Do You Get Annoyed When People Expect a Donation?

Updated on November 17, 2011
A.G. asks from Royal Oak, MI
20 answers

I feel like I am a fairly generous person. A couple years ago we had a pretty big Christmas, almost embarrassing. It was our first Christmas as a "dual income" family and we were celebrating. For the previous couple years while I was in graduate school we had $50 budgets for each other, we never buy presents for Valentines Day or Sweetest Day, have never bought gifts for each other for our anniversary and birthdays have been minimal too. My daughters 1st birthday my husband had just been laid off and I was not working (full time unpaid internship) so she had a small party at my Aunts house. So anyway, when we finally had money we went a little crazy. I "adopted" a child through the Salvation Army to buy Christmas presents for that year and spend about $250 on clothes and toys for the boy. We give money at church when we can. I work for a non-profit agency and I try to donate things when a family is in need. When I was only working 4 days a week I volunteered the other day while my kids were in daycare. So I try to do what I can with what I have. Our financial situation is different now since we moved and we aren't doing as well as we were before but we make enough to provide everything our family needs and a lot of what we want. Getting to the point, I feel like some people or organizations expect people to donate and it bothers me. I love going to church but I feel like every time I turn around there is another "campaign" for money. I can't even pay my student loans right now and I feel guilty going to church if I can't "give" but then I feel guilty for not going. I got an email from my children's daycare today. They are having a Thanksgiving lunch for family members next week. They are only allowing 1 family member per child and they sent home "reservation slips" last week. Today they sent an email and it said: "This year we will be collecting Toys for Tots and non perishable food items for Gleaner’s Food Bank. Please plan to help kick off this effort and bring a canned good or toy with you when you come to lunch. We are asking each and every guest to participate. For your convenience, we will accept a cash donation and purchase the items on your behalf." I am so annoyed by this!! I am happy to donate canned goods to different places every year and donate to toys for tots every year but for it to be expected seems rude. Am I reading this wrong? What if a family already turned in their slip saying that they are coming to the lunch but cannot afford to donate any additional food or toys?

Note: I am not going to the lunch because I have to work. Donating a canned good is not the issue, it's the fact that after they collected dozens of rsvp's, there is now a "price" that is expected to attend.

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So What Happened?

Thank you for all of your responses!! I know that ramon noodles and canned foods (especially veggies) are rather inexpensive and I could provide several things for only a couple dollars, that's not really the point. The point is that they put flyers in everyone's mailbox inviting them to a family lunch, collected dozens of RSVP's, then sent out an email that was in poor taste I believe. I know that many places this time of year offer different things "free" with donation of a canned good and I feel that is completely wonderful and acceptable if presented in the correct manner (i.e., free movie ticket with donation of 5 canned goods. Not free movie, then when you get there, oh by the way...). My daycare provider collects for about 8 charities that I can think of so far in the 9 months that we have been there. It seems like every month there is something else they are hitting us up for. I donate when I can and usually then just have donation cans or boxes available, no expectations, no rude emails. That's why I was so surprised by this email. I will probably donate to both those charities this year but after the email I doubt it will be through the daycare. I know that charities need donations. Personally I would prefer that our daycare choose maybe no more than 3 charities throughout the whole year to fully support rather than 1 a month. They also have "fundraisers" (4 so far in the 9 months we've been there) with no explanation as to why they are raising money. Like the candy sales and wreath sales, no explanation, it's just a fundraiser. So like I said, I can't go to the lunch because I have to work; I will most likely donate canned goods and a toy somewhere but probably not through the daycare and they will have my support with fundraiser when I know what they are raising money for (assuming it's a good reason). Thanks again Momma's!!

Featured Answers



answers from Seattle on

Something similar happened in my life when I was feeling my oats. So I asked to speak to the person in charge and asked them if they knew how many families they were soliciting food for the food bank were GETTING food from the food bank?

Her jaw dropped.

Then ya might not want to make it mandatory.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Lincoln on

I think that w/out the PR and getting the word out that many of these organizations would not be getting as many donations. Advertising and going through schools and different organizations is a way to get the items they need. We see this everywhere: cans at the store, asking to donate a dollar when we pay, on the radio, people collecting, etc. I don't think anyone is trying to guilt anyone else I think it's just a matter of advertising.

I like what Dawn B. said that you shouldn't feel obliged to donate to everything. Different people have different experiences that make some charities and organizations more meaningful than others.


3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Charlotte on

A., different people respond to different types of charities. Some love Toys for Tots. Some love food banks. Some love homeless women's shelters. Lots of churches have several different concerns that they manage and fund raise for. I don't think that they expect the same people to give to each thing. I think they hope that people will do what they can for whatever strikes them as something they want to support.

So please pick whatever touches you, but if you can't afford it this year, don't worry about it.

As far as the lunch is concerned, I have to admit, it you can't afford a canned good, don't go to the lunch. A canned good is so little.


6 moms found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

As I understand your post, you're not saying that these people are wrong to ask for money or contributions; you're saying they're asking you for too much.

It's hard to give and give when your budget is tight and you're worried about your pennies. I agree that it would have been better for the school to have mentioned the canned goods with the invitation, not afterward. (Maybe it was an afterthought with them.)

You need to say no sometimes. And it's perfectly all right to do. It's because so many people are asked that it's possible to say no and be assured that some other people will be saying yes.

If an organization calls you, you may have to say, "Sorry - not this year," and leave it at that. Some people have particular organizations they faithfully support - their church and/or some particular charities - and they put their money (whether a little or a lot) there. A friend of mine is a huge supporter of Goodwill Industries, and that's her donational focus as well. She knows that the other organizations are worthy, but this is the one *she* focuses on. There's nothing the matter with that.

Meanwhile, you find a can of something - or maybe two, because somebody else may *truly* be without something to bring - and you mention to the school that next year they need to communicate differently.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Yes, that does seem to be in poor taste--as if the families are not generous of their own accord & must be prompted towards generosity. It is not up to others to help us donate--we do it just fine on our own without having to be guilted or prodded to do it.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Well, it certainly wasn't worded the right way, but look at it this way ... it is for a wonderful cause. It's too bad that the school may have turned people off to helping the two very worthy charities supported by the school through their heavy-handedness. But I personally would put that aside and give whatever I could give, even if I had already donated elsewhere. Even the smallest donation (a can of food) is helpful, especially when there are so so many in poverty right now.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

I really don't see it as any different than having the people in the check out lines asking for a dollar for this, that, and the other thing. I'm with you. It IS annoying. I love being generous when I can be and I make tithing a priority in my life. But the ability to give to every place that holds out their hands is not yet something I can do. I get tons of requests in the mail and I alway stop for the shabby and homeless people on the streets. But the red hat people outside of the stores get on my nerves.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I totally understand your feelings on this. I go to the grocery store and the person sitting outside is asking for donations to their charity, then at the check out you have the option of donating but if you choose "no" then you are asked again by the salesperson because surely you didn't mean to press no! Then you drive past the person sitting at the corner holding up their cardboard sign saying "will work for food". You come home to have your kids hand you letters from school asking for donations or flyers on what they are selling to raise money. UGH! Do I donate? Yes! If I can! Do I feel guilty that I can't donate to every single cause when I don't know how I'm paying the mortgage this month? Yes! Sad thing is, they are typically for good causes, there are just soooo many. You just have to pick what you can. Speaking of cans, typically you could find a can of corn or such for $.99, in that case I would dig thru my purse for change so that my child could bring something in. Yep, that's my guilt talking. Sigh.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

I attended a room mom meeting about do's and don'ts for Christmas parties. When asking for donations, our principal basically said "I know we live in affluent neighborhoods and it LOOKS like all those kids and their families can afford to donate a few dollars for a party, but the truth is, some parents WON'T pay or they just CAN'T" so don't expect everyone to give openly and generously an be prepared to foot some of the class expenses."

My point is, ifyou can't pay, youcan't pay. Solicitors on any level should already have in mind they aren't going to get 100% participation when asking for donations, esp this time of the year. People word donation solicitations emotionally and aggressively to get heavy results.

Unless they want you to put your name on your donation, I say show up wherever you can and if you don't have a donation, its okay. Give yourself a break. You are not the only family who once had disposable income and I promise, you weren't the last family either.

Do what you can and make sure you are putting your family first.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Yes, it annoys me. There's a limit of how much you can give. I can't give a toys for tots for scouts, for 4H, for the school that I work at and for each of the schools that my kids go to. That's five donations, not one and no one seems to think about how you may have been asked by someone else already. There are donations requested for various things at work, and my husband - who earned about 3/4 of the family income - has been out of work for eight months. Severance ran out five months ago. We are struggling. Badly. I am not asking anyone else for help but I just wish that people would quit asking me for money. I don't have any to spare.
Good luck

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

Charities don't EXPECT a donation. They need them to do the business they do, so they ASK. I work for a charity. I ask people for donations. But I don't expect people to say yes. We understand that people are hit up for donations from everywhere, and while we are very grateful for people who do donate, we don't expect it of everyone.

Now if that email you got was in fact the very first notification that they were asking for a donation, I do agree that it was handled improperly. But with that being said, a lot of places do that where you are asked to give a donation in lieu of paying to attend the event. If you had to pay to attend the event, and you couldn't afford it, then you wouldn't go, right? But they are asking for a canned good. If you still cannot afford it, or you are so against what they are doing, then don't go.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

To answer your general question, yes I don't like when people expect a donation. For example, our school puts together baskets for raffles and asks for donations, usually it's a themed basket and you can donate an item for $1 if that's your budget or more, I've seen people donate $25 items.

To answer your specific question, I would not be annoyed by the fact that they are asking for a donation, but would be extremely annoyed about the way they went about it.

In general, I don't think it's wrong to ask for a donation when you are receiving something in return; your "payment" for the meal is a canned good or a toy. Last year, I went to see a play, the cost for the play was a donation of new children's clothing or non-perishable food.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

That is rude. Will someone be manning the donation boxes? Ridiculous.

And would you like to add a dollar to your purchase so my company can donate your cash in it's name? NO!!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

I donate to charities of my choosing and in amounts I am comfortable with. I usually tell people who ask "I have a preferred charity/preferred charities. Thank you." If they persist, I tell them "Not today." Do not feel bad. Ignore the persistence-they have to do it this way. It ensures at least some response. Charities and charitable causes are in the same economic 'boat' as the rest of us and are vying for our limited dollars. Give what you can; give what you want. (That works for private gifts as well). Have a wonderful holiday season. :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

A non perishable good could be Rahmen noodles ($0.25 at the MOST expensive). Most people keep a few things in their pantry at all times, so expecting this it totally reasonable. But for the future it never hurts to give out all the information at the beginning. I'd share that with them, that way people don't think its a bait and switch situation.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

A.---All you can do is what you can, when you can. I look at it like this...if they don't ask, they have nothing, so there is no harm in asking. If you have nothing to give, then that request is NOT made of you. They are 'asking' you to participate. Participate in the way that you can. So if it's canned goods, do that. If it's $5 instead of a toy, do that. But don't feel bad if you truly have nothing to spare.

There are so many worthy organizations out there, it is impossible to help them all. So we've decided to focus on those that we are truly interested in or passionate about and concentrate our giving there.

Enjoy the giving you can participate in and don't worry about it if you can't. Be well, D.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Provo on

Yeah the thing with the day care would bother me too. You have to figure out what is best for your family and stick to it. You don't have to make excuses. If someone pesters me about donating, I just say, "Not today, thanks. But keep up the good work!" They don't need to know my reasons and they don't need to know my financial situation.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

This way of doing things was totally wrong in my book. And you can't tell me they didn't do it purposely. I think it's fine if they want to ask for donations, God knows there are so many in need, but this method stinks to high heaven. It seems to me people like this are taking others for granted which kind of defeats the purpose of collecting to help others. I believe in giving and that everyone should give, but this needs to be from their own conscience not guilted into it or tricked into it. It'd make me not even go to their luncheon. Too bad you couldn't get everyone to see this and everyone just stay home. Maybe they'd think about how they approach matters. This is a form of materialism in reverse. Because they think everyone will give because otherwise they won't be accepted socially and they think everyone has everything plus some so they have to give. They're more interested in the volume they can produce for their charity and so they don't think about the rest. ~ Now, don't get me wrong I believe we should all be and can be more giving but it has to come from within each person. By what you say, you're doing your part and I don't blame you a bit for being po'd for being told what to give and the method in which they told you.
There are many ways to give. Someone once said, don't measure your genorosity by what you give, but by what you have left.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Oh yeah.
The year we had our son it seemed like donation requests were coming out of the woodwork.
Considering the timing of the donation notice, I'd have no qualms about showing up with nothing to donate.
When I give at the office, I don't give anywhere else.
When I give anywhere else, I don't give at the office.
When they keep asking, I tell people when I'm tapped out and can not give any more for this year.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

As a person that's been on the receiving end of charity at one time [around Christmastime], I will do anything I can to help another family like mine. I have 2 things I do... And I stick to it. I will bring in a can or two or 5 @ my son's daycare and I will donate what I can [usually only $5-$10] to our local Goodfellows organization. I buy canned goods at Family Dollar. Most of the time, it's under a buck per can. Some as low as 3 for $1!

The one's that peeve me are the ones that refuse to take any type of "no" for an answer.

I don't think that [dispite what the email said] this is absolutely mandatory. People like myself would bring more than enough to cover those that cannot.

I like Riley's answer!

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