations to ALS by over 1,000%.

Unlike the fun tone of this donation drive, however, there are some people that approach charity donations (and recruitment) with rather bullish techniques, scaring people off in the process.

So with that, let’s learn how not to be the most annoying charity organizer on the planet with The Pushy Person’s Guide to Charity Donations.

Tip #1: Do Not Hound People

Let’s kick this conversation off with the most annoying of all things related to gung-ho charity organizers: hounding people repeatedly.

Last month, my friend Jake emailed me (and all of his friends and family) about a charity he was working with. The email explained his cause, and asked for a minimum donation of $50. I was proud of Jake for stepping up to make a difference; however, I did not donate. Why? Well, frankly, after reading his email, I forgot. I admit it. However, Jake did not forget.

Two days later, he sent a “friendly” email reminder with a news article pertaining to his charity. But again, I did not donate. Well, it turns out I was not the only one who didn't, because Jake sent out another email that lacked the jovial spirit of the ones before. In this email, Jake ranted (and I use this term loosely) about how important his cause was, how we were all being selfish, and, of course, that we were all too busy with own lives to care about others. Needless to say, once again, I did NOT donate.

Simply put, you cannot hound someone when it comes to charity – regardless of if you’re a spokesperson or not. Here’s how a conversation about giving should go:

You: “I’m organizing a fundraiser for XYZ charity. If you want to donate, let me know.”

Person A: “Great, thanks.”

And this is the end of the conversation.

I’m sorry, folks--this is about as invasive as you should get when it comes to speaking the gospel about your cause. If someone wants to donate, they will. You can’t badger them for money, or shake them down with email rants. Is it okay to put out reminders? Of course! However, do it with tact.

First, send out the initial email, and let people know where they can go for more information, or how to contact you with any questions. Secondly, keep the rest of the interaction strictly to social media: if you want to rally behind your cause, post an article on Facebook (a great place for charity,) or send a tweet about it. This way, you are talking about it, and raising awareness, without targeting individuals directly for not giving.

If people want to give, they will. You can’t assume they have tons of cash lying around, or be upset when they don’t give to your cause. Be respectful of people’s time and money, and allow them to come to you. Don’t guilt them into donating, just so your cause can benefit.