How to deal with fundraiser solicitors

You're probably hit up for money regularly. Sponsor my run for the cure? How about some Girl Scout cookies? Come to my fundraising corn hole tournament. Join us for casino night at the Catholic school.

Sadly, indiscriminate giving can be a budget-buster, and doesn't always accomplish much good. If we have one consistent message throughout WalletPop, it's that each dollar counts. So make it count.

A wise giver includes charitable giving in his budget (you do have a budget, right?). This includes, of course, the big gifts to your church or The Cato Institute or The Hemlock Society but doesn't often include the nickel-and-dime obligations that we take on casually. I hope you also vett the organization of your choice to assure an acceptable percentage of its receipts actually go to the cause it represents.

I have a few rules that I use to decide about contributions.

1. I won't donate for another person's recreation. If they want to run for the cure, let them pay for it, too. If they are truly giving of themselves, say, going to New Orleans to carry bricks, I'm much more likely to contribute.

2. I don't donate to those who attend a private school. If their parents can afford the school, they can afford to send their band to Washington without my help. Or they could ask the Pope to chip in.

3. I don't usually buy a candy bar for charity. If I'm feeling magnanimous, I might donate the dollar and tell them to keep the candy. I don't need the calories, and the candy isn't that good, anyway.

4. I don't give to those who come to my door. I'm never completely sure that the person is on the up and up, and I resent being pulled away from my work or nap just so I can be solicited. And each solicitor that comes away from your door will result in more solicitors. If people would only have the sense to refuse to listen to phone solicitations, we wouldn't have to put up with them. The same goes for door to door requests.

5. I keep my antenna tuned to pick up on those 'friends' who only get in touch when they want my help/contribution/endorsement. Those people, I simply avoid.

6. I am, however, willing to fork over a few bucks when my real friends ask, but I look at that as lubricating the relationship.

How do I turn down such request politely?

I don't try to explain. I simply say no, thank you. If they hector me, I can be commensurately rude.

Those to whom I feel I owe an explanation, I explain that I donate all I can to issues that I care deeply about, and if I have some spare money, I'll add it to that commitment.

The door-to-door solicitations? Attend closely, because this is important. You are NOT obligated to answer your doorbell. A ring is simply a request for your attention, and your attention is yours to grant or not, as you so choose. If you spot the magazine sales team working your neighborhood, ignore the bell. It is your right. Use it.

If you do donate, demand a receipt. If none is forthcoming, take back your money.

Remember, every dollars counts. Is yours going where it will do the most good?

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