Can’t Say Yes to Every Donation Request—but Hate to Say No?  Ask Madeleine

Dear Madeleine,

I work with a large team and I am getting overwhelmed by the number of requests to donate to different causes.

I am one of the few people on the team without kids, and I have never asked my coworkers to donate to causes I support. But I am barraged by requests to buy wrapping paper, cookie dough, give to school fundraisers, etc., for people’s kids. Other colleagues are forever walking, biking, and running to raise money for various causes. And don’t get me started on Kickstarter campaigns.

I do feel fortunate and I do give back by volunteering at an animal shelter, so I feel like I do my part. My big dream is to travel, so I have been trying to put all my spare cash in a kitty to save up for that.

I know these causes are good ones, so I am always torn—and I feel like if I don’t give, people will judge me. What do you think?

Bled Dry


Dear Bled Dry,

I get it. It would be nice to have unlimited funds to just give all the time–the research shows that it gives humans great pleasure to do so—but clearly you don’t have that kind of money.

Most of the causes you are approached about probably are completely worthy, as you’ve said. And you have every right to save for your big trip. Half of the problem is the tizzy you get thrown into every time you get a request. The kind of mental gymnastics you are forced into is exhausting and is not serving you.

So here is what I suggest—it will be fair to all requesters and will stop constant noise caused by all the requests. Look at your finances and decide what you can afford to give on an annual basis while still saving for your dream. It doesn’t have to be a lot—maybe $200 or something like that. Then, you give a small amount, say $5 or $10 dollars, to anyone who asks, until you reach your pre-determined limit. Then you tell folks that you have maxed out your giving budget for the year. Done.

You will be secure in the knowledge that you thought it through, made some choices, and are sticking to your financial plan. People can judge however they please—and honestly, some will judge no matter what you do. The important thing is that you know you are doing the best you can.

Love, Madeleine

About the author

Madeleine Homan Blanchard is a master certified coach, author, speaker, and cofounder of Blanchard Coaching Services. Madeleine’s Advice for the Well Intentioned Manager is a regular Saturday feature for a very select group: well intentioned managers. Leadership is hard—and the more you care, the harder it gets. Join us here each week for insight, resources, and conversation.

Got a question for Madeleine? Email Madeleine and look for your response here next week!

2 thoughts on “Can’t Say Yes to Every Donation Request—but Hate to Say No?  Ask Madeleine

  1. Dear Madeline,

    How about incorporating a company wide policy that prohibits solicitation for fundraisers and private causes that are not company wide initiatives, then make 1 or 2 company wide initiatives a year to participate in and give back to as a team?

    Just a thought,

    Carolyn Rolph

  2. My AccountNow Visa Debit card is my only source of finances. Due to robbery I suffered a loss of Identity cards. Where I am able to do transactions is severely limited. At present I possess a birth cerificate copy purchased from government records office.

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