Tips for Giving

Josie Leavitt - May 11, 2012

Every small business owner gets asked for charitable contributions practically every day. I’m finding that this spring seems to be an especially busy for events. While I like to give everyone, there are sometimes I need to say no. But here are some tips for getting to yes.
– The best way for me to give your organization a donation is to be shopper at my store. I’m always willing to help my customers with their causes.
– Understand that I’m more inclined to give to a literacy related organization than to others. If your child’s class is seeking something, be very clear about what the donation will be going towards. There was a school that called and asked if we donate and I asked what the cause was: funding a junior class trip to Barbados. Well, now, that’s not quite I had in mind for my gift certificate donation. Donation for books or enrollment scholarships, sure. Barbardos, not so much.
– We want to give to everyone. So, if we offer a gift card for less than you were thinking, please don’t say, “Is that the best you can do?” Someone actually said that us as they lamented that our $25 gift card wasn’t a $100.
– If we always give to your group, maybe skip a year of asking before seeking another donation. Skipping a year allows us to give t9 another group. Just the other day a customer decided to skip us in a funny way. Janet had come in seeking our annual donation to the Rotary. I happened to be out and she got to talking to a staffer and realized that we’d given a donation for the last six years and she thought we should take a break, so she bought the gift card herself to donate to the Rotary. And, she bought a book. That was just lovely. So next year, we’ll be sure to remember this.
– Be understanding if your organization is too far away from us for our gift card to actually be used. Part of giving a charitable donation is to bring new people to the store.
– We like talking to kids if their class is raising money. It’s always fun to hear from a third grader about how the money raised will be used for a trip to the Eco Center, so if they can come to talk us themselves, that’s also nice.
– Please do send us a thank you card that we can use for our taxes.
– If there’s a way for little kids to help make a thank you card, please do that. There is nothing I like more than getting a ridiculously over-sized paper with tiny handprints on it and a drawing of a flying pig.

5 thoughts on “Tips for Giving

  1. Ellen R

    The easiest “no” ever for me was to three woman, whom I’d never seen before (certainly not customers), who wanted a donation for an auction to raise money for their high school reunion. Say what???

  2. Carol B. Chittenden

    We, too, feel the incessant pressure to donate. I wonder if law offices and accountants are hit up in the same way.
    I’d like to have a way to identify who’s shopped here and who hasn’t. Of course we recogniza many customers on sight. Is there a good way to do that tactfully? Ask them to show us a receipt? Or tell us about a book they’ve bought here?

    1. Shirley

      Some days I wish I could say with a straight face, “You’ll need to call our corporate office.”

  3. Trish Brown

    We, too, get a lot of requests for donations. We always look at our Bookstore Booster membership to determine if the person asking for a donation is a regular shopper. If the geographical location of the organization or the cause itself is marginal, the number of times they’ve been in the store informs our decision whether to give or not (Booklog tracks this information for us). Our standard donation is a certificate for a private story time for up to 12 children (with adult supervision), which almost always brings in folks who haven’t been in the store.

  4. Carol Moyer

    While I am also inclined to give only to our best customers, I have to say that I had an experience that made me rethink this position. Ladies from a church came in asking for a donation for a silent auction and I gave them one of our small tote bags with a couple of books. About a month later they came back with funds to purchase books for the church library. They expressed great appreciation for the donation, and said they would now purchase all the books from us. Instead of already being good customers, they became good customers because of the donation. So, I would urge everyone not to miss an opportunity to make a customer!


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