This week my daughter Claire and I have been asking local businesses to donate items for an upcoming silent auction event. In June, Claire will head to Panama on a service project with Amigos de Las Americas, a non-profit group that brings volunteer opportunities to high school and college students. To support the trip, the organization is holding a fundraiser in a couple weeks.
So how has it been going? Fabulous.
We started with Farm Bar, a cute restaurant near our house that serves locally-sourced (and delicious) food. We go there a lot. Sean, the manager, donated a gift certificate.
Then we went to Pizza Serio, another excellent restaurant near our house. We also go there often. Sara chipped in a gift certificate, as well.
Dino at Gyros on the Spit donated, as did Billy from The Gage, a terrific restaurant in downtown Chicago. The list goes on.
So far, every establishment we’ve approached has given us something. I’ve taken three lessons from the experience.
Claire and I had to get ourselves fired up before each visit. I’m not entirely sure why, but we felt nervous and uncertain. The act of asking for something made us feel vulnerable. Even when we realized there was little downside, it was still a challenging moment. This is an important insight.
Every place we asked donated something to the cause. Every place that we didn’t ask, didn’t. Simply asking for help is an important step.
Each gift was exciting, and each one made us feel better about the establishment that gave it. We love Farm Bar, Pizza Serio, Gyros on the Spit, The Gage, and all the other donors. We feel a bit in their debt; they came through for us. We will work very hard to support them in the future with our business and recommendations.
When someone asks you for a donation, always contribute. Even if what you have to give seems small, give something.
Saying yes creates enormous value. The recipient is happy and feels good about you and your organization. You also feel good, because you’ve helped a worthy cause. This is how relationships build.
If you decline to contribute, however, the relationship weakens. It was difficult for the person to ask you, and in their moment of vulnerability you turned away. It can send the message that you don’t care.
If someone asks you for a donation, they’re giving you an opportunity. It is a chance to build a relationship and to show that they are important and that the relationship matters. Never miss the chance; you should always help.