Declining An Invitation To A Holiday Fundraiser

by admin on December 3, 2013

Here is an etiquette question for you. Every year a good friend and I ‘adopt’ several needy families for the holidays. We provide new toys and clothing for the children and raise the money at a casual fundraiser with all our friends. We ask that friends give $20 for which they get a raffle ticket (with some really cool homemade raffle items like baked goods paired with bottles of wine, baskets filled with holiday items, etc.). I also provide a homemade gift for attendees to take home with them as a thank you for attending (cupcakes, chocolates etc.). The only thing I feel bad about is that attendees have to buy their own drinks but we do provide some appetizer platters and it is usually a really fun evening and we’ll raise about $1000 that we spend on the items for the needy families.

Here is a question from a few years ago as pertains to the event. I invited a close friend of mine (I should say that back then the attendance request for this event was only $10). He responded to the invite by saying that the charity was not one he believed in so he would not be attending.

I appreciate honesty but wouldn’t it be more polite to have said: “I’m busy that day, I can’t attend.” Or frankly, is $10 that big a deal when we are talking about helping needy children to have a Merry Christmas? If it were a money issue, I would  completely respect that response (I’ve had friends who could not participate for that reason in the past and I invite them to come by anyway – the more the merrier) but I was so put off by this response that this friend and I didn’t talk for a few weeks. I’m completely over it now. He is a very good man and a really loyal friend, but I always wondered if I overreacted to his response.   0730-13<

You overreacted.   You are running a charity event but it’s very personal in nature so any rejection of the charity may be viewed by you as a rejection of you.   I have my charities I support and I may not have chosen to sponsor yours either simply because your charity is not within the sphere of charities I will fund that year.    Due to the casual nature of your charitable work, there may be no accountability for how money is spent and I think people are well within their rights to choose where their charitable dollars are going based on fiscal oversight by third parties.

{ 96 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah Peart December 3, 2013 at 6:02 am

Big charities are accountable but not always as efficient as you might think. The Red Cross (who are seen as having a good ratio) loses 9.1% in administration (4%) and fundraising costs (5.1%), I do not wish to dump on them, it is the way of the world! The people who work for them have to be paid, they have to have offices and fundraising events, advertising etc.
I do not know if they exist in other countries but in Britain they have chuggers – charity muggers. To explain these are people who collect – rather agressively – for the charity involved, with a collection tin normally in a shopping mall, to all intents and purposes they look like the volunteers of all collecting for the charity, however they are much more persistant – hence the mugging aspect. The charity contacts an agency who provides them with this service – the chuggers themselves are paid around 10 pounds an hour/$16.40/€12.10; add to this the agency fee and you can see this can be quite a drain on the charities resources. The public are so incensed at the practice that the local councils are considering banning these people! So I say thank you to OP for her fundraising efforts and God bless her.
On a personal level I think your friend could have given $10 to support you as a friend, enjoyed being at the event etc. However maybe they felt that they did not have that wriggle room in their budget and kudos to you for seeing his side too and moving on!

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Miss-E December 3, 2013 at 6:08 am

“Or frankly, is $10 that big a deal when we are talking about helping needy children to have a Merry Christmas? If it were a money issue, I would completely respect that response (I’ve had friends who could not participate for that reason in the past and I invite them to come by anyway – the more the merrier)”

…kind of contradicting yourself there OP.

I’d say as long as he wasn’t rude to, he can decline for any excuse he chooses. Are you honestly saying you’d prefer it if he lied to you? What if he said he was busy and then you ran into him at the grocery store that day and figured out he wasn’t actually busy? Wouldn’t that have been way more awkward and upsetting than him being up front with you?

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Lo December 3, 2013 at 6:50 am

I can see how you’d feel hurt by the bluntness of this reply, as this is something you help organize and obviously it’s very important to you.

But he said nothing wrong. In fact if you look at it from his point of view, he said the best thing he could to make sure you didn’t waste any time trying to persuade him and that he would be free from invites ever again. Look at it this way, if he had brought a question to the this site along the lines of, “I have a friend who organizes a charity event but I don’t wish to support the charity. Should I make an excuse and say I can’t afford it or come up with another reason not to go. How do I keep from hurting my friend’s feelings?” A lot of people would respond along the lines of, “This is charity and not personal / it’s okay to say that you don’t support a certain charity / it’s no one’s business whether you can afford it or not / be direct or you’ll get invites every year / etc.”

I think the biggest error here in assumption is what you say here: “Or frankly, is $10 that big a deal when we are talking about helping needy children to have a Merry Christmas?”

Well, yes, $10 is a big deal when it could be going somewhere else. For all you know he might have spent many times that amount in a charity he personally supports. But even if he hasn’t, the idea that there is an amount of money that everyone should be able to give up to support your cause is a bit over the top. It’s not as if he’s denying a child a happy Christmas by not giving the $10 to your organization.

I think like admin said you are taking this much too personally.

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Yasuragi December 3, 2013 at 7:04 am

You can’t dictate what others do with their money. And you ought not guilt them into giving their money to a cause they do not support with the wobbly defense of “Well, it’s just ___ dollars!” Yes, it’s “just” ten dollars but it is their ten dollars . It doesn’t matter if they’re a ditch digger or Bill Gates. It’s their money and what they choose to do with it it not for you to say.

I think his response was appropriate. In one reply he conveyed that he would not be attending and he also made it clear that you don’t have to invite him in the following years.

I would also have my doubts about the integrity of a casual fundraiser with no one to answer to about how the cash is spent. I’ve volunteered before and questions about money can turn things real sour real fast.

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Rodinne December 3, 2013 at 7:10 am

Why would you want a lie? If you like to go out to a bar on Fridays after work, and one colleague consistently turns you down, would you prefer a lie that makes you think he doesn’t want to come with you ever, or would you prefer to be honestly told he doesn’t do bars? Knowing that maybe you’d consider switching it up with something he does do now and then, like bowling or a baseball game.

Just because your charity of choice does a nice thing doesn’t mean everything it does is nice. The KKK has a highway cleanup team (along the Rosa Parks Memorial Highway, which would be ironic except that the highway was renamed after the courts mandated the adoption be permitted). At Christmas, my money goes to Toys for Tots, a local group that organizes presents for needy children, another that does scarves and hats for the elderly, and our local food banks. It does not ever, ever, ever go to the Salvation Army. I know the Salvation Army does good things, but it also discriminates in ways I can’t condone, so I contribute to other groups that serve the same populations.

Several recent posts here have focused on the difference between social and business etiquette. As soon as you charge people to attend, your parties become a business function, no matter how many gifts you provide. Therefore the preference for a social white lie is moot. And you might want to consider reading Lying by Sam Harris, about the social cost if even small lies.

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Kirsten December 3, 2013 at 7:34 am

I don’t understand this bit here:
“Or frankly, is $10 that big a deal when we are talking about helping needy children to have a Merry Christmas? If it were a money issue, I would completely respect that response”

$10 is a big deal to a lot of people, yes. But I don’t really see why you would ‘respect’ him if he said he wasn’t coming because of the cost (which it doesn’t sound like you would, given your first sentence) but not when he admits he’s choosing not to support your charity. Both of these could be difficult things to admit to a friend. Then you say you ‘appreciate honesty’ but didn’t talk to him for some weeks when he was honest with you?

I will be honest with you from what I read here – I think you have ‘put off’ your friend by your reaction, which doesn’t show much charity or respect towards him, and I wonder if you don’t come over as being quite pushy. It’s a wonderful cause, it’s a wonderful idea, but ultimately you’re asking people to spend money, and when you do that, you simply have to accept that some of them don’t want to support what you do.

You asked a friend to spend $10 and buy his own drinks on a fundraiser. He declined. To not speak to him for weeks is just…yes, this really does surprise me and it really wasn’t nice of you.

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o_gal December 3, 2013 at 7:34 am

I agree with the admin. You say that it’s not “that big a deal when we are talking about helping needy children to have a Merry Christmas”. There are quite a few people who do not celebrate Christmas (Jehovah’s Witnesses are one set of people), and it is not up to you to determine what is a worthwhile charity to other people. He was polite in his response; you should have accepted it and not put any more thought into it.

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Dominic December 3, 2013 at 7:39 am

I fully agree with Admin that people are within their rights to choose whatever charities they wish, and in fact should be cautious in how they donate. But I think the invitee could have phrased his response better. To say that a charity is not one one believes in implies more judgment than is necessary. A better way to say it would have been simply, “No, thank you, I’m not interested.” Hopefully this “really loyal friend” just doesn’t have a good way with words. Faced with the unwelcome invitation, he should have declined politely, without the extra negative language.

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Abby December 3, 2013 at 8:01 am

That’s a tough one. I understand OP’s hurt feelings- I mean, who doesn’t believe in a program designed to help needy children? It does come across more like the friend is doubting OP’s judgment of how the funds should be allocated instead of doubting the actual idea, which is to help kids. While he is certainly entitled to his opinion, and can certainly choose to donate however he sees fit, it does seem a little confrontational to come right out and say so. I think I would be taken aback as well.

That being said, you do put your friends in an odd position when you are hitting them up for money, even if it’s for a good cause. Admin is right that you will probably need to grow thicker skin if this is an endeavor you will be continuing.

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HeartvsBrain December 3, 2013 at 8:11 am

I was in charge of fundraising in my office for the past two years. I stopped handling it because I was again and again upset by the lack of generosity and charity from people making 6 figures a year while I would happily donate to each event.

The fact is, we can’t make others care about what we care about. If your friends response was a true indicator of his nature, then I would presume you would no longer socialize with him. Did you overreact? Well its not like you told him you were offended. Everyone has their emotional responses. It’s not an “overreaction” unless its disrupting your life or the lives of those around you. It sounds like you were hurt/bothered by his seeming selfishness, he’s since shown you he’s your kind of people. I say let it go and move on.

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CaffeineKatie December 3, 2013 at 8:26 am

I would prefer my friends to be honest, in this case. That way you know not to invite them for this event in the future, and can focus on those willing to give for your fundraiser, and your friend won’t be put in the position of having to refuse to support something near and dear to your heart.

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SV December 3, 2013 at 8:33 am

Yes, you overreacted. I can see why though – this is an important even to you and support from your friends is meaningful. Here’s the thing though – maybe he had financial constraints and did not want to share that information with you. Maybe he strictly supports specific charities and did not want to add yours to the list. Maybe he did not believe in your charity, as he stated. It doesn’t really matter. When you put friendships on a financial level you have to be prepared to get strange responses. The best way to handle it is, ” Okay, thanks anyway! ” and move on.

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Stella December 3, 2013 at 8:40 am

I feel like the admin missed the point of the OP’s post? They made a point to say that if they’d made another excuse it would’ve been fine. The issue is, is it rude to say to the person hosting a charity, who no less is a friend of yours, that you don’t believe in her cause. This wasn’t about the person not wanting to give money – the OP points out she’s welcomed people who can’t donate. This was about her friend refusing to even show up, and not bothering to bean dip about it either. I just feel like the admin completely missed what the OP was asking. She’s asking if the friend’s way of declining was rude, in the context of their friendship.

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Stacey Frith-Smith December 3, 2013 at 8:48 am

His statement “the charity is not one that I believe in” is code for “if you want to buy for the needy then my opinion is that you should supply the funds as opposed to soliciting contributions from others”. Some aversion to such practices as “in lieu of flowers- a donation is requested to…”, “a contribution has been made in your name to…”, and even casual events where money is solicited for the needy exists, as you saw. I don’t think anyone could do a better job of organizing a nice event than the one you are describing- it may simply be that many will wonder why you don’t simply “pass the hat” among the interested and use those proceeds while sharing the project or pull what funding you can from your own budget.

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clairedelune December 3, 2013 at 9:01 am

I think the problem is here that you took the same offense you might take if you had received this as a response to an invitation to a purely social gathering, when this isn’t a really a social event, it’s a fundraiser.

I’m frankly a little confused about the nature of this event–adopting needy families is a great thing, but usually this is a personal activity, done under the auspices of an existing charity. It sounds like, in this case, you’re not hosting an event intended to raise money for the charity itself, but an event designed to get your friends to supplement your OWN charitable giving. You seem to have found a festive and fun way to do that, but it’s kind of an unusual setup, and maybe that’s why he bristled. He might also have perceived/bristled at your attitude of “is $10 that big a deal when…” It can be annoying when our friends act as if they’re entitled to determine how we spend our money.

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Allie December 3, 2013 at 9:06 am

I must say it does disturb me a little that he said it is not a charity he “believes in”. It makes me wonder whether he doesn’t believe needy families are deserving of help. Perhaps he feels they aren’t working hard enough or they should not have children if they can’t afford them. I, personally, would not want to be friends with someone who took that attitude. Also, given the “donation” of $10 (at that time) is very little and it sounds like you get a lot of merriment and goodies in return, I would have gone and paid the money to support you, my friend, regardless of what the charity was that you were trying to benefit. To me, that’s what a good friend does, rather than going around hurting his friends’ feelings with his brutal honesty. While he is certainly within his rights to decline to participate, I think he should have been more tactful and concealed the reason.

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Rebecca December 3, 2013 at 9:09 am

OP, I think that it’s very admirable to try to improve the lives of needy children. However, there could have been many reasons to decline, none of which are your business. It’s a shame he put it so bluntly, but I put my foot into my mouth in a very similar way once.

A coffee business here in Canada runs a “send a kid to camp” charity. Once, at a new job, their commercial came on the radio. I said to my then-boss that although I was sure that camp was a wonderful experience for the lucky children, it was a shame that a business with such scope and reach wasn’t focusing on things like feeding starving children, helping cure sick children, or rescuing trafficked children. That camp was nice, but it wasn’t necessary for survival, and that there were children in real need. My boss looked me dead in the eyes and told me that she took time off work and volunteered her time to that charity every year. I was extremely embarrassed. However, my feelings remain the same about it. I have no way of knowing why he’d say he didn’t “believe” in your charity, but it may be something along these lines. It doesn’t diminish the fact that you are a very caring person improving many lives.

One thing does bother me a little about your post. No matter what situation you believe a person is in, it’s never really up to you to decide whether $10 isn’t “a big deal” to give without knowing their full story. Even people who seem affluent can be financially drained by taking care of sick relatives, student debt, an unexpected plumbing disaster at their house… anything. There are times in our lives when giving any amount of money is giving too much money. You can’t know, so you can’t judge.

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Anonymous December 3, 2013 at 9:10 am

I agree with Jeanne. Not everyone can afford to give to multiple charities (or even one charity) at Christmas/holiday time, people have their own families to buy for, and some people would rather donate to a developing country where people are living in slums and drinking contaminated water, than buy Christmas gifts for a North American child who may be “less fortunate” by First World standards, but in the big picture, has it pretty good. Also, there have been instances of parents in low-income families hocking Junior’s Christmas Playstation to pay the electric bill, etc., so some people feel it’s just best to stay away from the whole thing, or select a gift themselves for one of those kinds of charities that can’t be pawned. For example, I’ve volunteered my time packing boxes/bags for charities like this, and the one item that invariably runs out every year, is paper and crayons. For some reason, that’s just not a hugely popular item to give.

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Elizabeth December 3, 2013 at 9:15 am

I think you are being judgmental, along the lines of ‘how dare he not think my charity is worthy.’ This person may support different charities or may support a like one already. Some may prefer to directly dontate to a nonprofit and take the tax write-off. It really isn’t for you to analyze. He declined and he shouldn’t be judged, even if the requested $10 doesn’t seem like a lot to you.

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Enna December 3, 2013 at 9:19 am

Was this person rude? If he was then that could be why the OP was upset. Yes people do have the right to donate money to causes they see fit to do so. I am also a bit concerned that is reposne was “he doesn’t believe in it” – why not? Is it because it’s not an offical event endorsed by an offical charity or is he judgemental about needy families? OP I think honesty is the best policy and expecting your firends to lie to you to spare your feelings could back fire – you might be more hurt if he did lie to you!

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Elizabeth December 3, 2013 at 9:19 am

Heartvsbrain, you’ve no idea how these people donate their time and money outside of the office. You only know that you were not receiving what you thought they should be giving. For all you know, these high-wage earners routinely donate 50% of their income to their charity of choice … it just didn’t happen to be the one you were managing in the office.

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Whodunit December 3, 2013 at 9:28 am

OP – yes I would have been a little wounded too — what he said was he did not believe in helping the needy — contrary to admin’s belief and several other posters he did NOT say he couldn’t fund it. 9ir he had already funded everything he chose to fund for the year- he said he did not believe in it! It wound hurt too but I would blow it off. Maybe later I wound have a better discussion with him as to why — only to ascertain if our ideologies and philosophies matched enough to continue our relationship.

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Kathryn December 3, 2013 at 9:34 am

The comments are starting to lean in to where I am a little “bristled”, which is that you are inviting people to a party to which they must RSVP, thereby putting a lot of people on the spot. To me it’s like the POS charity push at the drugstore. You are buying your Midol or whatever and the cashier asks you if you’d like to give a dollar to XYZ? and you feel like a heel saying no. It’s “only” a dollar, right? And it stings when you have to audibly say “no” to a plea for help, so I resent the request. Sometimes the charities for which they are soliciting are ones to which I already contribute (or contribute to in-kind charities) and I am torn between just saying no and moving on or explaining that no, I don’t want to buy gum for soldiers overseas (adding to the company’s bottom line) because I donate cold hard cash to other US Veteran organizations, which have been fully vetted by me and/or my husband.

So as I ramble, my point is this: I would likely decline your “invitation”, too, no matter how close we are. If I want to serve a needy family or needy child, I will do so on my own terms and with my own money and for my own private satisfaction of serving my fellow citizens. I would suggest that in order to keep people like me, and your friend, from hurting your feelings in the future you offer the event but refrain from calling it an “invitation” which implies that you will need an attendance response. And invitation, in my opinion, is defined as extension of hospitality, which this is not. This is a business transaction, even if it is for a charitable cause.

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clairedelune December 3, 2013 at 9:44 am

@Allie–it could be that he’s a total Scrooge about things like this, but it might also just be that he doesn’t believe in the way this *particular* charity conducts their work or does their community outreach or whatever.

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Lindsay December 3, 2013 at 9:52 am

You are absolutely allowed to speak your mind on a charity, especially if someone is soliciting your time or money. I will not donate to Salvation Army or to Komen, and let people know why I choose to not support them. Perhaps if they see my reasoning, they will pick a different charity next time. I tend to even suggest others. I don’t think this is rude, and repeatedly, I’ve had people tell me they didn’t know a certain organization did certain things with donated money. Knowledge is power. If you can’t handle that, stay out of the non profit sector.

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KMC December 3, 2013 at 10:09 am

I also agree with the Admin on this one.

There are charities to which I will not donate. To an outsider this may make me seem cold because they don’t understand how I can choose not to donate to a charity which provides something good for someone in need. The reasons I choose not to donate usually have to do with how much money actually goes toward providing those needs or it sometimes has to do with an organization’s policies. I’m usually not as forthcoming as the OP’s friend, though. I’ll say “Not at this time.” or something non-commital.

I seek out charities which match my personal “requirements” for the use of resources and policies. Or I find a way to give personally.

Just because your friend chooses not to give to your charity does not mean he chooses not to give.

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MichelleP December 3, 2013 at 10:20 am

Totally agree with admin. I simply don’t have the money to donate to every friend “raising money” for needy people, and every charity that asks. This is not a group of friends hanging out, it is a request to give money. How does the friend know that the money he is giving is getting to where it’s supposed to go? I’m not suggesting that the OP isn’t doing what he/she is claiming to do, but I’ve been burned more than once by giving and buying and it turned out it wasn’t going where it was supposed to. The OP is confusing friendship with giving.

@Allie, I’m glad you have the option to give to friends, and that amount of money is “very little” to you, but not everyone has that same circumstance. No, a “good friend” does not necessarily give money to someone who asks to support unknown people, and a “good friend” does not “conceal” why not if he doesn’t. You are also making an assumption that the friend doesn’t believe that needy families deserve help. That may not be the case.

Not to open a can of worms here, but there are plenty of people who do believe that if people can’t afford kids they shouldn’t have them, and I’m one of them. I’ve fallen on hard times myself in the past, and needed help, but I helped myself also and did what I had to do to make sure it didn’t happen again.

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English1 December 3, 2013 at 10:25 am

Probably a bit pointless piling on, but I agree with the other posters.

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ALM December 3, 2013 at 10:27 am

@ Allie:

He said it wasn’t a ‘charity’ he believes in, not that it was a ’cause’ he doesn’t believe in. It may well be that he thinks his funds would be better spent by a professional charity and not at a dinner his friend put on that has it’s own associated costs before it’s even used for it’s intended purpose. Perhaps it’s a nice way of saying ‘your money management skills are lacking.’ Hardly brutal honesty.

Alternatively, the cause is the issue, and no matter how it is dressed up in ribbons, bows and holiday cheer, it does not make him bad person to not want to give to this particular cause. Perhaps her arguably believes that holiday gifts to the needy are a bandaid measure that makes richer people feel good about themselves because the poor kids got a Christmas gift, but are still food insecure, at risk of eviction, and getting poor health care the rest of the year. How dare he not want to give them toys and a nice Christmas, and darn it, these people should be grateful for the OP’s once a year charity and cheer.

Kind of makes the OP’s charity seem disturbing, doesn’t it?

The point is he can have any number of reasons for not supporting a particular charity and unless he comes out and says ‘poor people should suffer’ there is nothing disturbing about not wanting to throw your money at anyone just because they pressure you to and pull out the ‘think of the children/poor people’ card. He owes nothing, and it does not reflect badly on him to refuse.

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nk December 3, 2013 at 10:37 am

The way he phrased it–that it isn’t a charity he “believes in”–leads me to think that maybe he doesn’t celebrate Christmas, and “helping needy children have a Merry Christmas” would violate his religious beliefs. It’s not like he’s refusing to help you feed or clothe needy children. Celebrating a holiday that not everybody celebrates isn’t a vital need. And even if it were, he still wouldn’t be obligated to donate to your charity or attend your fundraiser, because no matter what the amount of money in question is, it’s his money and it’s his choice how he spends it.

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English1 December 3, 2013 at 10:39 am

I don’t think anyone should be expected to lie about not wanting to support a specific charity or charitable event. I wouldn’t be all that supportive of this either, for the following reasons (which may or may not have anything to do with the friend’s reasons)

1) I would be thinking, ok, the party raised $1000 – but how much did all that food and drink and raffle prizes and going home presents and so on cost? Would the charity have benefited more from a direct donation of those costs? But then I get the point that if the event wasn’t held, those people wouldn’t be handing over $20 to the charity in all likeliness. I just don’t personally like feeling I need a bribe/reward to give to charity. I’d be mentally totting up the cost of what I received and assuming the charity would only get the bit left over. so if I’ve handed over $20 and $10 went on costs, I’d sooner just give the charity $20.
2) I don’t know if this is done through a proper registered charity or not. I would like to know there are financial safeguards in place when running organised fundraising events. This is too big for an informal thing.
3) If it was a church led thing, I’m out. Not demeaning what churches do, but I support secular charities, on the whole. Although I did just donate stuff to a local foodbank that was coordinated by a church but run via a national system and in cooperation with local authorities, social services, health associations etc. Great organisation, great audit trail, no religion involved in the foodbank, open to all referred by professionals.
4) How are these families selected for help? Why them and not others? Why are they in that situation? (yes, if I’m giving people charity, I want to know why. ‘needy’ is too vague. My son used to be offered a place every year on a charitable day out for underprivileged children event, solely based on where we lived. We weren’t underprivileged at all. I always turned it down. Quite a few kids went who didn’t need it). Not having lots of Christmas presents is such a first world problem.
5) How effective is it to help individual families? Would it be better to fundraise for local service providers?
6) I’d rather spend my money saving a kids life. I regularly donate to a clean water project. That’s what I want to spend my charity money on. No one else has the right to say I should take $10 from that and give it to something else. ‘It’s only $10′? is inane. I could list 1000 very very worthy causes and they could all do with $10 from the OP. OP, it’s only $10, I think all those 1000 deserve it and you are mean not to support them. So hand over $10,000.

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Huh December 3, 2013 at 10:50 am

@Kathryn: I’m glad I’m not the only one who doesn’t like being put on the spot about donations at stores. Especially around the holiday season, it seems like every single store I go to – the pet supply store, the drug store, the grocery store, any shops, is collecting for SOMETHING or has the red buckets right outside. Or sometimes both. And there is no way I can donate to every single one as I go about my day-to-day business, even if it is only a dollar, and yet I do feel bad saying no when asked. And yes I do donate, just not every single time I’m asked and I tend to rotate, this time to the humane society, next week to toys for tots, etc. And I do donations all year-long.

I remind myself that when I worked a store that had to ask “Would you like to donate $1 to XYZ?” during the holidays, I never cared one way or the other if they donated. So it’s highly unlikely the cashier currently asking does either.

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MsDani313 December 3, 2013 at 10:53 am

Just because you are friends with someone does not mean that they have to support every cause you support. OP, your friend may donate his money and/or time in other ways. He may not have had the $10. And you said it yourself, “…it’s only $10…”. For some $10 is a week’s worth of dinner. For some that is a few more diapers for their baby. If I were to donate to every cause my friends donate to I would be unable to pay my bills. I choose the charities I donate to based on their mission and how much of their money actually reaches the cause. Now trust I am not a “they need to pull themselves up by their boot straps” type because there are too many around without boots. I help where I can but I do not feel bad when I say no to the cashier who asks for a donation to a charity. I am the only one working for my paycheck so I am the one who decides how it should be spent.

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denise miller December 3, 2013 at 10:57 am

I prefer his honesty. And I wouldn’t judge him based on what charities he does and does not support.

Really, I would wonder if his honesty is at least in part due to excessive invitations for the same event?

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Colleen December 3, 2013 at 10:59 am

Allie, I think you are making a giant leap. It is entirely possible it is *that* charity he doesn’t believe in. For example there is a food bank here that is so poorly managed that I cringe every time there is another article in the paper about how close they are to closing their doors. Honestly, I would never donate there because of that. But I absolutely donate to other, better run food pantries and drives for those pantries. In addition, I have donated my time and money to the North Texas Food Bank.

To make assumptions about someone’s character based on their decision to donate or not to a particular charity is fool-hardy IMO.

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acr December 3, 2013 at 11:08 am

“Or frankly, is $10 that big a deal when we are talking about helping needy children to have a Merry Christmas?”

OP, when you said that, you lost all sympathy you might have had from me. This charity may be your baby, you pet project, but everyone has the right to spend their money how they choose, and donate to what charities they choose. I wonder if you are pushy and your friend pushed back?

I will also say, I find the nature of your event sort of off putting. Every year you and a friend solicit your friends for $20 for a ticket? That’s just really distasteful to me. I would probably say something like your friend did so you would know that I don’t care for the nature of your event and I don’t want to be asked again.

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The Elf December 3, 2013 at 11:11 am

Total overreaction, though I agree the friend could have responded with a more bland reply. “I’m sorry; I have plans and will be unable to make it” is just fine. No need to specify that your plans involved your jammies and a good movie! But the fact is that not everyone supports your specific charity and people may have other priorities. I prefer to donate to animal-related charities. I would probably throw in the $20 for needy families at Christmas, but it isn’t my first choice for where my charity dollar goes.

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Cat December 3, 2013 at 11:12 am

I am afraid I might have given you the same response. When I give to charity, I prefer to choose both the charity and the amount I donate.
With Anonymous, I support a child in a third world country. His supervisor in India wrote me to tell me about what the lad had bought with his Christmas money (He was a Hindu so it was really just December money). He had bought a bed (a cot) so he no longer had to sleep on the floor. To his child’s mind, this was a sign of great wealth and comfort.
We don’t realize the vast difference in the standard of living between our lives here and how most of the world lives. I cannot imagine having to tell a child he cannot attend school, have something to eat today or allowing him to die because there is no money for a doctor.
I also buy turkeys for the American poor at holidays; I donate food for the poor in this country throughout the year; and I participate in the Angel Tree program at my church. It’s not that I would not give you ten dollars for the poor. I just prefer to choose the poor to whom I wish to give it.

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EllenS December 3, 2013 at 11:17 am

OP, I can understand why your friend’s statement could sound like a personal criticism. To say that “the charity is not one I believe in” does in fact carry some implied rejection of your values, or of the way you are handling the setup/adminstration.
However, while your feelings are understandable, I do think you over-reacted by not speaking to your friend for several weeks (if you would otherwise have done so). I also think it is misguided to focus on the amount of money involved.
Any amount of money is too much, if it is going to a cause you do not support. Perhaps this person does not celebrate Christmas? Many people do not. Or perhaps he donates all his charitable dollars to some other cause for kids he sees as more pressing. I can certainly understand someone comparing, say, vaccinations or clean water in third world countries and thinking that stuffed animals for US kids is not really a necessity.
I think if you are going to run a charitable fundraiser, it is your responsibility to separate the charity from personal relationships. Otherwise, you will be relying on guilt and relational pressure to force people to give – which is the opposite of charity.

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The Elf December 3, 2013 at 11:20 am

Kathryn, that cashier solicitation is one of my personal pet peeves. I don’t like the “hard sell” – doesn’t matter if it is cars, technology, or a charity. So now I categorically say no. One time at the pet store, they were collecting for Greyhound rescue. This is something I have directly supported on a regular basis, and I still said no. I felt like a heel at first, but now it doesn’t bother me. If I really like the charity, I make a point of donating to them outside of the store. I don’t like the soliciation at work, either. If someone puts out a food bin or something, I’ll probably donate. But if someone *pushes* me to do it – especially if they are tracking who has and who hasn’t! – my hackles go up. I wouldn’t mind if a friend wants to host a charity fundraiser, because I can choose whether or not to go and I know going is contingent on donating. I also don’t mind the occasional notification from a friend that they’re doing some charity fun run and are looking for sponsors. But all of that is a “light touch”. The minute that friend goes into active solicitations and pressure, I turn them down.

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Harley Granny December 3, 2013 at 11:31 am

Not to harp…and not wanting to write a tomb…..I agree with the majority and altho I wouldn’t like his answer I would appreciate his honesty. My friends and I don’t agree on everything and it’s OK.

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Dee December 3, 2013 at 11:32 am

Clairdelune hit the nail on the head when she said that this is not a social event at all. OP, you are looking to make a business transaction off your friends, and this may not sit well with them (obviously). You were also very ambiguous with your assertions that “a good friend and I adopt …” and “we provide …” when what you are actually doing is shaking down your friends and then taking the credit for what their money is purchasing. Not good. If you really want to support your charity why don’t you, and your good friend, just do it yourself? Surely you can advertise your activities and goals in that regard to your other friends and if any of them feel inspired they can offer to help. But guilting them into giving under the guise of a “party” is a sure way to inspire uneasiness and hesitation amongst those who would call you friend. They may think twice about any invitation from you, even ones that don’t revolve around funding your charity, and is that what you really want?

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Ashley December 3, 2013 at 11:40 am

“Or frankly, is $10 that big a deal when we are talking about helping needy children to have a Merry Christmas? If it were a money issue, I would completely respect that response” <—- Glad I'm not the only one who realized the contradiction there.

Plus, I feel like if he had said "I'm busy that evening" and then OP had found out he had just gone to a bar to go drinking with his buddies or something, we would have been reading a question about how "He cares more about drinking with his buddies than helping needy children.

I frankly prefer the brutal honesty. That way in the future I know it's not an invite he's going to accept and it saves time all around. I'll invite him to other non charity functions and we'll have a grand ol' time then

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just4kicks December 3, 2013 at 11:43 am

My father has been fighting MS for close to a decade. We have four children at home and money is often very tight. I have been asked to donate to other charities quite often, and I always politely answer that I have certain charities (when money is available) that my family donates to. MS research is one and in really good financial times, St. Judes Children’s hospital is the other, because we think they do amazing work. Most times, that answer is acceptable to the asker. Other times, it’s met with curiosity…”Oh, which charities do you endorse?” Sometimes, I’m treated downright rudely and with animosity, which flabbergasts me. “MS ?!? St. Jude’ s?!? YOU CAN’T BE SERIOUS!!!!!” At which point the conversation ends abruptly. Once or twice, I’ve been railed so hard and rudely, I’ve replied (also rudely, on my part) “Sir/Madam….if I hit the lottery today for millions of dollars, yours would be the LAST charity I would donate to!!!”
People have their reasons, and most of them are private and personal.

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Abby December 3, 2013 at 11:49 am

I think the main issue here is not whether the friend was a jerk for not donating, but whether the OP is justified that her feelings were hurt.

The thing with hurt feelings is, you can’t control them. If the OP was hurt by her friend’s extremely blunt reason for declining to attend, that is something out of her control. You could argue that avoiding any communication with him for a few weeks was overreacting, but it sounds like the OP is willing to see that now.

I understand why the friend was blunt- he does not wish to make up a different excuse every year about why he is not going, and there aren’t too many nice ways to phrase that. If it was truly a matter of him not liking the concept of Toys for Tots (ie, he feels the existing organization has some sort of fundamental flaws, or he just feels like toys are not a necessity and he would rather donate to charities providing other services, as some posters suggested) I think it would have been a kindness on his part to explain that to OP, so she doesn’t take it so personally or assume that he is thinking she can’t be trusted with the money. He doesn’t *have* to explain himself, but I would think most people would want to not hurt their friends’ feelings and would choose to explain.

OP, in all fairness, what you’re doing is unusual and it may make people uneasy. As long as you’re not pocketing the funds and having people buy raffle tickets under false pretenses, you’re not doing anything wrong, but you will need to brace yourself for rejection and not take it personally.

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FarrahH December 3, 2013 at 11:55 am

I’m wondering if the friend had said he had other plans that night, if the OP would have asked him to donate money anyway? That has happened with some events I’ve been invited to and declined. Perhaps that’s why he said he didn’t support the charity rather than making up a white lie about not being able to attend the event.

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clairedelune December 3, 2013 at 12:03 pm

@Kathryn–Oh, this is a particular pet peeve of mine, too–I have to do lots of shopping at big retailers for my office, and often when I’m at the cash register it’s my company’s money I’m spending, not my own. So I’m in no position to choose to donate a dollar for whatever, but I still feel like a heel every time I have to say “no, not today!”

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jd December 3, 2013 at 12:17 pm

I have to agree with many here — the friend was perhaps too blunt to the point of a bit of rudeness, but this was not a social event but a fundraiser, and he was no doubt trying to both refuse and forestall future invitations. I have no idea what he meant by not believing in it, but not knowing the details, all I can say is that I would have probably, out of deference to a friend’s feelings, worded my refusal a little more tactfully, such as saying that I already support several charities and can’t take on any more (which would be true.) I do think not speaking with him for a while was an overreaction.
This is such a sore subject with me, because I support charities that I’ve investigated carefully — including my own church –as much as I can, so I detest being asked to add more and more to my list. I will make the decision of whom I will support and when, meaning I’ve had to turn down very dear people who asked for my support to some worthy causes, but I have limits on my funds, and must make my choices carefully.

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Kara December 3, 2013 at 12:18 pm

OP, here is the problem that I have with what you are doing… you are asking your friends and relatives to fund your own charitable giving!

I also “adopt” a family for Christmas, and know a lot of people who also “adopt” families (through a variety of local religious and secular charities) and we buy our “adopted” families presents and sometimes also food for a good Christmas dinner. And exactly NONE of us have ever hit up friends and relatives for money for our “adopted” families!

Frankly, I am kind of flabbergasted at your gall. And I am with your friend. Your kind of “charity” is not one that I “believe in” at all.

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Lees December 3, 2013 at 12:22 pm

One of my pet peeves is the expectation that everyone wants to support a specific charity. In Canada, there is a large charity organization that almost every large corporation (mine included) supports. This charity goes to corporations every year, finds out what salaries they pay their employees and then says “you should raise this much.” Whether it is because a corporation is afraid of being called out for not participating, or a herd mentality, it seems that all corporations run a huge X Charity fundraising campaign around Christmas. I do not support this charity for a number of reasons and it bothers me that I am expected to donate anyway. Every year, my company sends emails, voicemails and letters reminding me that I have not yet donated. My department also runs fundraising events, from lunches to raffles, and I am expected to give them money for X charity. As much as it bothers me, I have learned to ignore the reminders, but I do not hesitate to tell fundraisers from my department why I will not donate when they do not take “no” for an answer. If they weren’t so persistent, I would probably beg off with a vague excuse, but at some point, you have to be honest.

The OP clearly believes very strongly in her charity, but it is rude to expect others to have the same belief. I have very specific charities that I donate to and my standards are quite high. I want to know what their financial statements look like, how much actually goes to the people/cause that the charity supports and how much goes to paying salaries and fundraising. Charitable giving is a very personal decision and I think everyone should respect others’ opinions and feelings in this regard.

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