Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Are You Or Your Business Deluged With End Of Year Requests From Charities?

Have you noticed how more and more of your  friends are starting charities? How more and more friends are on boards and committees of non-profits and so more and more of them are helping raise money for a good cause? Just this week, I have received four newsletters, one phone call, two e-mail requests, one letter and one phone call -all from friends. They all say the same thing: charities have been hard hit, this is a really worthy cause, won't you give, give again, or give more?

Personally, what I find frustrating are the ambivalent feelings rising up in me. Yes, they are all worthy causes and yes, I want to help my friends as I have been there too helping raise money for a cause. I am finding it tougher and tougher to fend these requests off while at the same time feeling guilty that I have to do so.The trap that I am in, and I am sure this applies to many people, is that as these requests increase so has my total giving while at the same time individual donations to my favorite charities have decreased from previous years. It is hard to say to them: "I am giving to you less this year, because I am now also giving to, (for example) an orphanage in Africa.

Is this experience any different if you are small business, or large one for that matter?  You may have already have a favorite community cause or causes that you employees care about that you have been sponsoring all along, If you have a giving plan, you may already budgeted your charitable contributions for the year, Yet, you too are probably deluged with solicitations from local charities and you would like to help-you really would.. Add to all of this the fact businesses this past year have had even less to give than before.

Here is an example from a local business owner in Lane County, Eugene Oregon, where businesses have seen pleas for help from local charities climb as the economy has declined in the past three years.

“There’s so many probably deserving groups that it’s really hard — you can’t even take all the calls,” said Rob Bennett, owner of Bennett Management Company and the Downtown Athletic Club. Plus, he added, “We have relatively less (to give) than what we did three years ago. We’re holding our own, but the decisions are harder and the amount we can contribute is down from earlier years.” Register.com

Last year, we posted: "How To Say No (and Yes) To Charity Requests, which gave suggestions on how to cope with this increase in requests for donations.

What I think this holiday scramble really points to is that private giving (not at the Bill Gates' billionaires level) is being tapped out and charities need to turn to seek support from businesses both during the holidays and all year in order to survive. Even if a business cannot give much in cash donations there are so many ways that a business can do to help that private individuals cannot.

Here are some ideas:

  • Create an employee giving program where employees choose which organizations they would like support.
  • Matching grants for private donations( which have proven to be enormously successful) .
  • Engaging customers for a cause-even a jar on the counter asking for spare change to help a worthy cause, can add up to a lot. Check out how Whole Foods and Safeway do this.
  • Donate products, services, expertise.
  • Volunteer, have employees volunteer in teams.
  • Cause marketing promotion, attracting customers to purchase with a portion of the sales going to a cause.
  • Set out collection bins for food, toys, clothing, even cell phones. 
So now- because as a single supporter  I have fewer of these options, I have to go off and write some checks before the end of the year hoping that these will help my favorite causes.

No comments: