I was shocked to get an email from a classmate asking me to donate to charity as part of her marathon training. Some background: I haven’t talked to or seen this person since b-school graduation. During school, I think we probably exchanged a total of ten words, most of which were ‘hey.’ Sure she’s more than an acquaintance because we were classmates, but that’s about it.
I cannot stand people asking for charitable donations without putting much thought or energy into it. I HATE ASKING PEOPLE FOR MONEY…EVEN IF IT IS FOR CHARITY. If you’re going to try to hit people up to part with their hard-earned dollars, do it wisely.
1. Think about your own reason for commitment. Can you convey why this particular charity is important to you? What are you doing yourself in terms of donating your own money?
2. Think about what’s in it for the potential donor. Are the funds tax deductible? What can I get out of it? At this stage in life, people have charities that they believe in and contribute to. What can you tell me that is going to convince me to donate to yours?
I’m going to draft up how I would have gone about this differently. This is spur of the moment so excuse me if it doesn’t live up to its potential. But honestly, this is how it should be done.
I hope you’re doing well! I’m writing to you about a charity that needs our help. The Western Addition Transitional Shelter (fictional) temporarily houses at-risk women and their children who would otherwise be homeless or on the street. I have been volunteering with the shelter every week for the past year and have been able to see first-hand the difference the programs make in the lives of my neighbors.
One of my favorite kids, Horace, moved into permanent housing with his mother and four siblings a few weeks ago. I saw him on the bus the other day and he was smiling from ear to ear, telling me about his new home.
Funding for the shelter and its programs has been reduced again this fiscal year. I am asking you to consider what you can do to help. In this regard, I am throwing a charity bash at my place: free-flowing wine and plentiful hors d’oeuvres. It’s going to be a great night for a great cause. I feel so strongly about this charity that I will match each donation.
If you cannot donate at this time, please consider volunteering. The kids will love you!
Thanks for reading. I hope to see you at my charity bash.
I previously volunteered for a transitional shelter in Berkeley that was wonderful. I really cared about those kids. These days my charities are all of my alma maters (elementary, high school, college, grad school), my churches, the SF Ballet, the SF Public Library, and 826 Valencia which runs literary programs for children.