Ask Amy: Small business owners are overwhelmed with fundraising requests
The Covid years saw our complete shutdown (as per government mandates) and the complete standstill of our business. The tourists who used to be our main guests/buyers have not returned since Covid.
We are constantly approached by local businesses and non-profit organizations looking for donations and sponsorships. These include schools asking for donations to raffles, museums asking for triple-digit donations for their fundraisers, nonprofits raising money for good causes, local theaters and newspapers asking us to buy ads (“for just $275 -dollars per week”), and more.
We’ve always supported them where we could, including gift certificates for our shop, but now I’m overwhelmed. Some days I choose to buy food or gas for my car so I can drive to my other job.
Our business account is empty and I just can’t cry when asked for donations. They follow up on phone calls and then respond in person and via email, copying others into those emails, making it appear that we are a non-charitable organization.
Some of the questioners even comment that we are in “this town” and therefore need the money and resources to donate. How do I react to these people? I’ve always been taught to “never complain, never explain” and I don’t know how to tell them I’d like to donate, but we just can’t.
We hope to keep our store going for a few more years while our business recovers from the pandemic, but I’m also concerned that we will lose the respect of community members who think we’re narrow-minded and not-for-profit. your advice?
Concerned: My advice is to formulate a simple, honest and polite written response: “As our business continues to recover after our long shutdown during the pandemic, we feel unable to donate to your very good cause. We hope to see you in store soon.”
I hope your reputational fears are an exaggerated reaction to your affluent environment. You should expect other local family businesses to be strained as well. (As you network with others at a small business local area network association, you can see that you are not alone.)
Keep in mind that the people making these requests probably don’t know that their request is the fifth you’ve received this week. A quick, respectful and definitive “Sorry – we’re busy, so not this year” should get them on their way.
Hold on. You’re not alone.
Dear Amy: I live with my daughter and son-in-law in my own private quarters that I paid for them to build. My area is about a third of the house.
I try to give them their space and live independently in my unit, which is connected to their two-story house by a hallway. We are a loving family and I have a perfect son in law.
I explained that I would pay a third of the utilities, which includes heating, air conditioning, and garbage collection. I am retired and living on social security. They are full-time successful business people.
My daughter thinks I should pay half of the utilities. Admittedly, I don’t suffer and use the warmth and air for my well-being. Old people don’t like to shake all winter or sweat all summer. Is it fair to split the cost 50/50 or should we pay based on our profitability?
Cool customer: No, it doesn’t seem fair to split the cost of these utilities 50/50. It also doesn’t seem fair to pay utilities based on your income.
The obvious solution (to me) is that since you occupy a third of the space and are a third of the residents, you pay a third of the utilities. You could consider installing a door between your unit and their house (for energy saving reasons) and maybe installing a separate meter for your unit.
Dear Amy: “organizer with a problem‘ expressed extreme frustration at how her ‘politically based affinity group’ had turned into dysfunction. You must use Robert’s Rules of Procedure: Submit a motion, discuss, then vote. This will keep the minority from ruling the group.
Was there: I vote “aye!”
© 2023 by Amy Dickinson. Distributed by the Tribune Content Agency.