Career Advice

Always Help a Friend’s Cause

9 Mar 2016  

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.

It isn’t easy asking for donations.

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.

If you don’t ask, you won’t receive.

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.

Donations are powerful.

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.

4 Responses

  1. Gabe Ottolini says:

    Great post! Another insight that you and Claire certainly lived is that – above all else people give to people.

    There are many great causes and certainly people donate to specific organizations/issues, but it’s hard to beat a personal ask.

  2. bbosha says:

    My husband own a retail shop and he is alway so happy to donate to a local cause, it bring in customers and makes customers feel good too. He also decided to put some items that are not selling with a sign, “help yourself, donate what you like” to the Kolbe Fund (a fund that helps the overflow from the Ronald McDonald House, Philadelphia). He just received thank you letter for donating over $4500 in 2 years. Our country is full of generous people, you are right, we just a have to ask.

  3. Kathy Kraas says:

    Thank you for this blog post. You are absolutely correct that asking for a gift makes us feel vulnerable, and it also increases our humility. And yes, if we are open to giving something when asked, we help make it easier for other to ask as well. Thank you for exposing Claire to this opportunity to participate in Amigos de las Americas. I hope she enjoys her to Panama and returns with many insights on life in other places away from home. She’s a lucky girl to have such wonderful parents.
    Kathy Kraas

  4. emitahill says:

    SO true, so accurate, and I’ve done heaps of fundraising for good causes but still get cold feet making the live ask. So much easier to write proposals than to come right out and ask. But you are right: everybody feels good and it’s not that difficult if you already have a good relationship.

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