Every day we must get a dozen different requests to supply a raffle prize or donation to a different charity; every week we donate at least a days takings worth of such prizes, but because we are a business with our own many bills to pay as well, we do have to draw the line somewhere and sometimes say 'no' - we literally couldn't afford to give away something to everyone who asked; the business would go under within a couple of weeks if we did.
How do we choose which charities we will be supporting? That's easy. If the person wanting the donation makes the effort to come into the shop, speaks to us and it's for a local charity (we do support national charities if the money raised will also help local people - however, there is one national charity that I will point blankedly refuse to donate anything to and they get told when they ask "no" along with my reasons why, which I won't share on here) then we will always try to do something. When I say local, I mean within a short radius; I wouldn't choose to donate something to a pub quiz down in the New Forest as we often give a voucher for a free bouquet, and it would be pointless when the person that wins then has to make the journey here.
Please note though the emphasis is on the person requesting a donation actually making the effort to come into the shop and speak to me. So many people walk in, pop a letter on the counter (or pass it to me) then walk out again without a single word spoken to me. Others just pop the letter through the letterbox and walk away. By keeping to this rule I am also able to tell people who phone and say "We phoned you a few months ago and you agreed to sponsor us X amount of pounds (usually in the low hundreds)" that I never agreed to any such thing - sadly these people are usually scam artists - but by keeping to my rule of only donating to those that come into the shop, I am able to categorically state I never agreed to donate anything via the telephone.
So many requests I get are in letter form, for charities that don't operate in our area; another batch are just addressed to "The business owner". This straight away puts me off. If someone wants me to give up money that could be used to reduce the amount we have to pay the bank manager, then I feel they should at least try to find out who the business owner is. Let's face it, they've taken the time to find the business name and address on the internet to begin with to ask us for money or goods, so it would then be easy enough to find out my name to address it to - this probably wouldn't alter my decision (never say never), but it would be good practice and manners to try to make the effort.
Mind you, at least those that write have made a bit more of an effort than those that send out a mailshot email to numerous businesses - and then cc that email with everyone's email address on display (we end up with more spam in our inbox when people do that as the people that are being emailed aren't always a genuine business). This is a complete no-no to me. As with letters, it has been known on more than occasion that those requesting goods/donations aren't genuine and actually just want whatever is donated to sell on; they then pocket the money themselves, which is another reason I like to see the people that are requesting anything from us for free. I also make a point of checking out the charity they are collecting for is genuine, and have been known from time to time to contact the charity to check out the person that is making the request on their behalf - sadly we live in very unscrupulous times, and it's very hard to trust everybody.
There are also some people that will tell me my local competition has donated X,Y and Z to them, then ask what will I be donating? Trying to play one business off against the other is totally unacceptable and will always result in a "no" to the request. We don't get involved in play offs, as was proved just recently when we donated goods and prizes for something to raise money, when other businesses were charging for what we were giving away - one of them did claim they would hand the money they took over to the charity. These others businesses then made a point of getting their names in the papers (and I think one was on a tv news channel) so they got some great advertising out of their *good deed*. We kept to ourselves and never let on to anyone that we had handed over our services for free, because it's not about gaining ourselves advertising, and we certainly wouldn't want to make money from a project that is desperate for all the money they can get their hands on. It's a bit like Christmas. You don't give to receive; you give to make a difference to someone other than yourself. I never take payment for the demonstrations I get asked to do on a regular basis, and the workshops I teach at, but I do ask the organisations who offer me payment for my time to make a donation to charity instead. I don't publicize this because when it comes to raising money for good causes, it's not about what I can get out of it, it's about what I can do to help that good cause raise as much as possible.
My rules on charities may seem harsh to some of you, but without them I wouldn't have a business left for people to ask for donations. As long as you make the effort with me if you want something, I will do all I can for you. It's that simple.