Using Friendship As A Springboard To Charitable Donations

by admin on June 6, 2012

I keep in touch with a college friend through Facebook, but we haven’t seen each other in years, and haven’t even talked online in a few years either.

Through her Facebook statuses, events, etc, I have learned that she is involved with a charity and has a goal to raise a certain amount of money for the charity by a certain date. I have received invites and messages asking for donations that she has sent to several of her friends at once.

I do not choose to use my money for this particular charity right now, so I haven’t donated. I have nothing against this charity, but I support other charities and am particular about my budget. I also don’t think I need to justify how I spend my money, regardless.

Just yesterday, I received a message from her to me personally asking for a donation. This is the second I’ve gotten that is just to me personally. I imagine that she is copy-pasting a message to one person at a time, but it still makes me feel a bit singled out.

Is there anything etiquette-wise that suggests you shouldn’t repeatedly single someone out for donations? Obviously, it is not on her behalf, it’s for a worthwhile charity.

Is there a faux pas on my head for not responding at all?  0605-12

It appears you have become less a friend and more of a potential donor who receives repeated mailings soliciting donations.  The relationship has transitioned from friendship to a business transaction.    An adult daughter of a friend of mine sends me a solicitation for a donation every six months, like clockwork, to support her favorite charity while never once having a civil discussion with me.  I toss the letters in the mail without a speck of remorse. I’m just not in the mood to fund people whose only connection to me is based on how much money they can extract from me.

{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Laurita June 6, 2012 at 7:18 am

I shaved my head last year in support of young adults with cancer. I did send out notices on FaceBook, and blogged about it as well, but didn’t contact anyone personally. Many, many people gave to the cause (some just to see my bald head perhaps) and some just gave kind words of support. I made sure to thank everyone personally with hand written notes when the deed was done.

Many people have causes of their own they like to support, and some people just can’t afford to give at all. I don’t think a general, open request is rude, but contacting people repeatedly for donations certainly is.

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Margaret June 6, 2012 at 7:24 am

I suggest replying, “No further solicitations, please.”

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Stacey Frith-Smith June 6, 2012 at 7:28 am

Admin has the right of it- funding people whose sole, or primary connection, is one of soliciting for money is not a desirable relationship. Interestingly, this works in the reverse. People who are actual or attempted objects of charity (whether money, time or advice) don’t appreciate being made a “project”. Real relationships aren’t about one controller and one passive object. They have a dynamic of give and take, with interplay between all parties.

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--Lia June 6, 2012 at 7:32 am

The admin is so right that this relationship has turned into a business one. I wouldn’t just ignore the pleas for money. I’d be tempted to unfriend her so I wouldn’t have to see the appeals and be reminded regularly that someone I’d like a real friendship with only thinks of me as a source of money. But first I’d make a last ditch effort to see if the friendship could be salvaged. I’d call her for a nice chat. If you live in the same city, I’d invite her for coffee. I’d see if we had anything in common or if we enjoyed each other’s company. If she’s too busy, that lets you know where you stand with her. If she’s not and you have a good time, then you know her well enough to tell her that you don’t want any more appeals. Her response will again let you know if she thinks of you as a friend or only someone who’s good for money and nothing else.

Something else occurs to me. Let’s say you did choose to give to this particular charity. Are the appeals made in such a way that she would know if you’d donated? Is it set up so that the checks go to her first? Or do you send to the national office with no go-between? I’m wondering if she benefits in any way besides feeling like she’s done good for a cause she believes in.

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Shorty June 6, 2012 at 8:28 am

I can see why this is extremely off-putting. I can also see the other party’s perspective. This is how you raise money for charity. To her, she is getting the word out there in the hopes of raising dollars for a good cause…how do you know if you don’t ask? A personal message is a bit over zealous and not something that I would feel comfortable doing myself. Some people have drawn their boundaries a little more liberally.

I believe ignoring the message will in fact send the same message as if you replied with a ‘no thank you.’ However, if it is really getting under your skin (and again, I completely understand that!) a no solicitation or defriending might be what it takes to remedy the situation.

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allyoops June 6, 2012 at 8:30 am

There is nothing wrong with asking others for donations, people, charities, businesses do it all the time.

I think OP seems offended because she believes she has a friendship with this person, although it really doesn’t sound like one to me.

There’s absolutely no reason to be offended by this. I get solicitations all the time to support charities. I simply take each one, REGARDLESS OF WHO SENT IT, consider it carefully and choose as I will. I don’t believe there’s any reason to say “no further solicitations please” unless you are truly repulsed or angered by the actual charity –not the person who sent it.

I don’t believe there’s ever any reason to be offended by a friend (or child of a friend, kids from school, coworkersetc.) who asks for money for their favorite charity. They have a passion and a desire to see something through and that should be commended in this time and age we are in. If you are offended by this, I think you should reevaluate why you are so sensitive about it.

Admin – I don’t see any reason to be offended by the child of your friend asking for solicitations. She probably understands you to be a woman of character who is a kind person who does good things all the time–that’s why she sent you solicitation–not because you are a friend that she’s trying to take advantage of.

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CaffeineKatie June 6, 2012 at 8:30 am

Why not just say…Dear Jane, I can tell you are very passionate about Charity XYZ. Unfortunately, I am already committed to supporting other charities. Best of luck with your fundraising for XYZ. Sincerely, Me. If she is just committed, she will probably take you off the fundraiser list; if she’s offended, you haven’t lost anything. Easey, peasey.

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Angel June 6, 2012 at 8:48 am

I think I know the charity the OP is talking about. If it’s for the 3 day, I’m doing this walk too. You have to raise a minimum of $2300 to walk. How about making a donation to my fund LOL?

But seriously, solicitations should be made once. If the person chooses not to respond or donate, that should be the end of it. And may I add, that 75 percent of all my donations (I made my minimum within 6 months) were not from individuals, they were from fundraisers that I organized myself, in conjunction with local businesses, I had retail parties (where the invitees of course were informed beforehand what the party was for) and later this week, a team member and I will be bagging groceries at a local supermarket for tips, that will go towards the 3 day. Bake sales too. We found that people like to get something for their donations, and not have to donate a lot. So these fundraisers we do are to get out into the community and raise awareness rather than sticking our hands out for donations.

I think that what your “friend” is doing is really rude, not only etiquette wise but also from a moral standpoint. I have far more respect and am much more likely to give if I see a group out there, talking about the cause and really willing to make a personal connection with potential donors, rather than repeatedly soliciting online and never making a personal connection. I would respond to the email with, I would prefer not to donate at this time, but I haven’t seen you in a while, how about a cup of coffee sometime if you’re free? Her response will tell you all that you need to know.

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Patti Purcell June 6, 2012 at 9:31 am

I also do not like It when friends solicit me for donations to a charity, that I do not chose myself.
My answer is always, I already gave my donation to my chuch for what I can do In my budget.

Asking you two times, enough already, I would take her off my Facebook friend especially If you had not personally visited her in a long time.
It is the worst, when you receive address labels, small gifts, that ask for money, one I actually received a second letter, saying they did not receive my donation for the labels I had received.
Hey Thanks for the labels, I will use them, but I did not ask for them. So no donation from me.

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elizabeth June 6, 2012 at 9:44 am

I don’t think there is anything wrong with your lack of response. However, a lack of respose may just cause her to continue to send inquiries your way. I’d recommen responding to the last request (or the next one) with a simple note saying you already donate to other charities and wish to no longer be included in her future requests for donations.

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Shalamar June 6, 2012 at 9:45 am

A wise person once said (I believe it was Miss Manners) that, if you’re invited to a Tupperware (or similar) party by someone with whom you’ve never socialized before, you’re more than justified to RSVP “no, thank you.” The same thing applies here.

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KMC June 6, 2012 at 9:51 am

I absolutely agree with the admin on this one. I have no problem with people posting on their page asking for donations for a charity they support, or asking for sponsors for a charity event they will be participating in. I’ve done it myself, posting a link on my own page when my husband and I participated in a charity walk. I don’t even really have a problem with people sending out a general invitation to all their friends.

I also have no problem if people want to ignore it, especially if there is no other contact between them.

Singling people out does seem a bit high pressure and rude to me.

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Cat Whisperer June 6, 2012 at 10:32 am

“I keep in touch with a college friend through Facebook, but we haven’t seen each other in years, and haven’t even talked online in a few years either.

I guess OP’s definition of a friend is different from mine, because I don’t see how you can consider yourself friends with someone you haven’t talked to, even just on-line, in years.

For gosh sakes, this is a relationship that faded from friendship to acquaintanceship a long time ago, apparently. “Unfriend” on Facebook, and if you still receive the solicitation for donations after that, just hit the “delete” key or tear ‘em up and toss them, as applicable.

As etiquette problems go, this is right up there with the correct way to hold your teacup when you attend a soiree with the Queen.

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Justin June 6, 2012 at 10:32 am

I have a very simple rule, I so not accept soliciatations to donate to charity via social media, door knocking, or telephone. If a friend is supporting a charity and it aligns with my beliefs I will ask them about it. For everything else I look at what causes I wish to give my support to and then seek out a charity that has goals and beliefs that align with my own.

I see giving to charity as a lot like making a significant purchase, you research, decide what you want, and then execute a donation. It is important to me that how a charity uses donations is in line with my own beliefs on the cause. If I don’t research I don’t know what I am doing with my donations.

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Ann June 6, 2012 at 10:57 am

OP asked, “Is there a faux pas on my head for not responding at all?”

Not really, these requests can be ignored.

HOWEVER, if you write 200+ words complaining about your acquaintance’s “ask”, when you could have used 25 words to compose a polite note to end the situation, then it does become an issue.

SAMPLE NOTE:
“Hi, Cindy. I have my own roster of charities that I donate time &/or money to, so I can’t help you out. I wish you much success in your campaign, however. Best, Audrey”.

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June June 6, 2012 at 11:25 am

I suspect that she won’t stop emailing unless you specifically tell her to stop. Maybe you could reply with, “Thank you for thinking of me, but I won’t be giving at this time. How is your family?” That way, you leave the door open for a real friendship. But then again, maybe you don’t want a friendship with this person after all. :)

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Drawberry June 6, 2012 at 11:31 am

My response by this point would likely not be the most polite in the world, as I have little tolerance for being used as a money machine. By the second personal ‘copy-paste’ message I would likely offer the response of:

“How do I unsubscribe from the mailing list?”

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Enna June 6, 2012 at 12:03 pm

I invited people to join a group on FB for a charity I volunteer for but I don’t ask for donations. It’s people’s own choice if they join the group or not and if they want to take it further and volunteer or donate then that’s their choice. The charity had a raffle for a new car – I offered tickets to two close firends who are a couple who I knew needed a family car as well as to my father and uncle who would have benefitted if they had won as they had old cars too.

I think the OP should respond and say that she/he does not want any more messages regarding donations. It would be one thing if it was something the OP was interested in but the FB firend must take no or no response as no for an answer otherwise she or he will be alienating poeple and bad press has more of an impact then good press.

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Rebecca June 6, 2012 at 12:10 pm

I would probably reply to her instead of ignoring it, but with something like this:

Dear _______

I have been glad to have you on my facebook friend list. I will always value the friendship we shared in college. However, I will now be removing you from my list, and I feel you have the right to know why.

Your involvement with ______ charity is nothing short of admirable, and I’m so glad they have such a dedicated supporter. However, your recent personal solicitations have me feeling put on the spot and even harassed… especially since you have made little or no effort to also interact with me on a personal level, though part of the blame of course lies with me on that.

I hope you continue helping others in need, and I will continue to give to the charities with which I feel a personal connection. I wish you well, but we will not be speaking again.

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Library Diva June 6, 2012 at 12:23 pm

That’s one aspect about Facebook that I hate. I have more than 300 Facebook “friends” that I’ve met in every way imaginable. Many I haven’t seen since high school (15 years ago now) , college, or the job where I met them, but I’ve always enjoyed keeping up with people I once knew and finding out how they turned out. I usually just ignore the statuses asking for donations to charity as they roll by, but recently, one ‘friend’ (who was a grade ahead of me in high school, and who I only ever knew casually) added me (and, clearly, the rest of her friends list) to a group she created in support of a charity bike ride she’s doing. I found this invasive and left the group at once.

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Cat June 6, 2012 at 1:17 pm

This reminds me of the time I left a grocery store and a little girl who was lounging in a beach chair called loudly to me, “Hey! Want to send me to summer camp?” I stifled the urge to respond, “Only if you promise never to come back.” and simply said “No.”

At least have the good manners to come up to me rather than shouting at me and to refrain from addressing a lady your grandmother’s age as “Hey!”.

Since she sent it to you personally, I would respond and say that, while supporting charities is a worth-while use of ones time and money, I have other charities to which I have already commited my money for the next five years.

As far as the daughter of the friend of the administrator-I stop supporting the children of friend’s fundraising efforts once they get past selling band camp chocolates.

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Gracie C. June 6, 2012 at 1:28 pm

Rebecca – I think that response is strong unless the OP has previously stated that she isn’t interested. Some people are really obtuse and don’t make the connection that lack of response equals uninterested.

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Jane June 6, 2012 at 1:47 pm

I don’t see anything “wrong” with a lack of response, but how hard would a simple sentence or two be? I agree with Elizabeth – that the lack of response may be what causes her to keep sending. There are some great suggestions for wording on here. “Dear ____, I’m sorry, I can’t really donate right now. Hope you’re doing well.”

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lkb June 6, 2012 at 3:25 pm

“…and even harassed… especailly since you have made little or no effort to interact with me on a personal level…I wish you well, but we will not be speaking again.”

I understand where Rebecca is coming from and for the most part I agree with contacting the solicitor but the phrasing above sounds harsh to me. Instead take out the “harassed” and “but we will not be speaking again.” Change the middle portion to “especially as we have not really interacted on a personal level for some time” (leave in the “part of the blame…” portion).

Just my two cents.

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NW June 6, 2012 at 4:05 pm

This is so timely and helpful to me. Just this morning, I received a similar e-mail from an acquaintance.

She is a friend of a friend – we have never socialized outside of events revolving around our mutual friend, and the last time I saw her was at said mutual friend’s wedding three years ago. The acquaintance recently sent me an Evite to a Memorial Day BBQ she and her husband were throwing. I was surprised to be receiving any kind of invite from her since we have never really socialized before, but I thought it sounded like it might be fun to see her and meet some new people…. until I opened the Evite and saw that it was a $25-per-head fundraiser for her nonprofit organization. I declined the invitation as I surmised that she was only interested in me as a potential donor and not as someone she would like to spend time with. That is perfectly fine, but it doesn’t make me want to spend a holiday hanging out in her backyard.

Today she sent me, and presumably everyone else who did not attend the fundraiser, a somewhat lengthy e-mail seeking donations to the organization: “Although you were not able to attend, please consider making a donation…” etc.

This really rubbed me the wrong way, and the Admin’s comments helped me to articulate why.

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Jenn50 June 6, 2012 at 4:36 pm

I detest solicitations. A blanket statement on your facebook page saying “I’m fundraising for X, and here’s how to support me if you’d like to do so.” is fine. Feeling the need to add people to a group for the cause or individually messaging them to request donations after the open message is tacitly acknowledging that you’ve noticed that some people haven’t coughed up, and you are now attempting to shame or bully them into doing so by direct pressure. It’s a tactic that I don’t even like in business situations, much less social ones. If I see your status about fundraising for cancer, MS, the humane society, whatever, and I want to contribute, I will do so without being pushed into it. If you start bugging me, you guarantee that no matter how noble the cause, I will NOT be participating, because I don’t want to encourage those tactics. I wouldn’t ignore the offending messages, however. Not because I think it’s rude, but as one poster stated, the type of people who use these techniques tend to be either very dense, or very dogged, and will continue ad nauseum to pester you with requests. I would simply reply that “I wish you all the best with your efforts, but I have already chosen the charities I am supporting, and in any case, I do not respond to personal solicitation.” If they get offended and defriend you, it doesn’t seem like much of a loss to me.

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--Lia June 6, 2012 at 4:59 pm

I became facebook friends with someone I knew from highschool 35 years ago. We weren’t terribly good friends then, but I knew her a little. I’ve run into her at various reunions and wouldn’t mind getting to know her better. Each year at Christmas, I send her a nice personal letter. Each year I get a card from her with no personal greeting. I’ve been able to figure out from her facebook pictures a little about what she does for a living and that she may have remarried, but I never heard anything about her divorce. Recently I tried again and wrote her email specifically asking about what she was up to and how she was. I received an invitation to like her non-profit business. I wrote again saying that I was hoping for a letter, an update. I heard nothing back. I quietly unfriended her.

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Catherine June 6, 2012 at 9:42 pm

If you’re not interested, just don’t respond. I, too, am Facebook friends with a lot of people from high school and college who I haven’t seen or communicated with since graduation. And sometimes I end up getting their solicitations – “invitations” to parties for the beauty products they sell, requests for donations to charities, invitations to the birthday parties of children I will never meet. Yes, I think these things are tacky and impersonal and weird, but they come with the territory of using Facebook at all. People tend to put even LESS thought into the things they post online than the things they do or say in real life, which is unfortunate, but there you go, and you should be used to it if you’ve ever looked at your own news feed. If you’re going to use Facebook to maintain shaky connections with people you hardly know anymore, you have to be willing to accept the occasional solicitation because tacky people will be tacky people, online or no. If maintaining a friendship with this person is really important to you, send off a quick “no thank you.” If not, just delete them and don’t think about it. If it really bothers you that much, unfriend or block the person, or don’t open the messages.

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Tasryn June 7, 2012 at 3:58 am

I’ve had this before too although it was with a friend who was setting up her own business doing style consultancy. For awhile, I really felt hounded by this girl to support her business. She does make up parties and she spent my entire Halloween party putting the pressure on for me and my friends to have a make up party (she sells products from a particular make up line). Then she wanted to do a one-on-one analysis of what colors look best on me (part of her style consultancy) at $150 a pop and asked numerous times but I declined that because that really is a lot of money to blow on color analysis, especially as this is not something I’m particularly interested in.

After this pressure sales pitch went on for awhile, I finally sat her down and explained that although I am happy she is starting a new business, I don’t appreciate being treated like a “customer” instead of a friend and that I wasn’t a non stop ATM available to fund her various efforts and neither were my other friends. Once she understood how offended I was, she backed off and I haven’t heard a peep from her since then. I think sometimes in people’s zeal to accomplish a task, they forget that friends are friends, not business partners. A little reality check can go a long way especially as many people don’t realize how dogged they have gotten to support their cause.

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Bint June 7, 2012 at 4:18 am

I don’t appreciate people claiming to be friends with me and hitting me up for money or anything else if that’s the only effort they make to stay in touch. I understand the OP’s annoyance with that. *However*, how much effort is the OP making to be friends with this woman? If I haven’t tried to communicate as a friend with someone then I can hardly be surprised if their efforts back are so weak. And if you are not friends then why stay on FB with them at all? The ones who annoy me are the ones who solicit me in exchange for an email asking how they are, without bothering to answer my question. Bye-bye.

I also admire people who *give* to charity far more than people who ask others to do so because they ran a marathon. I know we need the latter but the former are the ones who make it all work, and it sometimes seems people forget that.

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Angela June 7, 2012 at 6:56 am

I get a lot of solicitations via email or FB from current and former students. If it’s a cause that I support enough, I usually throw them a few dollars. Otherwise I don’t respond.
I might add that FB is set up so that you have to add people to a group…they can’t voluntarily add themselves (although they could ask you to add them).

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Kate June 7, 2012 at 10:45 pm

I have a similar Facebook ‘friend’ who only contacts me to send invitations to Tupperware parties and the like. I eventually blocked them.
I expect you would have no problem helping this woman out if she actually treated you as a friend, ie. communicated with you beyond asking for donations, asked you how you were doing, etc. I suggest a short message along the lines of “I appreciate your work for x charity but will be unable to donate at this time”. If she hassles you, you can always drop the ‘a’ word which most people take as a cue to stop asking questions: “I cannot afford it”. If she STILL doesn’t take the hint, I would reconsider having her as a Facebook friend.

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Elizabeth June 8, 2012 at 10:39 am

Just because this person asks, doesn’t mean you owe a response, donation, or explanation. The general solicitation is pushy but then contacting you individually and, effectively, putting you on the spot is quite rude, IMO.

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Lychii June 10, 2012 at 5:04 am

allyoops – I find your comment rather offensive. Who are you to tell anyone they need to “reevaluate themselves” if they don’t like being hit on for donations? Just because you enjoy it, doesn’t mean everyone should!

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babs June 10, 2012 at 5:21 pm

I would ignore or send a polite, but to the point note back that the others have offered. But I would not say I can’t afford it. If it’s not true, it’s leading her to think that you’re in some type of financial trouble that you’re not (that she may repeat) and if it’s true, it’s none of her business. Age and experience has taught me over the years that I don’t have to make excuses for decisions I make, unless it’s to a family member or close friend. Telling her that you have charities that you already support, but wish her well in her efforts, is not making an excuse, it’s stating a fact. Anything beyond that sounds like you’re building a case for why you can’t contribute and may leave the door open for future solicitations. I would be tempted to not reply at all. Sometimes silence speaks volumes.

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Bestie August 9, 2012 at 9:59 pm

I’ve been trying to think of a way to respond to my supervisor when she does her yearly bike ride for one of the larger charities in our community. Initially it was just an email to all the employees in our building asking for a donation. Then, she sent a second email basically saying ” I did my part, now I deserve a donation”. I did not respond as I thought it was rather presumptuous on her part. The next year I found an envelope on my desk with my name on it. In it was a donation form with the date she wanted to have it by. When she came to pick it up I told her that I already donate money every paycheck to the organization, and to see if someone else could use the form. She was upset but finally let it go. This year she sent an email that she would bring in a “treat” in order to encourage people to donate, and that you know how important it is to me” I am beginning to wonder if it is really about the “cause” or if her ego is tied up in the amount she raises.

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