Manners Matter: Fundraising Limits

Dear Mary Pat,

My neighbor’s daughter is very involved in her school and after-school activities. She’s a very sweet little girl who is very motivated at selling (Girl Scout Cookies, Easter chocolates, Christmas wrapping paper, and pizzas) and raising money for different charities (Alzheimer’s Association, Easterseals, United Way, Humane Society, etc.). I feel obligated to say yes to everything she asks of me, but it’s getting a little out of hand. I have my own charities that I support as well as my family. My budget is fairly decent, but sometimes I’m dipping into money set aside for groceries and other essentials.

I need to be more firm, but how do you say no to a 10-year-old who gives you puppy-dog eyes and a whining sales pitch?


Fundraised Out

Sturgeon Bay, Wis.


Dear Fundraised Out,

It’s impossible to say yes to everything. You have to draw the line somewhere. I give credit to this little girl who is thinking of others and is trying her hardest to raise money for some very good causes. It’s not easy to pound the pavement and ask for donations. That being said, maybe she is going to have to branch out a little bit. If you say no every other time or every third time (you’ll have to determine what is reasonable), this girl will learn to broaden the scope of people she is approaching. Maybe your proximity has made it a little too easy. She will have to figure out other ways of reaching people such as phoning relatives or having her mom take her to different neighborhoods. In the process she will also learn some valuable lessons such as:

  1. There is never a guarantee of a sale/commitment.
  2. In sales, be prepared to hear the word “no” often.
  3. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
  4. Anything worth having takes a lot of work.

Be kind and direct, explain why, and let her know if the door is open for future campaigns. “Suzy, I would love to help, but I can’t do it this week/month. Please check back with me at another time and keep up the good work!”

Good luck,

Mary Pat

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