5 Ways to Respond to Requests for Donations

You’re sitting at your favorite local coffee shop, and across the table is a representative from a nonprofit in town. This isn’t the first time you two have talked: you’ve attended events, subscribed to the newsletter, and followed the organization on social media. You’ve even volunteered on a few Saturdays. But today is different, because today, the representative looks you in the eye and asks you for money.

In that moment, coffee steam curling in between you, what is the best way to respond to the donation request?

These conversations happen on a daily basis in Chattanooga. Yet even though donation requests are common, people often don’t know how many different ways they can respond when asked. 

Here are five ways to respond to a request.

Response #1: “YES!!”

If you know you believe in the organization and know you have the capacity to give, it makes all the sense in the world to donate your resources. You may not be able to give at the level they anticipated, but they will undoubtedly appreciate your generosity.

 

Response #2: “Please give me time to think.”

For any number of reasons, you may not be prepared to provide an immediate response. Everyone’s situation is different: You may need to consult with your spouse. You may want to pray and make sure God is calling you to give to this organization. You may need time to think about your overall giving and whether you have the financial capacity. It’s always fine to ask for time to consider the donation request.

 

Response #3: “I need more information.”

Giving creates a relationship between you and the organization. You may feel you don’t know enough about the organization to financially invest your resources. Perhaps you want to read their annual report, familiarize yourself with their board, or examine their 990 (a form summarizing the financial information of a nonprofit). If you need more information in order to be excited about giving to the organization, don’t hesitate to ask.

 

Response #4: “No, but don’t give up on me.”

We can say no for different reasons. Often, timing is an issue. You may have recently paid a large tax bill or have a big expense in the near future. Though you may want to say “yes,” your checkbook may be saying “no” at the moment. In those cases, it is very appropriate to say no—but let them know that the issue is timing, and the fundraiser should check back in with you later.

 

Response #5: “Your organization doesn’t fit my priorities.” 

This is the trickiest one, because in this case you may have the capacity to give, but not the desire. Even though there are many organizations doing many amazing things, you are not called to—nor likely able to—give to all of them. In some cases, a nonprofit may ask you to donate to a cause you’re not stirred to.

Every donor has causes that stir their passions: everything from childhood education to economic empowerment to church planting to global missions. But we are not God, whose resources are limitless. 

If a nonprofit you are not called to give to does ask you for a donation, there are many ways to say, “no.” But in any of them, the most important thing is clarity. Be honest about the areas God has called you to give and why they don’t fit.

Honesty cuts through the awkwardness

We often find ourselves struggling for words when asked to donate. But the key is to remember that honesty cuts through awkwardness. Be open about your thoughts and feelings when it comes to a potential donation. It will help the organization better understand you and give them insights on how to best approach you in the future. 

Organizations are doing the job God has called them to do when they ask us to consider a donation. We are doing the job God has called us to do when we faithfully steward the resources he’s entrusted to us, even if it means saying no to some giving opportunities.

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